How to find your target audience in 5 steps

A person standing against a blue sky with clouds using a telescope to look for their target audience

Your target audience is the group of people most likely to want to buy your goods or services. As a business owner, if you can’t define your target audience, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

By understanding your ideal customer base, you understand their wants and needs and how best to cater to them. And through audience targeting, you can fine-tune your brand and develop effective marketing campaigns that improve customer acquisition and help you connect with those target customers.

If you fail to identify the right audience, your branding and marketing won’t have as much impact. It would be like shouting at a person in French when they only understand English.

Don’t let your branding and marketing messages get lost in translation. Follow these best practices for defining your ideal consumer — the first step in establishing a strong, lasting connection between your business and its customers.



What is a target audience?

A target audience is a specific group of people who are most likely to be interested in and benefit from your product, service, or message. It’s a defined segment of the overall population that shares common characteristics, demographics, interests, or needs. Businesses need to identify their target audience in order to tailor their marketing strategies and connect with their desired customers.

Multiple graphics of different types of people all connected to a target with a bullseye

Target audience vs. target market

While the terms "target audience" and "target market" are related, they have distinct meanings. A target audience is a narrower segment within the broader target market. It’s defined by shared characteristics such as demographics, psychographics, behaviors, and interests.

For example, a target audience for a fitness brand may be women between the ages of 25 and 40 who are interested in health and wellness.

On the other hand, a target market refers to the overall group of people or businesses that a company wants to reach and serve with its products or services. Like a target audience, it includes potential customers who share common needs and characteristics, but a target market also includes multiple target audiences that may have different demographics or preferences but still fall within the company's overall market scope. The target market for a company could include both individual consumers and businesses in various industries.

Both “targets” are important for a business to understand, but the target audience will give you more to work with when you’re developing a marketing strategy.

Benefits of knowing your target audience

As a business, it’s important to understand your target audience. Knowing who you’re talking to can make a big difference when developing your branding and marketing plans.

By identifying your ideal consumer, your business can:

If you don’t know your target audience, you may create unfocused branding and marketing materials that miss the mark — and attract negative attention from consumers.

One example is Levi’s “Hotness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes” campaign. The ad campaign for the brand’s Curve ID jeans was meant to target “curvier” women. However, the ad exclusively showed thin models — not representing the average American woman’s body. This alienated the brand’s target audience from the product.

Types of target audiences

Here are some popular niches you may use when classifying customers into market segments — a key step involved in effective audience targeting!

Purchase intention

This type of target audience refers to consumers who have an idea of a specific product they’re looking for, like someone looking for a new car.

These customers usually want to gather more information about the product and may still be comparison shopping, looking at different retailers for options.

Surveying consumers based on purchase intention can be a valuable way to determine how to beat the competition.

Using the same example, if someone is looking for a new car, you can learn what factors will impact their final purchase decision, like the car’s cost or warranty.


You can also classify customers based on interests, like their hobbies, the media channels they consume, and the entertainment they enjoy. You could target people who like to travel for fun or those with a unique passion, like rock climbing or cycling.

Creating groups based on interests allows you to make targeted, personalized branding and marketing materials. It’s easier to connect with audiences in a relatable way if you know what excites them.

If, say, you’re targeting people who enjoy cycling, speak to this with relevant content — like posting a list of cycling trails, or a tutorial on how your product can benefit cyclists.


You can also categorize consumers based on subcultures. This could include music genres, movie or TV viewership, or sports fandoms.

See how streaming platforms like Netflix cater to certain subcultures, lumping a type of content (like horror or romance) together based on a person’s viewing history.

It can be beneficial to target specific subcultures because these specific groups often have a strong sense of community.

There’s also an option to conduct audience research within a specific community to gain great insights into their wants and needs. Plus, within a community, you can use word-of-mouth marketing.

Five steps to finding your target audience

Now that you know why you need to understand your target audience, let’s go through each step of finding it.

A hand using a red pen to circle a group of people, identifying them as a target audience

1. Determine the characteristics of your products or services

Audience targeting starts with a close look at your business’s product or service offerings. The goal is to determine who’ll most likely benefit from it.

Here are three steps for getting your answer:

  1. Determine what problem your goods or services solve. For example, a meal-kit delivery service like HelloFresh solves the problem of not having time to prepare nutritious meals (or wanting to order takeout).
  2. Think about who’s most likely to benefit from your product or service solution. In the case of HelloFresh, the ideal customer might be a busy professional who doesn’t have time to cook or go to the grocery store.
  3. Define your unique selling proposition (USP). What’s your USP? For HelloFresh, the brand focuses on nutritious ingredients and easy-to-make meals for busy professionals.

With this information, you have some idea of the specific audience your business should be targeting. Following the same example, you know the people who’ll most benefit from your offering are health-conscious, busy professionals with limited time.

2. Research your market

Next, look beyond your business with external market research. Start with a competitor analysis — the odds are that your competitors have similar target audiences.

