The Ultimate Guide to Target Markets

what is a target market

One of the first steps involved in starting a business is determining who the best target market for your product and brand truly is. This step alone can be the basis for what products you create, how you brand your business and ultimately who you market to.

With that in mind, you’ll need to develop assets that resonate with your target market. Start by creating a website that represents your business and that uses language and visuals that your audience can identify with. Consider what niche you can fit into and what separates your business from your competition. From there you can understand how to create messaging, branding and advertising that is tailored to your target market to help you convert more leads into customers.

Keep reading to learn more about defining your target market and to find expert tips on how to implement this targeting throughout your business strategy.

What is a target market?

Your target market is the specific group of people at which your product or service is aimed. In other words, they’re the primary audience of your business, branding and marketing strategy. Once you know who this is, you can tailor your marketing efforts to them which can help create a loyalty program, should you choose to create one.

A target market can be composed of a broad group, such as women in the US, or it can be quite narrow, such as urban, health-conscious, vegetarian women in Texas. The group you choose will depend on the particular consumer needs your product is addressing.

To pinpoint your target market, you’ll need to start by analyzing data about your product niche, your customers and your competitors. Here’s how to do it:

How to determine your target market

  1. Gather data on existing customers

  2. Know your product’s benefits

  3. Investigate your competitors

  4. Segment your audience

  5. Write a target market statement

  6. Refine your research

01. Gather data on existing customers

The first step in defining your target market is to learn more about your existing customers. Even if you’ve just started an online store and don’t have many customers yet, these practices will come in handy further down the line.

Start by gathering information about current and past buyers, and try to identify any defining characteristics these customers have in common. This data will help you market your product to people with similar interests.

You can find this information using website analytics tools, as well as social media and email marketing analytics platforms. Some data points you’ll want to consider include:

  • Age: Do your customers share a common decade or generation? Are they millennials, older adults, or something in between?

  • Location: Where in the world do most of your customers live? Consider the different cities, countries, and regions.

  • Language: Which languages do your customers speak? Remember that your customers’ language isn’t necessarily the dominant language of their country.

  • Spending power: Consider socioeconomic factors that may be affecting your customers. How much money are they willing or able to spend?

  • Hobbies and career: What do your customers enjoy doing? What are their professions, and what do they do in their spare time?

  • Stage of life: Where are your customers in life? Are they college students? New parents? Retirees?

If your company is B2B rather than B2C, you’ll want to look for characteristics of companies, rather than individual consumers. These traits include:

  • Business size: Are the businesses that buy from you small, medium, or large?

  • Location: Where are these businesses physically located?

  • Vertical: Which industries are most of these businesses in?

  • Budget: How have these businesses raised money? Consider how much they’d be willing or able to spend on products like yours.

Be sure to track this information in an orderly manner so that you can keep your findings organized and easily identify trends. Analyzing these trends will allow you to identify shared characteristics within your customer base. These characteristics will inform your inbound marketing efforts and steer your strategy toward your target audience.

02. Know your product’s benefits

The next step in determining your target market is to understand the customer motivations behind purchasing your product. For this, you’ll need to see from your clients’ point of view. Think about what might motivate them to buy from your company, rather than a competitor. You can learn this information by speaking to your customers directly and asking for testimonials, and by doing in depth competitor research to understand the difference between your product and theirs.

Get to know the benefits - and not just the features - of your product or service. The features are your product’s characteristics. For example, if your business sells suitcases, you might describe your product as being small, compact and having multiple compartments. Your product’s benefits, on the other hand, are the advantages it brings to your customers. Think about how your product makes someone’s life better or easier. The compact, multi-compartment suitcase offers the benefits of being easy to carry and pack as a carry-on.

Learning about the specific needs your product is fulfilling helps point you toward your target audience. For the suitcase company discussed above, for instance, the target market would be people who benefit from a lightweight, carry-on suitcase - such as business travelers who take short, frequent trips.

03. Investigate your competitors

Hone in on your target market even further by taking a look at which target markets your competitors are aiming at. You won’t, of course, have access to their customer analytics data. However, you can understand who these customers might be by doing a SWOT analysis of your competitors.

Take a deep dive into their websites, blogs and social channels. Consider who their target market is based on their website content, content marketing strategy, and social media branding. You’ll likely be able to infer details about their audience based on their brand language and tone. You can also check for comments on their social media pages to see which types of people are engaging with their posts.

Take an especially close look at their most successful social media and blog posts. Do these pieces of content have anything in common in terms of their offering or branding? Which interests or needs do they address? Use this information to consider what kinds of qualities or advantages appeal most to consumers within your industry.

04. Segment your audience

At this point, you’ve gathered some information about the characteristics and interests of your target audience. Now, it’s time to use that information to clearly define your customer types. These customer types are going to form the basis of your target market.

