BLOG | Negative Personas


Sometimes it helps to put a face to those a company explicitly doesn't want to target. With data-based anti-personas (or buyer personas) you give a face to the target group they don't want to reach, a profession, a place of residence, interests, wishes & more.

Why anti-personas?

Your sales and customer service staff know only too well the "complicated customers" who complain, make a lot of work and bring in little revenue or profit in comparison, communicate in a misleading manner, are demanding and unfriendly, or are difficult or impossible to satisfy.
Such customers may later broadcast their negative experiences with the company or brand to the world and cost the company potential new customers.
Data-based negative personas, or "antipersonas," are useful in saving the company and its disappointed customers such experiences (and thus also cash). A negative persona is the personification of a customer that you would definitely not want to address. They are often the exact opposite of the buyer persona and help to better differentiate the positive buyer persona.
An antipersona is created data-based just like a buyer persona, only "the other way around": collect data and facts regarding the "undesirable" customers: What are they like, which advertising campaigns have attracted particularly large numbers of them, what images and language appeal to them. The marketing team should then avoid these in the future. Employees from sales or customer service who deal directly with customers can provide valuable input here in addition to the statistically collected data.


An example of negative personas:

A travel company sells cultural small group tours in the upscale segment.
The buyer persona Claudia is 55 years old, culturally interested, open-minded about new things, uncomplicated, moderately experienced in traveling, curious and adaptable. She appreciates comfort and chooses an organized group trip to be able to enjoy it in peace and not have to worry about anything. If something doesn't quite go according to plan, Claudia chalks it up to "adventure" and tells it later as an anecdote.
The antipersona Karin is also 55 years old, culturally very interested and well-versed. She has a precise idea of what she would like to see on the trip and asks the sales staff in detail whether this or that point would be possible in addition. She makes herself a checklist for each potential destination. She is very experienced in traveling and always travels in the upscale segment. She has seen the whole world. She is not shy about letting the tour guide and fellow travelers know that she already knows her way around the neighboring country and is also well-read.
Comfort, upgrades and attention to extra requests is very important to her, because after all, she pays a lot of money and can expect attention accordingly. If something doesn't go exactly as planned, she contacts customer service while still on the road, in addition to providing detailed, highly critical feedback after the trip. Karin also files recourse claims in the event of minor mishaps. At home, she prefers to tell her friends about the trip's mishaps and advises them against booking.

A dreaded variant is also an antipersona whose budget for the desired trip is very tight and who keeps the sales staff in suspense with long questions about cost minimization and included services, which she then meticulously demands down to the last drink.
The goal of creating the data-based antipersona is to figure out which channels, images, and wording the company must choose to target Claudia but not Karin.
A variation of the negative persona or anti-persona are personas that are very similar to the buyer persona, but lack one (or more) critical attribute(s) to match the buyer persona. It is important to identify these personas so that the marketing team does not waste time or resources trying to reach this group, because they will most likely never become customers, no matter how good the targeting is.


Again, an example of an anti-persona:

A company markets video games.
The buyer persona Julian is 23 years old, a student, plays basketball, lives in a shared apartment and enthusiastically dives into the gaming world every weekend with his friends. He has a budget of 100 euros a month left over, which he can use to afford online subscriptions, new games or paid features.
Antipersona 1, Alex, is 23 years old, a student, plays basketball, lives in a shared apartment and goes rock climbing with his friends every weekend. He has a budget of 100 euros a month to spare, which he invests in equipment, travel costs, and membership at the climbing gym.
Antipersona 2, Tim, is 23 years old, a student, plays basketball, lives in a shared apartment and goes to work every weekend because otherwise he can't make ends meet. He has neither time nor money for other hobbies.

Julian, Alex and Tim all fall into the same target group. Alex and Tim only differ from Julian in one characteristic each: Alex has no interest in video games and Tim has no money. The company can therefore save itself the trouble of trying to win Alex and Tim as customers. They are thus both antipersonas.

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