What is a target audience?

Knowing your target audience is essential for companies when they develop, improve and market their products and services. In this guide, we explain what a target audience is and their different types.

Definition of a target audience

A target audience is a group of people for whom a product or service is designed. Essentially, a group of (potential) customers. Your target audience is defined by different but similar characteristics, for example, age, gender or purchasing behavior. These characteristics can decide, for example, how a certain group is addressed by companies. This can have a huge effect on marketing and content strategy.

Why do I need to know my target audience?

Knowing your target audience is really important when it comes to marketing since it defines how an offer can best be marketed. Which language is used? Which colors, images and sounds? Which channels are used for advertising?

Here are some simple examples to make this clearer: 20–30 year olds much prefer informal language and will happily accept ads on TikTok, Instagram or via email marketing. Those over 50 will read newspapers and magazines and prefer more formal language.

If you don’t know your target audience, it’s hard to get your marketing right. You could easily miss (potential) customers.


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The advantages and disadvantages of target audiences

One of the advantages of target audiences is that you get a really clear idea of those who you want to reach with your marketing campaigns. You can always compare your new ideas with your target audience. The best thing is that you can save money since you’re only focusing your advertising on a small section of the market and not everyone. At the same time, you earn more money, since the possibility of you making a sale from your ads is much more likely.

One disadvantage or danger is that you can exclude people when defining your target audience. This is due to some who may not meet the criteria you set for your audience but would still be interested in your product or service. To reduce this risk, it’s important to regularly check whether your target audience has changed and whether there are other relevant target audiences.

How do I define my target audience?

To find your relevant target audience, you should first fully understand your product or service. Which needs does your product meet? Which problems does it solve? Finally you should be able to answer which people have those needs/problems. The next step is to collect data on these people. You can get this data from your existing customers, by carrying out market analysis and using publicly available information.

Use our in-depth guide to find out how you can define your target audience. It’s not actually important whether you use the market analysis for a marketing campaign or completely renew your business’ aims. The processes are always the same. It’s also useful to carry out an analysis for smaller projects, e.g. If you want to find the target audience for your blog.


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The characteristics of your target audience

When you’re collecting and evaluating your data you need to take into account the different characteristics of those in your target audience (as well as using it to exclude people). The most important characteristics are split into four categories:

  • Demographic characteristics: in this group you will consider age, gender, location and family situations.
  • Socioeconomic characteristics: including, for example, education and income.
  • Psychographic characteristics: include lifestyle, motivations and (basic) values.
  • Purchasing habits: include how often a particular product is bought or how often a service is used. How important is the price point?

To find out more about how to work with socioeconomic and psychographic characteristics, take a look at our guide on sinus milieu.

B2B and B2B target audiences

When defining your target audience it’s worthwhile knowing the difference between B2B and B2C. In other words, whether you’re selling to businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C). Individual consumers can be separated in a different way to business customers. The characteristics above are more applicable to individuals.

B2B is different, the industry, company size and position are more relevant in this case. Only then can you (in part) use the characteristics set out above to define your target audience. One challenge with B2B marketing is that the target audience is often “controlled externally” by their company values. Marketing and in particular finding the right B2B content marketing strategy can be very challenging.


Social media is important for both B2B and B2C marketing. You can also use our guide to social selling to find out more. You can also use the Social Buy Button from IONOS to improve sales using social media.

Target audience and personas

When working out your target audience, you will also come across the term “(buyer) personas”. What we mean by this is real but fictitious people, created on the basis of the target audience. Personas have a name, a gender and a realistic biography which reflect the characteristics of the target audience. This makes your work with the target audience more precise and easier. Buyer personas are a subgroup of the personas. Buyer personas are a specific, finely defined group of buyers. Personas on the other hand are more general.

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