5 Questions that will Define Your Target Audience

To build your business, you need to identify your ideal customer and who you plan to market to. A target audience is your ideal buyer—a specific group of people who are most likely to want your product or service.

We hear it all the time. “My business targets everyone.” Let’s reframe that thought. If you’re trying to target everyone, you’re actually targeting no one.

Determining your audience can help you make more informed decisions about messaging, media, and timing. Focusing on that specific group is how you create meaningful interactions in sales and marketing. With this information, you can build powerful connections and relationships with people who want to engage with your business.

Learn more about your target audience with this discovery process:

Man holding fingers in a "C" shape to select option among floating people icons

DOES AGE MATTER?

We hear a lot about generations and their connection to consumer identities. But to pinpoint your target audience, we recommend looking past the generational personas and digging deeper into smaller age ranges. Generations span about 15 to 20 years. That can be too broad for some businesses because different age groups have vastly different needs.

For instance, someone born in 1965 is in a completely different stage of life than someone born in 1980, even though they’re both members of Generation X. Instead, compare your offerings to age-specific milestones related to school, work, and family. It can give you a much more accurate idea of your target audience rather than simplifying it to a generation.

As with everything based on demographics, there are exceptions. Some products or services don’t coincide with an apparent age range, and in some cases, the end-user is different than the buyer. For example, children do not have purchasing power, but they do have influence. So, if your company sells kid’s products, your target audience isn’t kids—it’s their parents and grandparents.

IS YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE GENDER-SPECIFIC?

More brands are leaning towards gender inclusivity. And people can purchase whatever product they want, regardless of their gender identity. Still, certain products are intended for specific audiences. We often see this with health, body care, and hair care products.

For example, a women’s multivitamin may include ingredients intended for ovarian health, while a men’s vitamin could have ingredients that help protect against prostate cancer. These ingredients align with the needs of different demographics. Buyers will choose the best option for them or pick a general dietary supplement if neither choice is ideal.

So, if you own a female-focused health and lifestyle brand, your advertising dollars are likely better spent on a female audience. If you have a gender-neutral product or service, like a gym membership, then your target audience will be broader, and you’ll likely need to focus on another defining characteristic.

IS LOCATION IMPORTANT?

Speaking of gym memberships, most people choose their gym or health club based on locality. If you sell products out of a physical storefront and not a digital one, you have to consider how far people are willing to travel to visit you. In most cases, consumers usually place convenience above all other factors.

Small businesses, grocery stores, and other product-based companies almost exclusively rely on people who live or work in the immediate area. And while it’s true that some people will go far out of their way for a new restaurant or unique store, this says more about their interests than their location.

However, people tend to travel further for certain services due to a lack of accessibility. For example, driving 45 minutes away for a good haircut or a doctor’s visit isn’t unheard of, whereas the same travel time may seem excessive for dry cleaning, especially when you pass a dry cleaner every few blocks. The more readily available options, the less likely someone will travel.





IS YOUR PRICE POINT ACCESSIBLE OR EXCLUSIVE?

As much as we’d like to live lavishly, most of us will never know the joys of international jet-setting or multimillion-dollar real estate. Some products and services are just entirely out of reach for the average consumer. But if you’re in the business of luxury goods or services, income is something to consider.

It’s also true for businesses on the other side of the spectrum. If you have reasonably priced products, you’re more likely to see success with people who are looking for affordability—middle-class and lower-income households. Low prices aren’t necessarily important to a consumer with a significant disposable income.

DO YOU HAVE A NICHE BUSINESS?

Before you finally narrow down your target audience, you have to determine if you have a niche product or service. Your offerings may not fit into everyone’s lifestyle, and that’s okay. Depending on your business, your target audience might be broad or niche. Some companies are for the masses, and others are for people who have special interests. It’s your job to determine if your business appeals to most consumers or a smaller segment of buyers.

Behind every mainstream interest is a subculture or niche that attracts fewer people. For example, the homeowners who need remodeling services are not the same ones looking for historic home restoration. Everyone wears clothes, but some people need specialty sizes or want a specific style. You may be a music enthusiast but prefer listening to your favorite songs on vinyl.

Most businesses fall into one of two categories—they think everyone could use their product or services or have an incredibly narrow focus on a specific group. You can’t include everyone, but you also cannot exclude everyone.

Realistically, your audience should include a diverse range of people. If you’re having a hard time imagining your target audience, you likely need to do some more research and brainstorming. And if you’re too hyper-focused, you may want to reevaluate your attention and broaden your market.