Personas vs. Segments – Which is better?!

4/24/2024   By: Nune Hovhannisyan

Understanding your audience is vital to the success of GTM (go-to-market) strategies. Both persona and segmentation development are valuable tools for understanding and connecting with your audience. By leveraging the strengths of both approaches, marketers can develop more targeted, empathetic, and effective strategies. Personas humanize data, while segments are built by identifying patterns and trends to differentiate market segments.

Combining segmentation with personas can yield a more comprehensive, actionable understanding of the target audience. In today’s hyper-competitive market, mastering the art of audience understanding is not just a competitive advantage; it’s a strategic imperative.

Personas Create Vivid Characters

Imagine you’re designing a product or service. Who are you creating it for? This is where personas can come into play. Personas are representatives of your ideal customers. They go beyond demographic data, and paint a picture of the personality, lifestyle and consumer characteristics of the target.

Crafting personas involves a deep understanding of your target audience(s). It’s about understanding their aspirations, challenges, preferences, habits, and behaviors. By personifying your target market, you create vivid characters that guide product development, marketing messaging, and customer experience strategies.

For instance, meet “Tristan,” a persona representing digitally adept millennials who value seamless user experiences. Through Tristan, marketing teams gain insights into preferred communication channels, content consumption habits, and brand loyalties.

Segmentation Analysis Identifies Similarities Beyond Demos

While personas focus on creating individual representations (literally “personifying”), segmentation analysis looks at audience segments more broadly. It involves dividing a diverse market into similar groups based on shared characteristics such as behavioral, attitudinal, and psychographic attributes. It additionally layers in demographic information to better understand these segments.

Segmentation analysis enables marketers to identify distinct segments within their prospective market, each with unique needs and preferences. By understanding these segments, businesses can tailor their products, services, and marketing strategies to resonate more effectively with specific audience segments.

For example, a pet food retailer may see a segmentation analysis of their prospective market that identifies 5 segments based on elements such as household composition, emotional relationship with their pet, attitudes towards pet ownership, and activity outdoors. Within each of these, segments can be created to bring the audience segment to life. While Tristan was a persona for the tech example, the pet food retailer may have “Health Obsessed Worriers” as one of their market segments.

Both persona development and segmentation analysis offer valuable insights into understanding and connecting with your audience. Personas humanize data, providing vivid characters that represent your ideal customers. On the other hand, segmentation analysis identifies broader patterns and trends across diverse market segments, allowing for tailored strategies to resonate with specific audience groups.

So, which is right for your business? The answer lies in leveraging the strengths of both approaches. By combining persona development with segmentation analysis, you can achieve a more comprehensive understanding of your target audience. This holistic approach empowers marketers to craft more targeted, empathetic, and effective go-to-market strategies.


Nune Hovhannisyan is a 15+ year market research expert and Vice President at Lux. You can reach her at Nune@luxinsights.com .