Marketing Basics: Identifying your Target Market

Marketing Basics: Identifying your Target Market

As a small business owner, understanding your target market is crucial for success. But what exactly is a target market, and how do you identify yours? Let’s break it down and explore some strategies that can give you an edge over your competitors.

What is a Target Market?

A target market is a specific group of consumers that a business identifies as the most likely buyers of its products or services. It’s essentially the segment of the population that the company focuses its marketing efforts on, believing these individuals are most likely to become customers. The consumers can also be broken down further into different groups based on demographics, geographic factors, psychographic factors and behavioural factors.


Demographics refer to statistical data about a population or a specific group of people. Common demographics include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Occupation
  • Marital status
  • Family size / composition
  • Ethnicity or race
  • Nationality

Demographics offer valuable insight into a target market but are often used in conjunction with psychographic factors such as personality, values, attitudes, interests and lifestyle etc).

Geographic factors

These factors include locations where a person lives, works or shops. Some common examples include:

  • Country
  • Region
  • Urban/suburban/rural areas
  • Climate

Psychographic factors

These factors relate to lifestyle, personality and values. Some psychographic examples include:

  • Interests and hobbies
  • Attitudes and beliefs
  • Values and lifestyle choices

Behavioural factors

These factors include how a consumer uses or interacts with products. These can include:

  • Buying habits
  • Brand loyalty
  • Product usage rate
  • Benefits sought

For example, a company selling luxury watches might define its target market as:

  • Men and women
  • Ages 35-65
  • High income bracket ($100,000+ annually)
  • Living in urban areas
  • Interested in fashion and status symbols
  • Value quality and craftsmanship

Target Market vs. Target Audience: What’s the Difference?

While often used interchangeably, these terms have a subtle difference:

  • Target Market: This is the broader group of potential customers for your business.
  • Target Audience: This is a more specific subset of your target market, often defined for a particular marketing campaign or message.

For example, if you run a local bakery, your target market might be health-conscious adults aged 25-60 in your city. However, for a campaign promoting your new line of gluten-free products, your target audience might be more specifically adults aged 30-45 with gluten sensitivities.

How to Identify Your Target Market

  1. Analyse Your Product or Service: What problem does it solve? Who benefits most from it?
  2. Look at Your Current Customers: Who are they? What characteristics do they share?
  3. Check Out Your Competition: Who are they targeting? Is there an underserved segment?
  4. Conduct Market Research: Use surveys, interviews, or focus groups to gather data.
  5. Create Customer Personas: Develop detailed profiles of your ideal customers.

Tips to Give You a Competitive Edge

  1. Niche Down: Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, focus on a specific subset of the market. This allows you to become the go-to expert for that niche.
  2. Leverage Local SEO: Optimise your online presence for local searches to attract nearby customers.
  3. Personalise Your Marketing: Use the data you’ve gathered to create highly targeted, personalised marketing messages.
  4. Engage on Social Media: Build relationships with your target market by being active and responsive on platforms they use.
  5. Offer Exceptional Customer Service: Word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers can be your best marketing tool and best of all – it’s free.

Remember, identifying your target market isn’t a one-time task. As your business grows and evolves, regularly reassess and refine your understanding of who your ideal customers are. A business can have different target markets for different products and services.

By focusing your efforts on the right target market, you can make your marketing more effective, improve customer satisfaction, and ultimately grow your small business.