From proud pioneer to thoughtful critic: Meet Fairphone’s latest user personas


Last year, we gave you some insight into how and why we’re creating user personas. In a nutshell, it is a way for us to create (oversimplified) descriptions of all the different types of people in the Fairphone community and better understand how to address everyone’s needs.

Our first attempt at developing personas was based on research completed by the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam and TU Delft, as well as the results of our own online survey. Combined, this research included feedback from thousands of members from the Fairphone community – not just Fairphone owners.

Since we want to keep this information fresh, we will also include a very small survey at the end of this post to understand the size of these groups and gather feedback.

Examining our users with the value proposition canvas

The six personas we created then were an excellent starting point, but after reviewing your response to them and completing additional one-on-one interviews, we realized that these user segments were still a bit too superficial to describe you. Despite the fact that personas are inherently representations, we wanted to expand upon our various characters to make them as human as possible. We wanted to dig deeper to understand what motivates these “imaginary” people, that is you, what delights them and what might disappoint them.

To transform our initial descriptions into something closer to a real person, we used the value proposition canvas (Alexander Osterwalder). This model helped us think about how to create value for our different user segments. We examined what each of our personas hope to achieve or get done in their everyday lives (jobs), the negative aspects they want to avoid (pains) and the positive outcomes or benefits they expect (gains). Once that was done, we mapped it to our value proposition, which will allow us to improve our product as we progress to make sure we fulfill those jobs, relieve the pains and deliver gain creators for our community.

Five revised personas, now more life-like!

As a consequence of this value proposition exercise and your feedback, we took the time to re-think our six initial profiles. We decided that the “early adopter” and “trendsetter” were very similar and could be rolled into a single persona: the “proud pioneer”. We also realized that the needs of the “business user” could apply to a wider segment of consumers, which we have now dubbed the “no-nonsense user”. In short, we reduced six personas to five, adjusted their names and developed deeper, more meaningful descriptions. This is what we came up with:

The Ethical Supporter

The Ethical Supporter cares about people and the environment. She tries to treat the world as best as she can, and feels responsible for preserving it for the next generation. The Ethical Supporter is a warm, caring person who likes to create connections between people. Her actions reflect her morals, both in her personal and professional life. She’s not very focused on material possessions, but realizes that she has to stay up-to-date and is interested in new opportunities. She always tries to look for products and organizations that fit with her lifestyle and beliefs. If a product’s story appeals to her, she’s prepared to make concessions. She has wholeheartedly joined the Fairphone movement and community, believing that her personal buying practices can make a political difference.


Bibi, Fairphone Impact & Innovation: “While I don’t have a strong connection with technology and gadgets, you can always wake me up to discuss fairness and sustainability. I’m not afraid to speak up, even if it’s about issues that can make people uncomfortable like overconsumption or conflict minerals”.

The Proud Pioneer

The Proud Pioneer gets excited by being involved in the start-up phase of a company. The feeling that “together we can make it” gives him a great thrill. He isn’t afraid to take risks and is open to new initiatives; he’s a natural entrepreneur. The Proud Pioneer likes to promote the products he loves to other people. Although the Fairphone satisfies his basic needs in terms of functionality, it is not the product, but rather the mission that would convince him to buy the phone. By supporting Fairphone he hopes to contribute to the greater cause of the organization. In general, the Proud Pioneer loves cool products with a great story and is sensitive to good branding. He is open to new business models such as sharing or leasing.


David, People Person (HR): “I’m definitely attracted to products that have a social mission, which I think actually makes them even cooler than if they’ve got top-of-the-line specs. I like to be a vocal supporter of the social enterprises or brands I follow, so if I feel strongly about a new product I’ll talk to my friends about it.”