Scope out the competition and answer these questions:

You can research competitors by looking at their websites and social media platforms. There are also tools you can use to check a competitor’s website traffic, like Ahrefs and Semrush. Your audience targeting could involve seeing what search keywords they rank for and incorporating them into your content marketing.

3. Create buyer personas

Use the information gathered in the first two steps to create buyer personas — profiles of imaginary people who are your ideal target audience.

These profiles can include demographic data like:

Another technique you can use to gather demographic information is to survey existing customers. Or, consider who your target audience isn’t and create an “anti-persona” to help illuminate your desired persona.

Next, organize this data in a buyer persona profile. You can then consider how your products or services could possibly meet each person’s needs.

4. Consider your marketing channels

Once you’ve established your customer personas, examine their habits. Think about consumer behavior and consider where your potential customers spend their time, like what websites they visit or platforms they frequent. Within that process, consider what type of messaging makes the most impact on them.

Younger consumers tend to flock to social media platforms like TikTok, while older consumers generally prefer more traditional news outlets or platforms like LinkedIn. Once you know which marketing channels will be most efficacious for your campaigns, you can start creating your marketing materials.

5. Test and refine

Defining a test audience isn’t a surefire science. It’s important to conduct market research to validate your defined audience. One tried and true method is to gather customer feedback through surveys.

You can then refine your target audience as needed. This can help you make even more personalized, detailed marketing materials that resonate with the people who could be helped by your goods and services.

Three target audience examples

Sometimes it’s good to have some examples to work from so you know what your target audience might look like. Here are three examples of a target audience that should help get you started:

1. New parents

This target audience consists of individuals or couples who have recently become parents or are expecting a baby, and typically includes people in their late 20s to early 40s. Their primary interests revolve around parenting, childcare, and products and services that cater to the needs of newborns and infants.

They are concerned about the well-being of their child, seeking information on topics like breastfeeding, sleep training, baby gear, and child development. If you’re targeting this audience, focus on creating content and offering products that address these specific needs, providing helpful tips, advice, and practical solutions to navigate the challenges of early parenthood.

2. Tech enthusiasts

These individuals have a passion for technology and are early adopters of the latest gadgets and innovations. They tend to be predominantly younger, ranging from teenagers to young adults.

Tech enthusiasts follow tech news, engage in online forums, and participate in tech-related events. They’re interested in cutting-edge technology, including smartphones, gaming devices, wearable tech, and smart home solutions. To reach this audience, leverage digital platforms, tech blogs, social media, and influencer collaborations to showcase new products, provide in-depth reviews, and generate excitement around technological advancements.

3. Sustainable living advocates

These environmentally conscious individuals prioritize sustainable practices and strive to minimize their impact on the planet. They span different age groups, including millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers, and share a common concern for environmental issues.

They actively seek out eco-friendly alternatives in various aspects of their lives, such as sustainable fashion, renewable energy, zero-waste products, and organic food. If you’re targeting this audience, you can highlight the eco-friendly features of your products or services, promote sustainability initiatives, and engage in educational campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable living.

How to reach your target audience

Follow these steps to optimize your marketing efforts and connect with the right people for your business:

1. Define your target audience

Start by clearly defining your target audience based on demographics, psychographics, and purchasing behaviors. Consider factors such as age, gender, location, interests, values, and pain points.

2. Do the research

Conduct thorough market research to gain a deeper understanding of your target audience. Use surveys, focus groups, and online analytics tools — such as Google Analytics — to gather insights into their preferences, needs, and online behaviors.

3. Use the right marketing channels

Based on your target audience research, select the most effective marketing channels to reach them. This could include social media platforms, search engine advertising, content marketing, email campaigns, or traditional advertising channels — wherever they spend the most time. Engage in search engine optimization (SEO) to organically target your specific audience.

4. Tailor your messaging

Craft compelling and personalized marketing messages that speak directly to your target audience. Use visuals that resonate with your market segment. Highlight how your product or service addresses their pain points, fulfills their desires, or aligns with their values.

5. Continuously analyze and adapt

Monitor and analyze the performance of your marketing campaigns. Use data analytics tools to track key metrics such as engagement, conversion rates, and customer feedback. Identify patterns, trends, and areas for improvement. Make sure to take advantage of native social media analytics tools to track your marketing campaigns. A key part of a successful digital marketing strategy is the ability to continuously learn and adapt to changing consumer behavior.

Focus your marketing approach with audience targeting

By following these tips and steps and staying attuned to your audience's preferences, you can create impactful digital marketing campaigns that drive engagement, loyalty, and business growth.

Remember, reaching your target audience requires an ongoing commitment to understanding and adapting to their evolving needs. With a customer-centric approach and strategic targeting, you can establish a strong brand presence and achieve sustainable business growth.

Sound complicated? With Adobe Express, it doesn’t have to be. Our user persona templates are a great starting point for defining your target audience, and our marketing templates can help you plan and implement your branding and marketing strategies. Try them out today and see how easy it can be to create a successful brand and marketing strategy.

Try Adobe Express today