Author Bio: Originally from Grimsby, Shaun is a Politics, Philosophy and Economics Undergraduate at Goldsmiths University of London. Shaun has joined the Quick Team as a content writer for the summer period.

We often unknowingly use the terms target market and target audience interchangeably.  However, understanding the difference between these two terms is essential for small business marketers.  Each term has a different practical implication on different components of marketing products, services and brands. This short article will outline and explain the differences between target markets and target audiences.

Target market

A target market is defined as a group of people that a business has decided to aim its marketing efforts and ultimately its products at. It is those who wish to use and consume the product or service.  The groups of people are based primarily on taste and preferences, however, general groups or markets are based around the characteristics age, location, kinship, gender, ethnicity, class and so on.

The purpose of target marketing is to coordinate the various aspects of product marketing toward a single group in order to maximize the appeal to that specific market. In short, a target market is that which a business targets a product or service at.

For example, the target market of a producer of the popular children’s toys such as ‘action man’ would be boys aged 3-11. Additionally, the target market for diapers is babies and toddlers of all genders.

Target audience

In contrast, a target audience is the people that a business expects to purchase the product. The product itself is not necessarily aimed for them to enjoy or consume. The target audience can be separated into groups sharing certain characteristics such as gender, income, job, family size and so on.

In certain circumstances, your advertising efforts may be of better use to your target audience rather than your target market.  They are the ones purchasing the item after all.

Take an example I used earlier, the target market for diapers is babies and toddlers, however, the target audience for diapers is the parents of babies and toddlers. In this case, advertising and marketing efforts would be aimed at the parents of toddlers.