What Does Targeting Mean in Marketing? (And How to Do It)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 26, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When marketers promote their products, they usually try to target their most lucrative consumers, who're the most likely to purchase their products or services. They often do this through processes of target marketing, which divide consumers into segments to determine the demographics on which to focus most of their attention. Understanding what targeting is in marketing is key to creating strategies which promote products or services to the best consumers for a business.

In this article, we answer the question, "What does targeting mean in marketing?", explain how to target markets effectively, define the types of market segmentation, review the meaning of customer personas, highlight using market targeting using analytics, and list some primary benefits.

What does targeting mean in marketing?

To answer the question, "What does targeting mean in marketing?", we can examine why marketers may want to separate some consumers from others. Targeting in marketing means dividing consumers into segments so that they can design marketing strategies to be as effective as possible for particular groups of people. Segmentation enables marketers to determine the factors that relate to consumers who're the most likely to engage with the brand and purchase its products or services. The target audience for a business and its brand usually have needs and desires which create a commercial opportunity for the company.

Not only does targeting involve identifying an understanding of the consumers who comprise the target audience for a brand, but also implementing strategies to reach them and build relationships. These strategies can be above the line, or ATL, or BTL, which is below the line. Above the line refers to strategies which are visible to the consumer, such as advertising. Below the line refers to marketing strategies which consumers may not recognize as marketing activity, such as pricing structures.

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How to target markets effectively

Market targeting often uses a three-step STP process. These stages are segmentation, targeting, and promotion. Here's how to do these three stages:

1. Engage in segmentation

The first stage is for marketers to divide their target audience into segments. They do this by using information about these individuals, such as age, location, hobbies, or shopping habits. These defining characteristics create a profile which marketers and advertisers can use to inform their strategies and understand which marketing tactics may yield the best results to different groups.

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2. Conduct targeting

When marketers have defined the segments of their market, they can evaluate which of these segments relate the most to their mission, values, or commercial offering. Targeting a specific demographic is key for deploying campaigns which may have the highest impact on the individuals who may engage the most with a brand. This also means that marketers can target different segments with alternative campaigns when they have differing but equally important segments. For instance, a department store may use different tactics to target parents compared to those they use to target teenagers.

3. Create a promotion

Finally, promotion means using the specialized messaging and campaigns which marketers have designed for each market segment they intend to target. This can involve using the most appropriate marketing channels for each segment in terms of the platforms, messaging, or promotional activity that work best for each target audience. In the promotion stage, marketers often prioritize their most lucrative segments to make the best use of their budgets. For example, if one segment represents 60% of a brand's consumers, they may allocate a relative percentage of their marketing budget to reaching this demographic.

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Types of market segmentation

Here are some descriptions of the main types of market segmentation that marketers use to define their target audiences:

Geographical

Geographical segmentation is the process of identifying target audiences based on their location. For example, the area in which someone lives can influence their status as a consumer of a particular brand's products. This form of segmentation operates on the understanding that geography can affect a consumer's need or desire for a product or service. For example, marketers promoting a fast-food chain may target individuals who live close to their outlets. Geographical segmentation can be as specific as the street where you go to work, or as general as the country in which you live.

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Demographic

Another basic form of segmentation which marketers use is demographic segmentation. This identifies observable qualities of their target audience. Some of these factors include:

  • age

  • marital status

  • family status

  • education

  • gender identity

  • religious beliefs

  • income level

Psychographic

This method of segmentation divides a consumer base by its socio-economic class or lifestyle preferences. These elements can have a significant effect on the purchasing decisions an individual makes, so understanding this element of market segmentation is key for ensuring that you market the right products to the right consumers. For example, if a company markets suitcases, it's essential for that business to understand whether its target market might rather buy an affordable yet reliable suitcase, or an aesthetic suitcase with advanced features at a higher cost.

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Consumer personas

A common tool which marketers use to target specific demographics is consumer personas. These are hypothetical individuals who represent the brand's best consumers to target, and describing them in detail allows brands to create the best strategies for reaching them and delivering impactful campaigns. An effective consumer persona considers all the characteristics of a particular market segment and allows marketers to extrapolate from them. For example, a consumer persona for a fashion accessory brand may be something like this:

Sam is 16 years old and enjoys hanging out with her friends on the weekends. She tries hard in school and follows fashion trends closely. Sam is highly active on social media and follows many of her favourite celebrities, such as pop stars and reality television personalities. She works a part-time job a few afternoons per week where she earns a small disposable income.

Market targeting using analytics

Using market analytics in consumer targeting is essential for identifying which customers currently comprise your consumer-base, and also which may have the highest potential for becoming consumers. Through in-depth analysis of your own position in the market and how you relate to your competitors, you can increase your ability to target various segments with the most informed and promising strategies. Market analytics are a form of essential feedback for the marketing activity that works well, targets specific audiences, or resonates with the largest proportion of desirable consumers.

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Benefits of target marketing

There are several distinct benefits to targeting in marketing. Some of these benefit profits, while others mean that marketers can create more effective campaigns. Here are some key benefits of using targeting methods in your marketing strategies:

Save costs of marketing campaigns

The ROI, or return on investment, is a common measure of how successful a campaign has been. A campaign's ROI is the financial benefit, such as gross profit, which a company gains after investing funds in expenditures like marketing campaigns. When a business understands its key target markets, they can personalize their marketing to their most lucrative consumers and ensure a higher ROI by avoiding unnecessary spending. This means that a brand can use its budget intelligently to implement marketing strategies that have a higher likelihood of increasing sales and revenue.

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Create more impactful campaigns

Through market targeting, marketers can create campaigns that best suit the sensibilities, values, habits, and preferences of their target audience. By gaining insights into these factors, marketers can create messaging that appeals more to their key demographics. This also helps to establish longer and more trusting relationships between the brand and its consumers.

Design a brand voice which resonates

One of the key factors of a brand's marketing is its voice. A brand voice is the personality, identity, and tone that it uses in its marketing and advertising. An effective brand voice appeals to its consumers and resonates with them to personify the brand in a way that endears it to these key consumers. Through segmentation, marketers can identity when certain brand voices may be more appropriate for particular groups. For example, a grocery brand may use a slightly different brand voice when advertising to elderly consumers than they may when advertising to young adults.

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