The best way to do this is through a process known as market segmentation. This involves dividing your customers into different groups, or segments, based on their shared qualities.

You can divide your customers based on:

  • Geography: Physical location, whether it’s your own city or a different part of the world. Note that if your customers are located around the world, you may need to create a multilingual website, as well as localized ads and marketing materials.

  • Demographics: Characteristics such as age, gender, race or ethnicity, income level, or marital status.

  • Psychographics: Inner qualities such as personality, lifestyle, or personal values. These are often a product of geographic and demographic factors such as location, generation, or stage of life.

  • Behavior: Perceived qualities based on online behavior, such as buyer readiness or frequency of use.

If you’re a B2B company, use similar characteristics but apply them to business. Consider firm demographics - known as firmographics - such as industry, location, customer size, business structure, and performance.

To gain a deeper understanding of your segments, you can also create buyer personas. Also called user personas, buyer personas are imaginary characters with traits and behaviors similar to those of typical customers. Ultimately, these fictional characters represent your target market, helping you gain insights into the needs, desires, and lifestyles of your actual customers.

What is a target market?: Segmentation

05. Write a target market statement

Now that you’ve determined the defining features of your audience, it’s time to put your findings on paper. Write a target market statement that focuses on the most important audience characteristics you’ve identified in your research. Your statement should include:

  • Demographic information about your target market, such as gender and age

  • Geographic location of your target market

  • Key interests of your target market

Then, sum it up in a single sentence. For example:

“Our target market is women in their 30s and 40s who live in the United States and enjoy casual, comfortable fashion.”

Having a clear statement about who your target audience is will help keep your brand identity and marketing efforts consistent across your company. It will also come in useful as you adapt your company’s mission statement to be as relevant as possible for your audience.

06. Refine your research

Defining your target market is based on thorough research, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfect the first time around. Even after you identify your market, you’ll still need to continually test and experiment to get an increasingly precise picture of your customers. Staying on top of your market research can also help you keep up with the times, as consumer interests change over the years with technological developments, generational attitudes and passing trends.

To narrow in on your audience, you’ll need to assess your business success and test your targeting efforts. Take a look at who is actually buying your products or services and which specific products they are purchasing. Try to understand how you can adapt future product development or modify your branding or marketing efforts to better fit your customer base.

You can also utilize A/B testing with your marketing efforts. A/B testing allows you to test different ads against one another and see which version performs better. In this way you can show one ad to two different audiences, thus enabling you to further define your target market. Alternatively, you can develop two different creatives, each with their own look and language and see which one your audience responds better to.

You can try A/B testing on many different platforms including social media, email marketing and even your own landing pages. This method enables you to sharpen your target market and to understand how to speak to them in the best way possible.

Based on the results, you might need to either adjust your business strategy or revise your target market statement. The bottom line is to build a brand that resonates strongly with your audience. Remember, the more targeted your content, the more effective your lead generation strategies - and the more customers you’ll bring to your brand.

Target Market Examples

To help you understand how businesses build and address their target markets, here are a couple of examples of websites that make it clear who they are targeting. Take note of the kinds of phrases and visuals these websites use to cater to their audience, and use this as inspiration when building your own business and marketing strategies.

Amanda Darby

First, let’s take a look at how nutritionist Amanda Darby appeals to her target market. She aims to address people who are looking to make healthier food and dieting choices. To do this, she’s created a website that fosters a sense of joy and personal empowerment around food. The light and airy background, coupled with the cheerful images of cooking and eating, instantly makes it clear that she targets people looking for a healthy lifestyle.

She also hones in on her audience even further, using phrases that directly appeal to middle-aged women. In the section of her homepage that discusses her nutrition coaching, she states that her services are “For the Mom who is burnt out trying to follow STUPID diets and wants a simple & intuitive approach to food & nutrition.” By directly addressing the concerns of her target market, Amanda helps her audience feel heard and understood. This, in turn, can help strengthen their trust in her brand and persuade them that she is the right coach for their needs.

Target market- Amanda Darby

Curtinsmith Guitars

From the very first image that appears across the top of this website, it’s clear that Curtinsmith Guitars is crafting something unique. By displaying photographs of their workshop and describing their guitars as “custom” and “handmade,” they directly single out a target market of those looking for unique, one-of-a-kind guitars. This target market is likely musical, appreciative of craftsmanship and not afraid to spend their money on their passions.

The About Us section of the site confirms this targeting. They write, “I find it quite profound to create something which, in itself, will continue to create. It is an absolute joy crafting these instruments and it is my prayer that they continue to be a joy for those who play them and listen to them, for many generations.”

In this statement, the site owner is making it clear that they are targeting musicians who value the creative process. They also allude to the quality of their product, portraying them as long-lasting heirlooms with sentimental value.

Target market- Curtinsmith guitars

By Rebecca Strehlow

Wix Blog Writer


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