The Difference Between a Target Market and a Target Audience

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When working on your marketing strategies, you may encounter the terms target market and target audience. While they are undoubtedly interrelated, there are some important differences of which you should be aware. Having a clear and defined target market and target audience will ensure you create products and messaging that resonate with your ideal consumers.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

A target market is a well-defined segment of customers that you intend to sell your products or services to, for example, women over the age of 40. A target audience is narrower and comprises the people you expect to purchase the product, or you expect to respond to a certain marketing message or advertising campaign.

Target Audience vs. Target Market

Target market and target audience groups have a lot of overlap, and in many cases, they may be the exact same for your business. However, the best way to catch your customers’ attention is to cater to their specific needs. You can do this by researching and identifying your target market and target audience groups.

The target market for your business is the group of people you serve with your products and services. They may share demographic characteristics such as age, gender, income and occupation. For example, if your business sells handcrafted artisanal teacups, your target market may be women between 55 and 65 who have a household income above $120,000 and are close to retirement.

The target audience for your business is a subset of your target market. These are the people whom you want to reach through a particular marketing communication, promotion or advertising activity. For the handcrafted artisanal teacups business, for example, the target audience for an advertisement for a local craft fair may be the subset that lives within five miles of the craft fair. Because the event is location specific, there is no need to target your entire market. Instead, your target audience for this promotion is narrowed down to those people in your target market who live in the area.

How to Identify Your Target Market

In order to establish your target market, it’s critical to conduct detailed market research. You need to know what kinds of problems consumers are facing so you can provide the best solution. Your product strategy depends heavily on your target market and the issues with which you can help them. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming everyone is in your target market.

If you operate a hair salon for men, for example, all men are not your target market. Instead, your target market example will be those men of a certain age and in a certain income bracket. Aside from demographics, you also need to consider behavioral characteristics. For example, your target market likely prefers a more exclusive treatment and isn’t satisfied by the service they would find in an average barbershop. Instead, they may want more luxurious treatments and offerings.

The problem your target market may be trying to solve is finding a high-end salon that offers unique services exclusively for men, such as spa facials and mud masks, in addition to the regular haircuts, shaves, manicures and pedicures. If you want to expand your services to increase your revenue, you can even consider adding additional services that solve the problems this target market has, such as shoe shines and waxes.

How to Identify Your Target Audience

Figuring out your target audience ensures that your marketing communication, promotion or advertising activity resonates with the group of people you want to attract. The most successful messaging is highly tailored, which is why it’s critical to segment your target market into your target audience.

A target audience example for a business that sells environmentally friendly children’s toys, for example, may be the grandparents of the children during a special seasonal promotion. If the business is advertising in a senior’s magazine around the Christmas holiday, it can tailor the messaging in the campaign to speak specifically about buying something special for grandchildren.

References

About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.

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