The Thoughtful Critic

Although she is critical about the phone, the Thoughtful Critic wants to contribute to Fairphone. She appreciates the idea, but more importantly, when it comes to buying a phone, she wants good value for money. She compares Fairphone to other phones based on reliability, tech specs, quality and price. She will consider buying secondhand or refurbished products, as long as she knows who she is buying from. She treats her products with care, keeps up with maintenance, is willing to repair broken parts and handles waste responsibly. She is actively involved in Fairphone’s community, where she finds a platform to share her knowledge and critical opinions. She is annoyed by products that only last a short time and aims to buy things that will continue to fulfill her needs in the long run.


Laura, Fairphone Value Chain team member: “Hmm… I won’t fit this persona perfectly – as I do often make choices based on what I would like to support. At the same time, I like questioning approaches and ideas, and like to get to the bottom of things.”

The DIY Techie

The DIY Techie lives by the motto “If you can’t open a product, you don’t own it.” He thinks it is important to fully own products, as he wants to be able to do whatever he likes with them. He strives to maximize a product’s lifespan by repairing or even improving it. He will only buy a new product if his existing one is broken beyond repair. The DIY Techie doesn’t need to buy the newest thing, as he primarily values durable products that function well. He is a critical consumer, always thinking how things can be done better and more efficiently. He regularly uses resources like DIY repair tutorials. He also contributes to Fairphone’s open source software and enjoys sharing his skills for the greater good. Furthermore, he wants to always be reachable. He wants his phone to work well, but he is not necessarily looking for the latest technology.


Kees, Fairphone Software Developer: “Personally I do like new technology and to put all that’s available to good use. I also like using older technology for longer or a different use than it’s originally intended.”

The No-Nonsense User

The No-Nonsense User is looking for a convenient, reliable product that fulfils his changing needs. He likes to be able to focus on what is important to him and is looking for a product that supports him in achieving his personal and professional goals. He wants efficient service with as little hassle as possible. The correct disposal of obsolete products, for instance, is something that he feels should inherently be taken care of. The No-Nonsense User is looking for a company that he can fully trust. As soon as he finds a suitable partner, he is willing to commit himself to a lasting relationship. He is the type of person that values access over ownership and would be willing to share or lease his products.


Nur, Fairphone Webshop Manager: “As a no-nonsense user, I can’t stand it if I’m not taken seriously when I have trouble when using a product. If something goes wrong, I want it taken care of in the most efficient and customer-friendly way possible.”
To make our characters even more real (and have a bit of fun), we also added a picture of the Fairphone team member that we thought best represented each profile.

Putting our personas to work

No matter how often we revise our personas, we realize that all of you are individuals who can’t be put neatly into one of these five boxes. Regardless, we find them to be a useful tool. In our day-to-day operations, we frequently refer to these groups to help us to make decisions about everything from communications to customer support.

Once again, we’d like to ask our community how big these groups are, and what you think of the names and descriptions – jobs, pains, and gains.

Create your own user feedback survey

Personas also play an important role in shaping our value proposition as we finalize the development of the next Fairphone. They help clarify our users’ needs, but we’re only producing one phone, so appealing to all of our audiences is a careful balancing act. Often, one person’s gain is another person’s pain. For example, the ethical supporter might love the fact that you’re not tied down to a service provider. However, the no-nonsense user could be frustrated that the phone doesn’t automatically include a contract. The proud pioneer might be excited to pre-order the phone, whereas the ethical supporter might be hesitant to buy something she hasn’t yet seen or tested.

We won’t be able to impress all of our users all of the time, and when we can’t, these personas offer inspiration for minimizing their pain. For instance, DIY techies will be the most excited to dismantle and repair their phones, but our unique phone design and video tutorials will make DIY repair accessible to everyone else as well. And in case DIY is still too intimidating for some, our repair center will be happy to help.

Do any of these personas match your motivations?

Our personas are still a work in progress. As we put our insights into practice and conduct additional research, they are sure to keep evolving. Thanks for your contributions, and we’ll be interested to learn about your opinions in the comments or survey.

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