What is a Target Market?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Also known as a target audience or a targeted market, a target market is a specific group of consumers that a business wishes to attract and sell its line of goods or services to. A target market may be defined in terms of age, gender, sexual orientation, economic class, ethnicity, religion, or location. This process of socio-economic grouping allows businesses to create profiles of the typical customer who is likely to purchase products from the company, which in turn provides the basis for the creation of marketing and sales initiatives that allow the business to build a clientele within that customer demographic.

Some marketing initiatives target senior citizens and Baby Boomers.
Some marketing initiatives target senior citizens and Baby Boomers.

The identification of a target market is very important to the long-term operation of a business. Without a clear understanding of who is likely to be interested in the products offered by the company, it is very difficult to proactively take steps to connect with potential customers. By defining the basic characteristics of a given target audience, and then identifying the ways that the company can meet their needs and wants, the process of building a customer base becomes much easier.

A target market may be defined in terms of age or ethnicity.
A target market may be defined in terms of age or ethnicity.

While some companies tend to focus on reaching and maintaining a specific target market, other businesses will seek to establish ongoing relationships with consumers in several different markets. This helps to insulate the company from sudden changes in customer tastes or financial reversals that impact the entire consumer demographic. For example, if a company cultivates one product line that appeals to teens and another that attracts people between the ages of fifty and sixty-five, the business can often offset unforeseen drops in sales in one demographic with the continuing strong sales in the other.

Many companies use the concept of a target market to develop new product lines that will allow the business to increase the size of its client base within that same demographic. This means that a company which produces sporting equipment may create and market a line of sports memorabilia, such as wall art, histories of various sports, or jewelry with a sports theme. Consumers who already purchase the sporting equipment may also purchase goods from the additional lines, since they trust the products previously purchased from the manufacturer.

It is not unusual for any business to assess its appeal in various target markets, and determine if there is a need to expand into other markets. Even companies that have already diversified and have a strong presence in several markets will want to be on the lookout for emerging markets where they can reach different demographics while holding on to current clients. For this reason, the task of identifying and qualifying a target market is an ongoing process for businesses of any size, ranging from the mom-and-pop store down the street to the multi-national corporation.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Identifying your Target Market is the key to a successful business. Once you identify your Target Market, now you can run all the numbers and determine if your service or product will produce a profit. Set your goals and write your business plan now you have your road map to success.


Subway11- I want to add that sometimes a product that hasn't even come on the market yet will be offered to a select group of target market customers in order to gain insight regarding the prototype.

Based on the data received from the market research firm, the company can enhance the product before it actually goes out onto the market. This allows the company to create the appropriate target market positioning for its product.


Icecream17- I also want to say that companies do a lot of target market research to determine what is the ideal product or service for their demographic target market.

The target market analysis usually includes the help of market research firms. These firms will often perform focus groups as well as formal surveys to determine the likes and dislikes of the target market.


A target market demographics include specific information regarding the consumers that the company is trying to focus on.

For example, a beer target market might include men between the ages of 21 and 50 that have household incomes of $50,000 or more.

This can be determined by the types of advertisements you see on television for a particular beer. They are usually geared towards men of that age.

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