When we started Tibles, we defined two user personas: Collectors and Market Makers.
Target User: Collectors
Collectors buy and hold. Their collections bring them joy. They feel attached to each object, often remembering specifically how they got it. Their goal is to build and curate a collection that identifies them as part of, and bonds them with, a fandom.
Collectors tend to have a strong ownership bias, which means they will overvalue items they already own versus ones they don’t own. This can lead to illiquid secondary markets, providing an opportunity for Market Makers.
Target User: Market Makers
Market Makers buy and sell. Their goal is to build their shop brand and make money. They love transactions and tend to buy multiple new items in order to resell for a profit. We sometimes call them flippers or speculators.
Collectors need Market Makers for liquidity and to provide a monetary measure of value for their collections. Market Makers need Collectors in order to operate sustainably.
Striking a Balance
Though each person may show traits of both, we consider these to be two distinct user personas. Furthermore, our primary target persona is actually Collectors. Market Maker is an emergent persona that develops based on demand from Collectors.
If the user base is primarily Market Makers, then people are only buying to sell to others who are buying to sell. This can lead to speculative bubbles that pop once there is no buyer willing to pay the top asking price. Since Market Makers use price (floor price) as the only signal for value, the value of the whole product crashes in the eyes of its user base.
That is why we build for Collectors. If we can grow that base, Market Makers will be better off in the long run, too.
Target User: Gamers
There is a third persona on the horizon for Tibles (and all of blockchain): Gamers. Gamers want to own things that help them win games, a transactional value proposition not dissimilar to market making. What makes an object valuable to a Gamer may be totally different from what makes it valuable to a Collector.
When we created the Topps platform a decade ago, we built a real-time fantasy baseball game into a card collecting framework. When the 2014 MLB season started, we made all new cards, just like in real life baseball card collecting, and stopped minting the 2013 season cards. Only 2014 cards could score in the fantasy game. What emerged was an interesting dynamic where all users would open 2014 packs, but then Collectors would trade their 2014 cards to Gamers for their out-of-print 2013 cards. Collectors wanted to stack (hoard) the old, zero-utility cards that were only available in secondary markets.
Our primary target user persona was the Gamer, as it should be in an ecosystem built around a game mechanic. Collectors and Market Makers were emergent personas in the case of Topps.
Collectors, Gamers, and Market Makers play off each other. A product’s primary target user persona will depend on what the product is—a collectible, a game, or a marketplace.