Marketing 101: Target Market & Target Audience

Rewriting the entry, will be done shortly

Target market and target audience are essential elements that determines the tone and manner of a marketing strategy. However, the proximity of meaning between the two sometimes trap “green marketers” in formulating a strategy. In my field of work and in my teaching days, I always found people who mistook target market and target audience.

The concept is very simple, yes, but I admit I too used to mistake the meaning of both. Target market is literally means to which we target that general product/service too, while target audience is the people that we expect to purchase or use the product/service. In short, target audience can become the target market.

One of the extreme examples I used on the class to describe the definition of target market and target audience is baby milk. The baby consumes the product, which means they are our target market. However, babies doesn’t go around shopping the milk themselves, it’s their parents job. Again, this is oversimplifying target audience and swerving too close to buying process, with the parents acting as the buyer while the baby as the user. However, the information is given to the audience about the benefit of the product towards the target market.

When talking about target market and target audience, we also uses buying

Let’s take another easier example with less ambiguous but more general. Let’s take Honda entry level scooter, the 2010 Beat. For purists out there, no, this is not the “mini NSX”, this is a small two wheel scooter that spearheads Honda effort to sell scooters in Indonesia. We can see everywhere the tone and manner of Beat’s promotion, from billboards to printed ads, they all depicts famous young stars riding the bike. The visuals alone indicate a strong relation to the young, perhaps those who are still in high school or in their college years (indicated by the figure the stars imposed).

Target market wise, these young people are Honda key target but, do they have the money to buy it? At US$1,2K or roughly Rp. 12 Million, the bike is rather expensive for somebody with no main income outside from monthly allowance. This is where we are seeing the expansiveness of target audience and the focused target market.

Honda Beat with its catchy younger tone visuals is targeted to the young, this is its target market, however, the target audience for the beat is all people who can drive a motorbike. A little bit extreme and lazy observation, but I wanted to exemplify the meaning in the simplest way possible. Even though the Beat is targeted at young people, there’s no fault at older people or other people from other discipline of work to own the Beat. As a matter of fact, there’s the bonus of resonating message from the initial campaign. Beat’s marketing effort is directed towards younger audience, sometimes, “older” people would like to be associated with this “young” image and thus bought the bike even though they are outside the target market, and even audience.

Most often, I saw seniors or older people driving around in the new Honda Jazz, and as fast as I can think, wow… Those guys are really young at heart. They should be driving Mercedes or perhaps Accord, but no, for whatever reason they drove a Jazz instead. I don’t see them as incapable of buying upmarket products because of economic reason, I just saw them as wanting to be associated with the image created by the product (Jazz = young & hip).

The definition of target market and target audience can be found on many books and sources. They are after all the basic element for a marketer to base the overall marketing strategy and approach. However, there is one thing that pique my interest… On his book, Marketing Management by Philip Kotler, he omits target audience altogether and just refer target market as a sole base value to be considered when creating a marketing strategy. Well, a good move, but personally I think that the book is intended towards advanced readers who already understand the boundary of audience and the real target market.

Some uses psychographics and demographics to create distinct barrier between target audience and target market. One of my marketing professors defines that psychographic and demographic creates core target market while outside of those influence comes in the target audience. Let’s put those in graphics shall we?

Applying that to Honda Beat core target market, we can see that

Okay, so last week I blabber about how Yamaha changed the target market of Mio from female to male with the introduction of Mio Soul. I expect other brands will follow suit (Honda & Suzuki) because as far as these eyes can see, all automatic scooters are being driven by the male population. However, yesterday I saw an ad about Honda Vario, they still use this popular actress to promote the brand alone, without any hint whatsoever to indicate that this scooter is a unisex bike. On the other side of the competition, Suzuki launched Skywave, the successor of the not so popular Spin, an automatic scooter. The advertisement clearly shows a very macho man and a very sexy woman, just like Yamaha did with the new Mio soul.

So will this bring about wrong image delivery to Honda Vario? After all, people aspire to the “representation” of people displayed on the ad. Well, the answer is not that simple… First of all, if anybody remember how Honda Jazz (Fit) is advertised here in Indonesia, then people will acknowledge that Honda used a pair of popular female singers to endorse the product. So does only female buys Jazz? No, does only young people buy Jazz? Not so much.

Here we have what I would like to call, “splash damage”, the message that originally intended towards specific target audience spreads to other expected segment. When people buy something first they have to go through what marketing defines as The Buying Process, yes, a process. In it, people will go through several phases, first people will acknowledge/know the product, then interest will grow, decision making is formed and action is taken to buy or not to buy. Yes, it is AIDA we are talking about here, the basic skill we learn at faculty of communication, but do you notice there’s a few word that I leaned? (pardon the pun)…

Decision making, what is all that about, and what it got to do with Honda Vario? Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t know. But one thing for sure, this has got to do with target audience and target market. When you sell a baby’s milk, do you create:

a. Advertisement for the baby

b. Advertisement for the mother

c. Advertisement for the father

Sane people will choose mother or father, but the product (the milk) is consumed by the baby, so why not create an ad for the baby? Anybody who asks of this should be shunned out of society immediately. Of course the baby couldn’t comprehend the ad, they doesn’t even comprehend why the sky is blue or why daddy hump mommy at night in front of them. Thus this explains the very basic of the difference between target market and target audience; with the baby being the target market and the parents as the target audience.

Anyway, back to the matter, so why is Honda still uses a female representative to promote Vario? Simple, because Honda Jazz is promoted by two female singers and we all know that most Jazz drivers are male.

Hot of the press! Updates galore! Last weekend rollade I close the week with a completion of Marketing Garbage entry. So Honda uses a famous actress to attract customer and consolidates its presence using the hottest spokesperson in the town. But waaaiiitt… It seems that I’m too fast from making a judgment, because just a couple days ago (I think on sunday) I saw an ad of Honda Vario with that hot spokeswoman and a hot spokesman, another handsome pretty face which I don’t know the name of because I’m too busy writing a blog thingie.

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