By Laia Cardona, on 26 December 2018
A target market is an idea as old as marketing itself.
The target market is a sweet spot of a group of specific people with specific needs. After all, the products or services of a brand can not be a perfect fit for everyone. Being very clear about how we define our target helps to focus all our marketing initiatives and obtain a higher return on our investment.
Nowadays, thanks to the analytics tools from different digital marketing platforms, we can obtain a large amount of data about our target and make very precise segmentations.
There are no more excuses to shoot blindly! To get the best results, let's explore what a target market is and how we can define one according to 5 key characteristics.
Target market definition
In marketing, the target market consists of the group of customers whose characteristics, desires and needs are most suited to the products and services offered by a specific brand. The target market is also commonly referred to by the target audience, niche market, and potential customers.
Target markets are defined to allow firms to divide a market into segments and focus campaigns on one or more of them in particular. This makes it easier to promote and distribute specific and relevant offerings.
Sometimes, a brand’s target market is not static, but evolves to adapt to new market trends. For example, traditionally McDonalds targeted adolescents and families with children. This approach was reflected in products such as Happy Meal (a meal specially designed for children with toys included) or the design of their facilities, with free WiFi for parents and recreational areas for children. But in recent years, McDonalds has identified another very interesting target, the LOHAS, which is not reflected in this offer. For this reason, it has made an effort to diversify its menus and include healthier and more sophisticated options, such as salads and premium coffees.
In the digital marketing environment, we can use the segmentation options of the different communication channels to direct our campaigns to highly interested users. In the same way, we can see statistics about the results of our ads and the interactions with our channels that allow us to identify new market segments. In this way, we can align all our digital marketing strategy to address our target market.
5 key characteristics to define a target market
Demographic targeting is a classic marketing technique, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. Although today digital marketing goes far beyond demographic targeting, it’s always interesting to begin by defining these key aspects:
Age: the age of the target will mark the tone of the campaign, the values and the channels used. In the case of children, we must bear in mind that parents are the ones who make purchasing decisions, so that campaigns should be attractive for both children and adults.
Gender: Nowadays, more and more people are looking for inclusive campaigns and not taking on classic gender roles (for example, not directing cleaning products exclusively towards women). Nonetheless, there will always be products that given their characteristics will be more appealing to a specific gender. This is important to keep in mind, in order to properly guide the campaigns but without falling into stereotypes.
Family situation: married, single, with or without children, double income no kids (DINKY) ... current segmentation options allow for high customizations, for example "newly married heterosexual couples" or "parents of children between 1 and 3 years".
Or in other words, where the people does our target market live?
Sometimes, we will find situations like a brand with ecommerce that aims to reach a global market. Other times, we will only be interested in users who live within a radius of 5 kilometers from one of our physical stores.
If we intend to reach a global market, we will still have to make a minimum segmentation of the target, since the same campaign will not work the same with users in Los Angeles and Tokyo. At the very least, we must take into account the language and cultural factors to produce the impression we are looking for.
3) Sociocultural profile
Here we will delve a bit more into the demography of our target market, detailing aspects such as:
The social class to which they belong (and therefore, their purchasing power).
The educational level and languages spoken.
The profession. In the case of B2B companies, this factor is absolutely key, since we will generally want to orientate ourselves towards the decision makers of a specific professional sector.
The values and beliefs. For example, lovers of outdoor activities, pet owners, people with an urban lifestyle ...
4) Digital profile
Nowadays, this section is as important as the previous ones or even more. In order to reach our target market, we have to know where and how it navigates.
To a certain extent, the digital profile of our target will be linked to their age, from the centennials that live alongside their phones to the elderly who have just opened a Facebook account to be more in touch with their family.
We have to identify what are the digital channels that our target uses regularly (for example, what is their favorite social network) and their usage habits, especially in relation to purchasing decisions (do they research on Google before choosing a product?, do they ask for recommendations on Twitter?).
We have to articulate what our target market desires, and how we can respond to these desires with our products and services. This is a fundamental aspect when designing a profile of a specific persona within your target market, also known as the buyer persona.
In short, we need to have a clear understanding of what our value-add is to these specific users that make up our target market. How are we the best at making their lives better? Our marketing will focus on explaining to the target market what our products or services can do for them.