1. Target market is the broad/large population targeted by a company.
  2. Target audience is a narrow/small segment of the population within a target market.
  3. A company can have one target market with many target audiences.

To be effective, every business and marketing strategy must focus on a particular segment of the population. This is the only way to guarantee that the company’s messaging and products will appeal to their target market. To achieve this, two key concepts come into place, “target market” and “target audience.” 

A target market is a broader term for all the people you believe will be interested in your brand, even though both terms refer to a group of people who are interested in the goods or services offered by your brand. A target audience is a particular segment of that larger target market that is the subject of particular marketing campaigns.

A typical company has ONLY one target market, but may have different target audiences for use in different campaigns and advertising strategies.

Think of marketing and advertising as an alternative perspective on target market vs. target audience. While a target market is the foundation of your entire marketing strategy, a target audience is more important for your various advertising strategies. 

target market vs target audience
Target audiences are more likely to buy than target markets

Due to the fact that a target audience typically consists of consumers who may have a particular interest in or connection to a product, businesses frequently assume that this group is more likely to make a purchase. As a result, in order to increase the likelihood of closing a deal even more, marketing professionals may develop promotional materials that speak directly to the target market. For example, if a consulting firm offers leadership training for c-suite executives, their promotional messaging needs to be directed to people in such positions, and not just anyone in the company. A good example of a target market is our guide to strategies of marketing to millennials.

Key differences between target market and target audience
BasisTarget marketTarget audience
Size of the groupLarge/broadSmall/narrow
SpecificityNot specificVery specific
Likelihood of salesNeed a little more than easy persuasionMost likely to buy
Commonalities between membersShare interestsShare traits and values
Summary of the key differences between target market and target audience

Read also: 10 strategies to reduce advertising costs and achieve high ROI

While the target market is defined by the market need and the solution to whom the need is addressed to, there is more need to conduct a more comprehensive method for identifying the target audience as described below.

3 ways defining your target audience
A target audience is not meant to limit marketing campaigns to a single demographic, but to help businesses focus their efforts more effectively so they can devote more time and resources to luring customers who would benefit from their products or services. The 3 steps listed below may be useful for defining a company’s target market:

  1. Compile data about existing customers; including their demographics data, spending habits, and interests.
  2. Analyze the competitors: helps you to have a baseline of the target audiences that companies who offer similar products are yours address.
  3. Create customer personas: Customer personas are fictional characters you create for marketing purposes that exhibit the behaviors of potential clients. Using a persona, you can narrow down your target market. Understanding your customers requires creating a profile of your ideal client, which includes their demographic, behavioral, and geographic characteristics.

A key component of marketing is targeting, which is the process of choosing which prospective customers a company wants to sell goods or services to. The targeting strategy entails market segmentation, selection of the most suitable market segments, and choice of the products to be offered in each segment. Read more on market targeting on our The 4 types of market targeting strategies [A comprehensive guide].

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