Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update:
  • The University of Lincoln would like to reassure you that all of our online Masters programmes are continuing as normal and on schedule.
  • The programmes are taught and studied entirely online, which means that they can be studied and completed from home, without any disruption to teaching provision or learning activities.
  • We are committed to ensuring that students are not disadvantaged in their studies by issues caused directly or indirectly by Covid-19 and we will be providing additional support to affected students wherever necessary.
  • Please contact us on +44 (0) 1522 254 022 or [email protected] if you have any questions.
Marketing segmentation and targeting, individual customer care, CRM and leader concepts. Human resources officer select one person, office out of focus in background, wide (banner) composition.

How to identify target markets and create meaningful engagement

Hootsuite defines a target market as ‘the specific group of people you want to reach with your marketing message’. This group is made up of individuals who are most likely to buy certain products and engage with certain services, who also share characteristics in common with one another – such as behaviours, interests and demographics.

Isolating target markets and types of customers involves asking key questions to find out more about what they want, their purchasing behaviours and pain points, what kind of promotions they engage with and more, and is a cornerstone of the market research process. Understanding who to pitch products and services to – and how – helps generate engagement, sales and business growth for business owners and marketing professionals alike.

Why is defining a target market important?

In short, businesses who fail to accurately define their target market, or markets, are wasting valuable time, money and resources marketing to the wrong group of consumers. Defining a target market however, can help to improve return on investment (ROI) and bolster a business’s bottom line, by using selected marketing efforts that connect potential customers to the specific products they are interested in. 

Each potential customer may have a different perception of your brand. As such, marketing decisions – such as the stories behind products, or the marketing messages, visuals and taglines used – may also impact and resonate with them differently. Targeted marketing of an audience helps remove some of this differentiation, allowing for better-crafted campaigns that have the desired effect on the ideal customer base.

There are numerous additional benefits to accurately defining a target market, including enhancing a business’s ability to:

  • attract the highest leads
  • connect directly with specific audiences and focus on specific market segments
  • improve products and services
  • deepen customer loyalty and manage current customers and customer relations
  • increase brand recognition and awareness
  • make best use of marketing efforts and related resources.

What are the steps to identifying a target market?

  • Identify existing customers. In order to zone in on a target market, it’s important to first examine the current customer base. No matter how diverse an existing pool of customers may seem, there are certain commonalities to be found. Find out what they have in common. It may be obvious – for example, they are all stay-at-home parents, or a specific interest might group them together. Next, understanding which of the ‘common threads’ is making the most revenue could be an ideal place to start


  • Assess competition. This step is key to finding points of differentiation and deciding why and how a product or service will stand out from similar offerings in the marketplace. Who is shopping with competitors? What are they buying? Are they interacting with similar brands in online spaces? As well as helping develop unique selling points (USPs), this exercise can spot opportunities, business ideas and gaps in the market that can support a product or service offering further, or highlight new customer demographics previously unconsidered. Use of data insights, such as Google Analytics, is invaluable here.


  • Profile the customer base. What features of a product are most attractive to a particular audience? How and when will it be used? What role does it play in their lifestyle? Start with broad questions and narrow down until there are specifics and fundamentals that can help plan a marketing approach. Exploring which smaller section of a larger target market spends the most money will help to map marketing activities to engage the most potentially lucrative target customers. For example, research may indicate that millennials who shop for swimwear online are a narrower audience who spend lots of recreational time on social media apps; as such, sponsored ads or influencer marketing on Instagram may be a key strategy for promoting to this group.


  • Analyse the product or service offering. Compile a comprehensive list of products and services, together with their individual features. What benefits does each offer? What is the added value? For example, is it saved time, or increased efficiency, or the range of features provided in one place? Determining the benefits – and, ultimately, what this means for customer lives – helps scope out which individuals would benefit most, adding further nuance or data to who your target, or niche, audience may be.


  • Develop a target market statement. A target market statement offers a framework and template from which a brand positioning statement can be developed. Find the most useful information regarding customer characteristics and demographics to support this. For example, a target market statement may include details such as ‘providing affordably priced, balanced, pre-prepared meals to time-poor, working professionals who want to feed their families without visiting a supermarket’.   

What are the main types of market segmentation?

Let’s take a closer look at the different methods of categorising target audiences. Known as market segmentation, this practice involves separating a market into approachable groups.

  • Psychographic segmentation. Psychographics considers key characteristics of new and existing customers, such as personality, values and beliefs, hobbies and interests, and lifestyle.
  • Geographic areas. Exploring the geographical locations of a customer base can range from the local – neighbourhoods and postcodes, to the global – cities and countries.
  • Demographic segmentation. Customer demographics can be narrowed down into categories by characteristics including income, gender, age, education level, marital status or family status, religion and race.
  • Behavioural segmentation. The individual behaviours of customers span aspects such as brand interactions, user status – for example, whether they are a non-user, a prospect, or a first-time buyer of a product – and purchasing and spending habits.

Segmentation is critical for marketers to get right as it underpins vital marketing decisions, such as messaging, product placement, marketing strategy and pricing. It also helps develop buyer personas which are useful to more focused marketing efforts.

What is the difference between target market and niche market?

It’s important to note that a target market cannot be ‘everyone’. Addressing an audience effectively involves whittling down a target market to identify a narrower, more specific group of people – a niche market. Understanding who the niche market is can provide a clearer focus for marketing goals and, subsequently, activities.

For example, a line of questioning to identify a niche, subset market within a larger group (in this case, gym goers) one may ask: 

  • Are you a member of a gym? 
  • Are you a member of a gym in a city? 
  • Are you a member of a gym in a city and want to try fitness classes? 
  • Are you a member of a gym in a city and want to try fitness classes that focus on X? 
  • And so on.

While many businesses will invest time and resources into market research to uncover potential niche markets, others may discover them naturally as certain audiences and groups respond particularly well to certain products and services.

Craft effective, impactful marketing plans and campaigns for your target audience

If you want to learn how to increase leads and generate more sales, choose the University of Lincoln’s flexible, online MSc Management with Marketing programme.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur launching a start-up, a marketing professional helping brands to meet their goals, or a small business owner with ambitions of growing your offering, gain the skills and expertise needed to succeed in your venture. You’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of business, management and leadership, across key areas such as international marketing, digital marketing, consumer behaviour, and product development.