Target Market vs Target Audience: How to Define and Approach the Difference

Look for marketing strategies and tips, and one article tells you to consider your “target audience” in every blog piece.

The next article may tell you to first define your “target market.”

Worse yet, many resources interchangeably use these terms, leading to a whole lot of confusion.

Let’s dive into the difference between target market and target audience and how your business can effectively use both.

What’s the Difference Between Target Market and Target Audience?

First, let’s take a look at the definition of each and how they are different.

Target Market

Your target market defines those who you have in mind for purchasing your products or services. Who did you create your offer for?

For example, imagine that you created a pair of high-end maternity jeans. In this case, you’d be targeting women of childbearing age who describe themselves as currently or planning to be pregnant. Based on this broad target market, you could further narrow things down based on other demographics like relationship status, career, income, and more.

Target Audience

Your target audience is only part of your target market. For every marketing activity or promotion, you must define your target audience. Not every piece of content is geared toward your entire target market.

In the example of the maternity jeans company, imagine that you’re hosting a panel in New Jersey. It wouldn’t make sense to send promotional emails to members of your target market who live in Oregon, only to those in the NJ area. You’d be only marketing to a segment of your overall target market.

Both your target market and your target audience matters. The target audience is a subset of your market. This means that your target market should influence all business decisions, whereas the target audience is most relevant to specific campaigns.

How to Approach the Difference

Clearly, both the target market and target audience matter for your business. But navigating these two aspects can be a challenge.

Since your target market guides all of your business efforts, it’s the first thing you should define. You must be crystal clear on who your product / service is for. Create an “ideal customer” avatar to bring them to life. Your target market is not “women ages 25 to 40”, it might be “Susie, a full-time Real Estate agent, an upper-middle-class woman engaged and looking to have kids within 3 years.”

When defining your target market, demographics certainly matter, but so do obstacles, motivation, personality, etc. Two brands may have similar products, but different target markets. The personal details of your target market define the overall tone and strategy of your marketing efforts.

Once you’ve defined your target market, then you can implement market segmentation. Why do this? To create highly targeted, personalized content. If your content is not personally relevant, 90% of U.S. consumers will find it annoying.

Every single campaign or promotion is not relevant to every single member of your target market. Consider the example maternity jeans company above. Content promoting Mother’s Day and referencing those who are already mothers and looking to have another child will not be relevant to a woman who has not yet had any children. At the same time, content giving tips for first-time mothers will not be relevant to a woman who’s already had children.

Based on this example, it’s clear that the company selling high-end maternity jeans should segment its target market into different target audiences for those two types of content.

Why Use a Segmented Target Audience?

So, much like you need to define your target market, you must define your target audience for each campaign. Which subset of your target market is this content for? Sometimes, the content may be relevant for your entire target market, but many times it’s smart to segment into a target audience.

Here are some reasons to segment your target market into a target audience:
  • Provide clear direction for optimized marketing materials.
  • Targeted marketing materials are more effective.
  • Tailor details and descriptions to match their needs and desires.
  • Leverage digital marketing data to improve future campaigns.
  • Foster a relationship with the audience to boost loyalty.

Engage 2 Engage is Here to Help!

Both your target market and target audience play a vital role in your marketing efforts. To create effective marketing campaigns, you must clearly understand and define both your target market and target audience.

But navigating the differences can be tricky and time-consuming.

That’s why Engage 2 Engage is here to help!

We work closely with you to develop and implement a powerful roadmap for growing your business online. Our done-with-you marketing strategy service provides the expertise you need to handle the key aspects of online marketing for driving organic traffic. Save time and money while leveraging a well-defined, clear target market and target audience in no time. Watch every campaign generate more success with our help.

Learn more about how our programs can help you today!


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