What is a Target Audience?

A target audience is a group of consumers characterized by behavior and specific demographics, such as female extreme athletes between the ages of 18 and 25. Target audiences are a pillar of most businesses influencing decision making for marketing strategy, such as where to spend money on ads, how to appeal to customers, and even what product to build next.

Target audiences are used to define the buyer persona of a business, as well. Buyer personas are a representative overview of a business's ideal customer, drawn from data that makes up a target audience. We love the Buyer Persona generator from HubSpot. Some of these demographics and behavior areas are:

  • Location

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Employment

  • Income

This information is helpful in understanding the customer and how they make purchase decisions. Targeting a specific audience will also help your campaigns reach the correct people who will relate most to your company's message and products.

When talking about a target audience, it's a useful distinction not to confuse the term with a target market. While similar, their difference is key for marketers.

Target Market vs Target Audience

Though both target audience and target markets are centered around segmenting customers into groups to make informed business decisions, a target market is a specific group of consumers at whom a company’s products are aimed. A target audience defines that group using audience demographics, interests, and buying history.

Essentially, you can describe your target market by finding your target audience. If a target market was "marketers aged 25-35," the target audience would then be something like "marketers living in Boston, Massachusetts aged 25-35."

That was an overview of target audiences. Let's dive into some specifics, such as the different types of audiences and how to find your own.

Types of Target Audience

We've briefly gone over the attributes that make up a demographic. There are plenty in the marketing world — all helpful in locating the correct audience.

When we talk about types of target audiences, we're talking about more ways to define who you're creating a campaign for. You can segment your audience into groups or define them further using categories such as:

  • Purchase intention — Groups of people who are looking for a specific product and want to collect more information before doing so. Some examples include consumers buying a new laptop, vehicle, clothing, or television. This data is necessary in order to see how you can better direct your messaging to your audience.

  • Interests — This is data about what people are into, like hobbies. Knowing this data helps you connect with your audience in a relatable way and unearth buyer motivation and behaviors. For example, consumers who enjoy road biking as a hobby are likely most interested in new road bikes in the spring, when the weather is warmer and road racing season begins.

For example, if you find that a large number of potential audiences are interested in traveling, you can figure out a way to work that message into your marketing campaign to appeal to more potential buyers.

  • Subculture — These are groups of people who identify with a shared experience. An example of this would be a specific music scene or genre of entertainment. People define themselves by subcultures, and companies can use those cultures to understand who they're reaching out to.

An example of reaching a subculture is thinking of how they relate to your business, especially if you have a large potential audience. For instance, Netflix markets to their subcultures, people who watch specific types of content, using social media accounts that are directed to those subcultures.

As you've probably guessed, coming up with a target audience involves some research, which goes into fleshing out who you want to reach and how you can get there in a way that stands out from competitors.