Six Tips for Creating Restaurant Customer Personas

Do you know why your guests choose you over your competitors? Or why a regular you used to see at least once a week stopped coming in? 

If you said no to either or both, you’re missing out on the valuable insights that customer personas can provide. 

These aren’t just marketing gimmicks or buzzwords we’re talking about. Customer personas can unify your business and help you and your staff develop a strong understanding of who your guests really are. 

So here’s how to get it done. 

1.    What is a customer persona? 

A customer persona (also called a buyer persona) is a tool for understanding who the guest is and why they do what they do. 

Personas are depicted as individuals but are actually a mash-up of real world observations and information from individuals. (Click here for a persona template.) 

A good persona includes demographic information like sex, age, and income, as well as some more qualitative information like what they like about certain restaurants, and what their priorities are when it comes time to choose a place to eat or drink. 

2.    Don’t rely on the internet. 

Answers to this question on perfectly highlights why you can’t just grab the information you need off the internet. 

Building a useful buyer persona requires talking to people to gather qualitative data in addition to the quantitative data like demographic information. A quick look at Google Analytics data on traffic to your website will tell you some things like how old the average site visitor is and whether they’re mostly male or female, but it can’t tell you if they prefer something healthy like a salad or chicken wings. 

3.    Talk to real people.

For real and actionable information interview people. 

This Hubspot article offers information and strategy on interviewing. You can offer a gift certificate to willing participants with an email blast to the restaurant mailing list. You can ask your regulars who will be more likely to opt-in to an interview than others. It doesn’t matter how you get there; make interviews happen. 

Interviews should provide the information you didn’t know you didn’t know. Ask about what’s important to your guest, what they care about, and what influences them. 

4.    Do some surveys too. 

Interviewing every customer that comes through the door would be impossible for most establishments, so you should supplement your interviews with a survey to get more demographic data. 

You can create a survey easily on or that you can post on your website or send out to your mailing list. 

5.    Make it real. 

Use quotes from your interviewees and pictures of real people in the personas you create. Give them real names and jobs based on your research. Make the persona come alive from the paper. It’s much easier to relate to someone who seems and feels real even if they’re not. 

6.    Individualize with aggregation. 

A persona is both an individual and a generalization. Don’t get caught up with the individual aspects of each customer or guest that walks in the door. Group people together to create a persona that represents the entire group. Each persona should be distinct from the next but remember that distinct personas can exist within demographic groups. 


There are tons of resources all over the web on how to develop buyer personas. If your establishment has been seeing lower than usual sales for a while, bust out this awesome marketing tool to assess your product-market fit and improve your bottom line.