The Differences Between a Target Market & a Demographic
Your target market consists of your current customers and high-potential new customers. Business operators usually focus their advertising and promotional activities on their core-customers — their target markets. Target markets share common characteristics that help shape the message for marketing communications. One common characteristic of target markets is a similar demographic profile, or demographic. A demographic, therefore, is one descriptor that helps to define your target market.
Mass-marketing tactics are no longer viable options for most business operators. The cost of mass media can be prohibitive, even for very large businesses. Media choices are far too fragmented in this age of cable TV and the Internet. Even the old reliable local newspaper is failing to deliver "eyeballs" because of steep drops in circulation and readership in many markets. In response to this changing marketing landscape, marketers started targeting their messages to appeal to existing and likely new customers. They also started using targeted media to reach their target market, while avoiding the costly waste of mass media. Thus, target marketing is widely accepted as the most efficient way to grow a business. There are two attributes of target marketing: target advertising and promotions that appeal to the target market and target media to reach the target market.
It is an accepted truism that no two people are alike. It's also true that only the wealthy buy Rolls Royce cars. Your target market is made up of uniquely different people who possess a certain demographic that is typical of people who buy your products or services. This demographic is sometimes referred to as the external reality of your target market because the reality is observable and measurable. In building demographic profiles of population segments, demographers use observable and measurable socioeconomic characteristics. These characteristics can include a range of attributes, such as age, gender, education level, income level, marital status, parental status, race, religion, geographic location, home ownership status and nature of employment. The common denominator is that they are generally observable and measurable descriptors about people — their external reality.
Marketers have found that the demographic profile of a target market, while helpful, is limiting. The demographic describes a target market in terms of its socioeconomic characteristics. It sheds little insight into how the target market behaves, how it thinks, its interests, its passions, its lifestyle and its values. Marketers sometimes call these behavioral characteristics the internal reality, which describes the target market in terms of its psychographic profile. Thus, target marketing has evolved to include both demographic and psychographic profiles, which provide a composite picture of the target market in terms of its external and internal realities.
Marketing to your current and prospective customers is an imperative you cannot ignore in this competitive environment. Thanks to target marketing, marketing is an imperative even the smallest of companies can afford. By targeting your market, you can focus on clearly defined market segments with messages tailored to those segments. Furthermore, you can do this more effectively and at less cost in terms of time and resources.