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What Is Target Marketing?

What Is Target Marketing?

Advertising budgets inevitably have limited financial resources available to conduct campaigns and attract customers. Target marketing ensures the best bang for the buck on advertising dollars by focusing solely on groups likely to purchase a given product or service. Research groups, metrics, polling and ratings provide significant data which is aggregated and summarized to determine who is watching a particular television show or playing a certain video game. Once companies know which group is engaged in which form of entertainment, they can then spend their advertising dollars appropriately.


It would be a bad use of advertising resources to try and sell single moms a $75,000 BMW or college kids a Tag Heuer watch. Income-based target marketing ties consumer income levels to television shows and sporting events. This is why consumers see an inordinate number of sports car, fancy watch and financial services advertisements during professional golf and tennis tournaments. Companies which offer high-end or expensive products and services have a substantially smaller niche for sales and often consolidate their advertising to very specific events.


Almost every consumer has heard of how advertisers target a particular age group like 18 to 24 year old males or 45 to 54 year old females. Many manufacturers of more generic products like jeans and cell phones will target an age group as opposed to other key demographics based on purchasing power. For a number of years baby boomers were considered to have the greatest level of purchasing power but recently that trend has shifted more towards preteens for certain products. Targeting a particular age group for marketing is more of a catchall form of advertising. This is because age groups can contain multiple classes, lifestyles, income levels and both genders.


It might sound cliched but gender-based targeted marketing works otherwise advertisers wouldn't use it in their campaigns. While it may seem like a stereotype that girls love pink and boys smell there is normally some truth to the underlying assumption. Gender-based marketing continues to be successful for specific products and services. Even when it comes to cell phones which you might consider gender-neutral, Palm tried targeting its Pre cell phone to women because of a mirror on the back. And one of the most reviled icons of male masculinity, the Marlboro man, was used for decades to convince "real" men to smoke a particular brand of cigarettes.


Many products exude a particular type of class distinction and don't necessarily sell based on income levels or genders. It is common for companies like Coach and Ralph Lauren to target all income levels because their products are seen as upper-class. That idea that by carrying a certain handbag to a luncheon or business meeting it conveys with it a level of class and sophistication is purely a result of targeted marketing efforts. No consumer with an ounce of common sense can justify a $3,000 handbag due to materials or build quality but that is what social class based targeted marketing does best.


The lifestyle demographic tries to quantify less black and white target markets as can be done with gender, age and income. Soccer moms with three kids who are on the go or single hipsters living in the big city are considered lifestyle target groups. Other examples are divorced individuals, college students, single parents, widowed retiree's, pet owners, hipsters, urban youths, outdoor enthusiasts and basically any other pigeonhole a person can be fit into. As you can see, lifestyle target marketing is very specific and goes after a small select group of individuals.


Target marketing based on geographic location is more appropriate for regional companies or for certain geographic characteristics that only apply to a part of the country. What this means is that a regional grocery store will have little need to market nationally because customers would be unwilling to drive 500 miles due to a great price on cantaloupe. That's location-based targeted marketing. Likewise a manufacturer of snow blowers will have little need to advertise in the Southwest part of the United States as the target market will likely never need more than a snow shovel. Targeted advertising based on location is more common sense than anything else.

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