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Target markets and target audiences

What is the difference between target markets and audiences, and how do you use them as part of your marketing strategy? Learn more in this article.
A target amongst a representation of people or customers.

Targeting is such a key word in marketing – and wider communications for that matter. Understanding customers is a key part of building a successful brand and a successful business by understanding who they are and what their needs are.

It’s important for your brand and your business to have a clear idea of who you are trying to reach out to, to become customers. In marketing, we refer to this group as a target market. This is a group of people who represent the future of your business. These are the customers who have not yet bought from you. They are the members who have not yet subscribed or the long-term clients who have only just started the journey of finding out about you. In sales terms, these are the leads that you generate so that your sales staff can convert them into paying customers.

You can choose the right messages and the right channels to distribute your marketing messages once you have a clear idea of where people are and what they want. And you can also tailor your product or service to meet the changing needs by understanding their experience of finding you through to staying with you.

Luxurious soap

This example from Investopedia illustrates what one product looks like from three different brands targeting their soap to three different target audiences [1]:

  • Aveda beauty stores sell their Rosemary Mint Bath Bar for $23 – targeted to the upscale and eco-conscious woman who will pay extra for quality.
  • Cle de Peau Beaute Synactif Soap retails for $110 a bar and is marketed to wealthy, fashion-conscious women who are willing to pay a premium for a luxury product.
  • And Amazon targets their eight-pack of Dial soap for less than $5 on Amazon. It gets the job done.

It’s all just soap right? Not to these audiences, so the marketing changes.

The difference between target markets and target audiences

Target markets and target audiences are similar concepts, but they differ in their level of specificity.

A target market is the larger group of people or organisations that your company or brand aims to sell its products or services to. This group is identified based on broad characteristics such as demographics, geographics, psychographics, and behaviour.

A target audience, on the other hand, is a more specific group of people within the target market who are most likely to respond to your particular marketing campaign or message. The target audience is identified based on specific interests, preferences, and behaviours that align with the company’s products or services.

To give you an example, a company that sells running shoes might target the broader market of fitness enthusiasts who enjoy running. Within this target market, the company might identify a specific target audience of serious runners who participate in marathons and require high-performance shoes.

In summary, a target market is a larger group of potential customers that a company is interested in reaching, while a target audience is a more specific subset of that market that is most likely to respond to a particular marketing campaign or message.

Who is your ideal customer?

Your brand’s ideal customer is a representation of your target audience that is most likely to engage with and purchase your products or services.

Creating an ideal customer profile – or a buyer persona – helps you to better understand and target your audience, as well as develop more effective marketing strategies. By identifying the characteristics and preferences of your ideal customer, you can tailor your messaging and offerings to resonate with that specific group of people, resulting in increased engagement, loyalty, and sales.

For example, the ideal customer for your luxury clothing brand might be a well-educated, affluent woman between the ages of 25 and 45, who values quality, exclusivity, and style. This customer may be interested in high-end fashion, luxury travel, fine dining, and other luxury goods and services. The brand would use this information to create marketing campaigns and product offerings that appeal to this ideal customer, such as limited-edition collections, exclusive events, and personalized styling services.

Let’s call her Samantha.

Target avatar

Now you are marketing to a character you can picture, which can make it easier. You’ve moved beyond the vagaries of demographics like a 25 to 45 woman earning over $150,000 a year to thinking about “Samantha”. It’s easier to write, design and film messages with a person in mind rather than datasets.

And if you have more than one target audience, you can develop buyer personae for each one. This gives you the significant benefit of being able to clearly delineate different audiences you are targeting.


1. The Investopedia Team. Target Markets: What Everyone Should Know [Internet]. Investopedia. 2022. Available from:‌

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