‘Persona Values’ French Style

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Pierre and François are visiting a bar in Paris and are engaged in a heated discussion like you only can see in France! Until recently Pierre and François could be called ‘friends for life’. But now they have a big fall out. Pierre is a student at the Sorbonne and François is  a tennis coach at a small club.  They were planning to go on vacation, just like they had done so many times before. However this time they cannot agree where to go! Pierre now likes to do more ‘cultural’ stuff like visiting old ruins, while François still wants to hang out and party on the beach..

A big quarrel

Recognize this? A big quarrel in your restaurant? Can be quite annoying. Fortunately this is not a story about ‘real’ people, but so called ‘Persona’s’ (as also described in my blog ‘Persona or Lifestyle’) but it could have been real..

Persona’s cooked up? Or boiled down from Sociology?

A ‘persona’ as described in my Blog, has been developed by observing how people search and buy, just like ‘cookies’ on your computer. By linking search behaviour with for instance ‘life phase’ (bachelor / empty nester, etc.) and known traits like ‘Education,’ a ‘typical Person’ is developed, i.e. a Persona. Working with Persona’s is a technique borrowed from sociology and often applied by web designers.

Dancing: a habit, a trait or a skill?

However, in practice working with Persona’s is a bit more complicated. Can you for instance predict who (or which Persona) has a preference for dancing? A preference for dancing might be a trait on its own, with no relationship to any other trait. But then, what is the use of a Persona? And why is that so? And where does that difference come from?

Au contraire, mon ami

Pierre Bourdieu, a contrary thinker and French sociologist, made a study of this phenomenon and came up with his own vision and model.. According to Pierre ‘class’ differences explain why groups show similar behaviour and have similar preferences.

It’s the food, stupid!

The example from Bourdieu goes as follows: Low-Income Class people tend to put a lot of food on the table when they have guests. But that food, of course, cannot be too expensive. Still it must give a feeling of satisfaction, it must be enough! That is why such food if often quite fatty. The Upper Class on the other hand, likes to present something healthy and definitely not too much. But food is just an example here.

Networking avant la lettre

Pierre was a socialist and translated behaviour into preferences for power (capital). He described preferences in terms of:

  • ‘social capital’ (networking!),
  • ‘cultural capital’ (knowledge, skills, education) and
  • ‘economical capital’ (money and estate).

According to Pierre, behaviour and preferences are related to four factors: Social class, Education, Upbringing and Past/Recent Choices.

Recent Choices? Cookies!

So Cookies to measure past choices are the solution after all? Well, only if you want to cut corners. But if you are interested in more background, don’t forget networking, upbringing and financial possibilities when setting up a ‘Persona’. Personally I would add a fifth factor being ‘character’ or ‘temper’ to explain the phenomenon of impulse buying (or the way the French argue J).

Clash of the Titans

In the quadrant, on top of the article, I have re-invented the ‘Bourdieu-matrix’ for restaurants and transport. Our ‘Pierre’ fits nicely in the first quadrant and ‘François’ in the third quadrant. And that explains why the two men were fighting! The theory of the Bourdieu matrix explains this as follows: quadrants which are diagonally positioned clash! In this case, quadrant 1 and quadrant 3.

So do you recognize this clash? How is this in your restaurant? Is there a Match between guests? Or do they Clash all the time over music, over eating habits, rude behaviour or otherwise?

When developing a new concept for your restaurant, hotel or theatre, etc. you may think again of this Bourdieu Matrix to realize a nice harmonious atmosphere.

Check out the Blog at www.marketvision.nl. Discuss how your guest mix looks like, or will look like? Call Jan Mulder at +31- 20-6400980.

Jan Mulder, Market Researcher and founder at Market Vision

Jan Mulder leads the research activities at Market Vision. Jan he founded Market Vision in 1996 after gaining marketing experience at one of the first Personal Computer companies (Kaypro) and legal experience at Fokker Aerospace and Fokker Space. His current experience is based on a more than 15 years of research in the hotel industry with hotel chains like Radisson and Novotel. Jan also taught research at Windesheim Flevoland for five years. Jan lives and works in Amstelveen, near Amsterdam, Netherlands. Jan holds a B.A. from the University of Puget Sound and a M.Sc. from the University of Oregon.