Personas & commercial cataloging

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Here’s what a personalised supermarket for student Jen would look like:

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By the entrance are the essentials to student life : frozen food and, through this section, a shortcut to beverages (aka alcohol). As a student myself, I do still like to buy fresh fruit and veg just to keep the guilt at bay, which is why it is the next section on the map. Opposite are the canned/jarred goods which are practical and can still provide a good alternative to frozen food. Moving on we have dairy, a bakery and a meat section, the third one being slightly less important than the first two but can be easily avoided as you don’t have to pass through it to get to the next section which is… Beverages! In case you missed it the first time. At the end right before the till we have cleaning products and paper goods, strategically placed just so students won’t forget them as they are on their way to checkout. Many times before have I gone into a supermarket thinking I need to get cleaning products and because they’re at the back on the shop, I get too carried away picking my food and I completely forget them.

Of course this is a very stereotypical representation of a student and I don’t really fit all the criteria of this persona myself, but the way I understand it personas are built on stereotypes. Some of us went for the typical middle aged mum persona, others chose a five year old girl obsessed with pink, glitter and unicorns, and some of us even went for the alcoholic dad persona.

It was extremely interesting to see that even though we had never heard of personas before and were never taught how to make one, it came quite easily and naturally to us because we have absorbed so many stereotypes and preconcieved ideas of how to put people into boxes in our everyday life.

This really opened my eyes on commercial cataloging and the ways in which we are targeted by marketing.

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