How to Create an Avatar for Your Business, Just Like Lululemon Did

Apr 19, 2022
How to Create an Avatar for Your Business, Just Like Lululemon Did

Creating an avatar is essentially developing a fictional character who represents your ideal customer at a fixed point in time.

In the early days of Lululemon, founder Chip Wilson created a female avatar named Ocean and a male avatar named Duke in order to inspire the company’s merchandise development and focus their marketing efforts.1 

Lululemon’s Male and Female Avatars

Here’s what they look like:

These profiles aren’t extensive — and they don’t need to be. Lululemon may have more details on the avatars than they’ve spoken about, but these descriptions alone are highly informative.

When the Lululemon team works on products, they think about what Ocean and Duke would want, what they wouldn’t want, and what they would buy. Lululemon’s offers, tone, and aesthetic are defined based on what would appeal to Ocean and Duke.

That’s the power of creating an avatar. You can have multiple avatars, but I wouldn’t recommend having more than five.

Once you create your avatar, you’ll know exactly who you should be speaking to — and it will transform how you craft compelling marketing messages.

You want to use your target market data to develop this portrait, but don’t be afraid to get creative. If you have an ideal customer, you can easily model the avatar after that person; if you don’t, you can improvise. You could also use some of the data you’ve already gathered on your competitors’ customers.

Example Avatars: North Star Bike Shop

I’ll illustrate with a fictional business called North Star Bike Shop. This is North Star’s target market data:

  • Age: 30s-40s
  • Income Level: $75,000 - $100,000 annually
  • Gender: Men and Women
  • Other interests: Hiking, running, kayaking, camping
  • Other places they shop: REI, Trader Joe’s, Lululemon

Based on that information, here are examples of male and female avatars that North Star might create:

You can visit the list of Valuable Demographic Data to see what else you’d like to include or which options might fit your business better.

It may not be easy to come up with these details. Try to get specific, but don’t stray too far off the beaten path. The goal is to develop a rough sketch so you can visualize that person, including his or her needs, interests, goals, and habits.

Benefits of Creating an Avatar

If this exercise feels difficult (or even a little bit silly), I’d like to point out some distinct benefits of creating an avatar:

  • An avatar allows you to get more personal in your marketing, which leads to more sales. You’ll definitely want your avatar profile on hand when you start creating marketing messages.
  • An avatar keeps you from wasting marketing dollars due to confusion over whom you’re talking to and where to find them.
  • An avatar provides critical brand context to anyone who might be helping you create other important assets.

Whether now or down the road, you may be delegating copy, content, design, and even product development to contractors or team members. Material like this can give you the ability to bring those people into the development process quickly. They’ll have a greater sense of clarity — and you’ll have more confidence in their support.

Exercise: Create an Avatar for Your Business

Follow the steps above to create an avatar for your business.

Think about your ideal customer — this may be a real, current customer or someone whom you think would be interested in your products and services. Model your avatar off this person. If you can’t think of anyone, make up a character who fits your target market data and represents the kind of person who would benefit most from what you offer. 

 

This is an edited excerpt from my book Mission, Market, Message: The Actionable Guide to Marketing for Small Business Owners, which you can purchase on Amazon.

 

Sources:

1. Wallace, A. (2015, February 2). Chip Wilson, Lululemon Guru, Is Moving On. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/magazine/lululemons-guru-is-moving-on.html