Part 1

Walmart's Messy Cleanup

We've all stumbled through a cluttered Walmart. The seasonal decor, random furniture, and crates full of $5 movies and cereal boxes stall your progress to the single thing you came here for. Pretty annoying, huh?

In 2009 Walmart addressed the mess with Project Impact. The project's purpose was to improve customer experience by reducing clutter and improving the aesthetics to compete with Target. This idea came from a survey that asked customers, "Would you like Walmart to be less cluttered?" The answer was an overwhelming, Yes. But who wouldn't say yes?

Walmart halted the project when the first 600 locations that they tidied saw year-over-year sales plummet. Walmart lost an estimated $1.85 billion in sales. It appeared that all the extra clutter led to people buying more.

REI Closes Doors on Shoppers

Fueled by turkey and pumpkin pie and armed with a Christmas wishlist, nearly 155 million Americans make Black Friday weekend the biggest shopping event of the year. Seattle-based outdoor retailed REI would rather not participate.

Instead of wow-ing shoppers with massive markdowns, REI closes its stores, activity centers, distribution centers, call centers, and headquarters for its annual #OptOutside campaign.

In 2015, REI saw 10 times more traffic than any other retailer on social media as thousands posted with the hashtag.

In 2021, REI expanded the campaign to challenge its members and community to get outside and build an inclusive outdoor space.

And yearly earnings? Up and up.

You Really Need Personas

Alright, alright. So we can't really say for certain that Walmart wasn't using personas and that REI was. But what we can say for certain is that REI understood its mission and its consumers' habits and lifestyle far better than Walmart did.

In the past few years, our client teams at 97th Floor have launched wildly successful campaigns driven by insights discovered through building personas.

In-depth personas are invaluable to our teams and our clients.

Rachel Bascom, head of content at 97th Floor, shares these benefits from using personas:

  • Collecting hard data into a condensed, usable format Helping you focus your time on the most valuable potential customers
  • Creating relevant content that they actually care about
  • Meeting them in the online spaces where they are most likely to hang out
  • Fostering empathy that allows you to create more authentic and relevant messaging Identifying areas where separate messaging is required in order to speak to different groups of people

And if your personas are doing that, they're ultimately bringing you this:

  • More leads
  • Higher quality leads
  • A shorter sales cycle
  • Higher ROI

We're confident that data-driven personas enable every department to work better for clients and the company. We can't teach you everything in this article, but we'll get you started.

Part 2

All About Astrology

Our beauty and skincare client uses playful design, sustainable ingredients, and
delicious flavors to deliver products that feel like a treat for their consumers. But, the
company wasn’t leveraging their audience to maximize conversions. They needed real
customer personas, complete with a goal and journey for each.


Using analytics, we built - you guessed it - 5 consumer personas.

Each persona included personality traits, concerns, risks, influences, an analysis of
the buyer’s current status with the company, and solutions for improvement.

This in-depth analysis led to a full-funnel strategy, including launching on new

Our research helped us craft persona-focused messaging.

Our discovery that certain personas were interested in astrology inspired our design team to create these stunning ads for a zodiac sign campaign, targeting shoppers based
on their birthday.


Highest-ever engagement, volume of purchases, and ROAS of all client ads.

Using only
of total ad budget

Accounted for
client's total purchases

While achieving
Historic ROAS
of all purchases

What's a Persona, anyway?

Let’s back up a little bit. What even is a buyer persona?

This is Tony Zambito in 2001. He invented the concept of buyer personas, according to
himself and the internet.

Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers
are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think,
how they buy, and why they make buying decisions.”

Sound familiar? Maybe you're thinking of a time when you fit in a very small chair at a very
small desk and were instructed that 5 W's and an H - Who, What, When, Where, Why, and
How - belong in every story.

Hmm. And we didn't think they taught marketing that young.

But the truth is that you need these components for your company's story telling and you
must have them for your consumers' sake.

Consider this quote from "Scratch": Consumers aren't as interested in your story until
it helps them tell their own.

Personas are a powerful and concise way for you to use data to understand your
consumers - and help your whole company understand your consumers - so that they are
ultimately interested in your brand story.

But while we're here, let's consider what a persona is not.