Food shopping user research to user personas

Emilie Le
4 min readDec 21, 2019


This exploratory research study was initially started at a UX research workshop at General Assembly in London.


We wanted to learn about how people shop for groceries in London. What are their food shopping habits? How often do they go grocery shopping? What are their preferences i.e. online or offline? What are their pain points?


The workshop had 12 attendees who varied in professions from customer service researchers to graphic designers. We were split into 2 groups of 6. We conducted interviews on fellow attendees.

Roles & Responsibilities

I interviewed two people. They were both males in their 30s working in the creative field.

Scope & Constraints

We spent 5 minutes interviewing each person. The time restriction meant that we couldn’t go into detail and we didn’t have a discussion guide prepared so questions were not consistent across interviews.


In total. there were 6 interviews completed.

Each interviewer asked questions about food shopping habits. Some questions I asked my two interviewees were:

  • When was the last time you went food shopping?
  • What did you buy?
  • How often do you go food shopping a month?
  • When was the last time you bought groceries online?
  • Do you prepare a grocery shopping list?

After the interview sessions, we started to create an affinity map. We wrote down observations on post-its and stuck them in no particular order on the wall. We then studied our observations on the wall and moved observations around into groups in complete silence. This was a great team exercise because the silence meant that we had to think collectively as a team.

Once we were happy with our groupings, we spoke aloud again and discussed what each group represented. We then named each category.

We used our affinity map to create user personas.


Here’s the affinity map we created together.

Here are the observations

Lessons we learned

As you can see from above, there were many insights gathered from the interviews. But what was particularly consistent across them were these 3 findings:

  • Everybody did big shops weekly and mid-week shops to top up
  • Interviewees did all or most of their shopping in-store rather than online
  • Interviewees felt that online shopping was full of pain points such as waiting for the delivery and unsatisfactory products

User personas

Through our interview sessions and gathering observations into an affinity map, this helped build the user personas.

1) The Food Lover with Dietary Requirements

2) The Quick Food Shopper

3) The Family Shopper

4) The Organic Food Shopper


This study was conducted to understand how people shop for groceries in London.

There were similarities among interviewees where everybody did big shops and mid-week shops. There was a definite preference for in-store shopping over online shopping. These reasons ranged from delivery waiting times and better in-store experiences.

There were 4 personas that came out of this research:

  • The Food Lover with Dietary Requirements
  • The Quick Food Shopper
  • The Family Shopper
  • The Organic Food Shopper

However, the time limitation meant that interviews were only 5 minutes so we couldn’t get more in-depth answers. We could have explored motivations and pain points in greater depth.

There was also no standardized discussion guide across interviews which meant we didn’t explore the same topics with each interviewee.

Having said that, the observations and user personas that came out of the guerrilla interviews are still varied, insightful and reflect the demographic.

If the research study was going to be replicated in the future, it would be highly beneficial to brainstorm questions and form a discussion guide for consistency across the board. This would also help get the most out of the interviews.



Emilie Le

Here to share my UX Diary with you. I’m a UX Researcher based in London with a love for beautiful user-centred designs. I’m also a Psychology Postgrad from UCL.