What is a target audience? Guide to defining your target audience for market research

What is a target audience?

Definition: A target audience is defined as a group of people having common interests, demographics, and behavior. Market researchers need to collect feedback from the consumers of certain products and services. Collecting feedback from random people who aren’t your customers, or from those with no interest or knowledge about the subject of research will not help you solve problems. To gain valuable business insights, it is extremely crucial to target the right people for your research. Analyzing your target audience is an essential part of building your marketing strategy.

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Types of target audiences

You can define your target audience based on various attributes. Gender, age, education, income are only a few examples of segmenting your audience. For the best research results,  divide these audiences into three categories – demography, interests, and purchasing intentions.

Audience based on demography: Demographics are socio-economic factors that describe individuals. Demographic factors include attributes like age, education, geographic location, gender, income, and so on.

For example, for conducting a research study on the impact of the pandemic on young students, target students between the age of 18-24, both male and female, form counties with a population of more than 25,000.

Audience based on purchase intentions: E-commerce businesses use a lot of purchase intentions data. This is a crucial piece of information that they must possess to understand the buying intentions and interests of potential customers. 

For example, researchers group individuals based on the products they specifically look at or show interest in. This helps them target individuals to capture their feedback on the expectations of the products and services to enhance them further.

Audience based on personal interests: Interests make up an individual’s hobbies, passions, behavior, things they read about and looking for. It can be anything from movie types to music genre, to cars, books, and dance to name a few.

For example, you can offer a new action movie to action movie enthusiasts and get their feedback on different parameters you set to collect genuine feedback.

Characteristics of a target audience

Researchers must sample the right target audience to make inferences about the entire population. It is impossible to survey the whole population due to logistical concerns, budgetary limitations, and time constraints. Dividing the entire population into smaller bits and drawing inferences from them is the most scientific way of researching a large population. The quality of the research results directly depends on who your target audience is. If you get the target audience mix right, your market research will yield actionable results. 

Here are three attributes that researchers must keep in mind to create a sample from your target audience:

  1. Diversity: Always ensure the sample is diverse. Ensuring the diversity of a sample can be difficult in some cases because it is difficult to reach some portions of the population or convince them to take part in the survey. For a sample to represent the population truly, it must be diverse. A sample that fails to be diverse and representative of the entire population has serious research consequences.
  2. Transparency: The structure and the size of the population depend on various factors. Researchers must discuss these constraints to maintain a level of transparency about the sample selection procedures. Researchers must be transparent so that the survey results can be viewed with the correct perspective.
  3. Consistency: Researchers must understand the population thoroughly and must test the consistency of the sample before launching the survey fully. This is extremely crucial for research studies that monitor changes across space and time, especially where we need confidence that any variation we notice in our research data reflects a similar trend across comparable and consistent samples.

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Determining a sample size from your target audience

In research, it is impossible to survey your target audience. It is also not advisable to target everybody in your target audience. You must derive a sample from this target to make inferences of the whole population. Here are some tips to determine your sample size:

  1. Identify your research objective: First set your research goals. Know exactly what you want your research to achieve. Will the research be used to make projections about the entire population that reside in your target location? Have clarity about these areas. 
  2. Precision level: Have an expectation in mind about the precision level you want to achieve with your research. You can adjust your sample size based on the size of your population.
  3. Confidence level: Confidence level is proportional to risk. If you want your risk to be minimum, your confidence level must be high and vice versa. Choose your confidence level on the criticality of the research.
  4. Response rate: Ascertain the response rate you’re likely to receive. If your population is huge, and you expect a low response rate, increase your sample size. A small sample, especially in a diverse population will just not give you the accuracy you’re looking for.

Choose your target audience appropriately. Get it right in the first go. Avoid re researching to save time and costs. Also, with some market places evolving every day, research conducted in today’s scenario will not hold true in the foreseeable future. Try QuestionPro’s extensive audience network. With a pool of 22+ million mobile-ready and double opted survey respondents, ensure you get access to high-quality insights for accurate decision making.