As mentioned in our last post, the terms branding and marketing are often used inter-changeably but actually refer to different concepts. The same applies to the terms target market and target audience. These terms have long been thought of as the same thing, but they really refer to different segments of your potential customer base.


In today’s post, we look at the differences between the terms target market and target audience. While they are inter-related, understanding the differences between the two will help strengthen your marketing efforts.


Knowing the Terms

In order to explain the differences, let’s first take a look at some definitions.


Target Market

A target market is described as anyone that could be interested in your products or services. This is the big pool of your potential customers. For example, if you sell living room furniture your target market could be anyone that owns or rents a home within 50 miles of your location.



Target Audience

A target audience is a specific group within your target market that you target your advertising to. For example, your furniture store wants to do a sale on large leather sectionals. Your ads should be targeted to neighborhoods within your 50-mile radius that have homes larger than 1,500 square feet. This is because these homes would be the most likely to have living rooms large enough to accommodate the size of the sectionals you are selling.



Market Segmentation

David Ingram defined market segmentation as the process of determining which target market or target audience to serve.


Determining a target group can be based on several criteria. It can be defined based on demographics, such as age, gender, income or ethnicity. It can be defined based on geographical locations. It can also be defined based on behavior, such as impulse buyers vs cautious buyers.


Understanding market segmentation can help you better define your target groups. While it would be great if everyone became your customer, the truth is it is almost impossible to be something everyone needs. Therefore, its best to spend your time marketing to people that have the highest likelihood of becoming your customer. And the more specific you can be with your target audience, the higher the likelihood that you can convert them into customers.



The Importance in Knowing Your Target Market

target market

It’s important to define your target market and target audience before you undertake any large marketing campaigns. It doesn’t make sense to spend your marketing budget advertising to people who are unlikely to ever become a customer or client.


Knowing and understanding your target market can have wider implications than just knowing who to advertise to. Target markets can impact product development and product offerings. If you have a wide selection of products and 10% of them are not seeing any sales, you can conclude that your target market is not interested in these products. You can either do a product redesign or drop them altogether from your product catalog. By aligning what you offer to what your target market wants, you help to strengthen your bottom line.



Target Audience Importance

target audience

Understanding the characteristics of your target audience is just as important as knowing your target market. Knowing your target market allows you to determine what need you can fulfill or what problem you can help solve. Knowing your target audience can help you connect with that group, so you can demonstrate just how well you can help.


Understanding the characteristics of your target audience is just as important as knowing your target market. Share on X


For example, if you are selling large leather sectionals your target audience can be people with a higher disposable income, own their own home and are either single, a couple with no children, or a family with older kids. If you were to focus your print ads in college newspapers and your commercials on community radio stations, you will probably be missing most of your target audience.



Putting It All Together

Taking the time to really understand your target audience can also help you market to the right people. For example, say you sell men’s socks with funny and wild graphics on them. You have determined that men aged 25 to 50 are your target market. But in doing your research, you learn that these men do not normally purchase these socks. It is actually the girlfriend or wife of these men that purchase the socks as a gift. Therefore, it would make more sense to create ads that are meant for women and include messaging like “a great gift for the man in your life”. You can then place these ads in women’s magazines or you can target your Facebook ads to women who indicate they are in a relationship or married.



Final Thoughts

To improve your marketing campaigns, its important to know who you are talking to and what their needs are. This helps to ensure you are setting yourself up for the best chances for success.


When you take the time to define both your target audience and your target market, you are ensuring that you are putting yourself out in front of the right people at the right time.




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