Expert fishermen identify the prey they’re after, research where those fish congregate and then bait their hooks with an appropriate lure. Similarly, effective small-business owners research the consumers they’re after and then find ways to make their products appealing by positioning their brands competitively within the target market. While brand positioning and target marketing are most effective when used together, there are differences between the concepts.

Target Marketing

Target marketing refers tailoring a marketing campaign to a particular consumer segment or groups of segments. A company can implement one marketing strategy for many or most market segments, which is called undifferentiated marketing. It can narrow its aim by focusing on one market segment, which is called concentrated marketing. Or it can customize several marketing strategies to different segments, which is called differentiated marketing. Typically, differentiated marketing is the most expensive approach because companies must research, design and implement several campaigns simultaneously. Many small business lack the resources to pursue this strategy. Instead, they focus on concentrated marketing. It is often the least expensive because it requires a single marketing strategy and a relatively narrow implementation.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning refers to the identity of your brand in the minds of the consumers in your target market, relative to the brand identities of your competitors. For example, a particular brand of beer might seem exotic in a country that imports it. But in the beer’s country of origin, that same brand might seem pedestrian. In other words, this specific brand occupies different positions in different consumer groups. If your small business brews and bottles beer, you can position it one way by selling it overseas and another way by selling it locally.

Market Segmentation

Both target marketing and brand positioning start with market segmentation. Few companies have the resources and funds to cater to every consumer group in a market. Instead, most companies divide the market into smaller segments, each consisting of people who have similar needs. The companies then compare the market segments to decide which offer the highest potential for profit, and put their resources into those segments.


Marketers try to position their brands to match the desires of the market segments they target. For example, suppose you want to position a brand of perfume to appeal to a market segment containing high-income earners. The first step would be to perform market research, such as consumer surveys, to determine the current perceptions of the brand within the target market segment. Once that is understood, the second step is brand repositioning, or changing consumer opinion. For example, your marketers might differentiate the perfume from its competitors by using an ad campaign that focuses on luxury and style.