The term “target audience” is narrower than “target market.” It refers specifically to the group of consumers targeted by marketing messaging.

Advertising specialist Tom Duncan explains: A target audience is “a group that has significant potential to respond positively to a brand message.”

Your target audience may or may not be the end users of your product, but they are the people you plan to direct your marketing to.

To communicate effectively with your target audience, you need to understand who they are, and what their true needs and desires are.


Because, “no matter what your product is, you are ultimately in the education business,” said Robert G. Allen. “Your customers need to be constantly educated about the many advantages of doing business with you, trained to use your products more effectively, and taught how to make never-ending improvement in their lives.”

What’s more, remember what author and marketing guru Orvel Ray Wilson said: “Customers buy for their reasons, not yours.”

Orvel Ray Wilson Quote

Let’s revisit the McDonald’s example we looked at above.

Target Audience Example

Although one of McDonald’s key target markets is children, there’s a big problem with this target market: Children don’t have any purchasing power.

In other words, it’s not the children who buy McDonald’s products — it’s the adults in their lives.

So, McDonald’s create the Happy Meal to serve their target market of children. However, they create advertisements promoting the Happy Meal aimed at their target audience of parents.

This is clearly shown in the video advertisement below.

The ad highlights things that kids aren’t interested in, but are important to parents: Such as “no artificial colors, flavorings, or preservatives,” and charitable donations.

What do kids care most about?

The toy, of course! But this gets only a scant mention near the end of the video.

When it comes to Happy Meals, children might be McDonald’s target market, but they’re clearly not the target audience.

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