Have you been online recently? If you have been, you might have heard people talking about Karen.
Ask a member of Gen Z who Karen is, and an image pops into their head. It probably looks something like this:
Who Is Karen?
For Gen Z, “Karen” is likely someone in their parents’ generation, but there’s more to the persona. She’s entitled, demanding, and over the top. Her signature move is asking to speak to the manager and throwing a fit until she gets her way.
The spokesperson for the persona is Kate Gosselin, who is known as the mother on John and Kate Plus 8. Not only does she embody the attitude of Karen, but she has the look. Dyed blonde hair in a bob, always toting her kids around town, always the center of drama.
Living in a world centered around memes, it’s likely to hear the name Karen thrown around. If someone displays an act of entitlement then she becomes a Karen. Bonus points if she’s a woman aged 35+, but the demanding personality is the key to Karen’s personality.
While Karen may be the it girl right now, there are other personas that have become popular on the internet. There are the Beckys, Chads, and Felicias of the world, and they’re talked about all the time.
Who Is Becky?
If you were going to summarize Becky in one word, it would be “basic.” She’s more defined by her taste in music and the trends she follows than actual personality traits.
Right now Becky is probably sipping water from her Hydro Flask, watching TikTok on her iPhone, and obsessing over the new Justin Bieber album. While there isn’t a whole lot of depth to Becky, she does represent many of the things younger people are gushing over. She doesn’t create the trends, she just follows them.
Unlike Karen, Becky probably isn’t too aggressive. She’s well-intended and a bit naive. She also may be a bit uncultured, and it’s likely the slang term originated from the Sir-Mix-a-Lot song “Baby Got Back.” At the beginning of the track a girl can be heard saying “oh my God, Becky. Look at that butt.” It’s implied Becky is just following the trends here, not breaking the mold.
Who Is Felicia?
While Becky may have derived from a rap song, Felicia definitely comes from rap culture. She’s a character in the movie Friday who tries to borrow a car and bum a smoke from Ice Cube’s character. Rather than entertaining her requests, Ice Cube dismisses her with his iconic line: BYE FELICIA.
Felicia is someone making requests that won’t be honored. She asks for a lot and offers little in return. Is she trying to use you? Yes. Will you let her use you? Definitely not.
A decade after the movie Friday debuted, the “bye Felicia” meme resurfaced on the internet. Memes have a way of becoming part of our everyday lexicon and transcending their pop culture references. Felicia is one of those girls who accomplished that.
Who Is Chad?
Chad has money. He didn’t earn it, but he has access to his dad’s money. He can be seen walking around campus talking about his potential and his abilities. While he may have some strengths, and he may be smart, much of his ego is built around the compliments he’s received, not the goals he’s achieved.
Chad is egotistical and full of himself. He can often be seen hitting the gym with his wingman, Brad. They’re probably there talking about last night’s party or all of the girls they’ve been with.
In Chad’s world, Chad is the center of your world. He truly holds himself to a high regard and is oblivious to the fact that other people see him differently. He perceives himself to be self-made, despite all of the privileges he grew up with. Most people see him as a tool, while he sees himself as the man.
Are These Really Personas?
Not really, but they’re a starting point. For a younger generation, this is going to shape the way they see the world. If they see a middle-aged woman arguing with a Starbucks barista because her hot coffee was too hot? That’s a Karen. If they see a young guy walking down the street with his chest puffed after hopping out of his BMW? That’s a Chad.
It’s no surprise the internet has started to cluster people together based on certain personality types. As long as the internet had been around there have been personality quizzes. People want to know which Sex and the City charter describes them or which Hogwarts house they’d be sorted into. The natural extension is to assign personalities to others based upon their perceived traits.
This is just fun and games, but it really falls into profiling more than persona development. The Karens of the world are a group of people, and this label lacks any real depth. A persona would acknowledge that Karen is entitled and over the top, but it would explain why she is that way. Maybe she works 40 hours as week on top of chauffeuring her kids to soccer practice. Maybe she’s returning to work after years of being a stay-at-home-mom. Or maybe Karen is angry because she didn’t want that haircut, but had to compromise due to financial constraints.
Even if the label “Karen” or “Becky” is more of a profile than a persona, it has its place in design and marketing. Part of the battle is understanding groups of people. Someone like Karen may need more guidance in a design, as she is prone to giving up out of frustration, while someone like Becky is familiar with apps like Instagram and TikTok. She can adapt to familiar gestures and navigation easily. Then there’s Felicia, who is prone to giving you her e-mail address to get 15% off and Chad who will buy the latest and greatest because he needs to impress people.
Who Uses Personas? Who Uses Profiles?
Everyone. Anyone with a focus on design or marketing has a use for personas and profiles. If you want to implement something focusing on a higher quantity of people, start to look into profiles. Especially if your website or product is really niche, it may appeal to a certain profile. One group of people could describe the bulk of your audience.
If you’re looking to add quality to your experience, build a persona. This can add a human element to an otherwise systematic process. If you can understand who a customers is, what motivates the customer, and why they might become frustrated, you’re on you way to creating an exceptional customer journey.
For some reason, many companies overlook the process of building profiles and personas. Not only are these methods useful in understanding customers, it is also useful for conveying that information to your team. If you’re designing for Karen, it lets your design team know what behaviors to anticipate. It lets the marketing team know what type of materials they should prepare, and it lets the customer service team know they’ll be busy.
Once customers begin to use your product, personas become refined and new profiles of users are integrated into your product’s life. These are all ways of understanding users and keeping products focused on them. In many ways, the internet mocks this process with people like Karen. In other ways, people are introduced to the concept of persona design and recognizing user profiles. Of course, anything on the internet should be taken with a hint of sarcasm. This is not the epitome of persona development, but it may be a good place to start.