Any good marketer knows that the first and most important step in executing a successful marketing strategy – is defining your target customer. Unless you sell a commodity product like sugar or gasoline, your product or service is probably going to appeal to one group of consumers and not to others. Your target market’s needs should inform all subsequent marketing decisions including product design, price, and your promotion’s strategy.

First you need to decide if you are primarily trying to sell your product to Consumers (B2C) or Businesses (B2B). If you are a B2C company – consumer target market research is typically broken into two categories. The first is demographics – or abstract characteristics of your customer like their age, postal code, gender, and income. The second is psychographics – or the psychological aspects of your customer such as their wants, needs, fears, behavior, and general attitudes. Read about some of these key market aspects below:

Demographics

  • Age Group: The age of your audience is perhaps the most discussed demographic component. Obviously Generation Y’s buying habits differ from Generation X’s, differ from Baby Boomers’. Make sure you figure out which age group or groups you are trying to reach.
  • Marital Status: Another key variable is whether a customer is married or single. This is important because a married person may need to defer to his wife or her husband in order to make purchases. Or they may need to factor in other household expenses or costs related to their children. A single person has much more latitude and autonomy in what they buy and when they buy it.
  • Income: This is probably the most important demographic variable. If you are selling a high-priced product many consumers simply will not be able to buy – whether they want to or not. Alternately, if you are trying to reach a broader market you will need to price your product so that the average person can afford to buy.

Psychographics

  • Media Consumed: The media channels that your target market uses is especially important to your promotions strategy. If your typical buyer does not watch TV or read the paper – it is completely useless for you to advertise your services on TV or in the Sunday Times.
  • Decision Making: Another key psychographic variable is identifying the person that is ultimately responsible for making purchasing decisions for your customer. For instance, your customer maybe pre-teen boys – but the decision maker or ultimate buyer is actually their mothers. Or if you run an elder care service, you may find that adult children are the actual decision makers as to where their parents will get care.
  • Values: What are the values most important to your target market? Do they care about women’s rights, the environment, political reform, organic vegetables? It is very important to know what your customer cares about so that your firm can align your products and partnerships, along with your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts, to match their affinities.

Essentially it is vital to view your potential customer as a complete, complex individual. You should learn as much about them as you would your closest friends and family members. Let this knowledge inform all marketing decisions. This is the only way to create successful products and engaging promotions.

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