Why is defining a Target Audience critical for a brand?

In our interactions with thousands of marketing aspirants each year, one of the most commonly asked questions is, “Why can’t I go after everyone? What is the point of targeting?” In this article, we cover the following -
Here is a video which captures the answer to all these questions:
In case, you’re more the reading kinds, we have summed it up here as well:
  • Section 1: Is targeting critical for your brand?

We truly believe that this is one of the most important realizations that anyone who aspires to be in marketing can have at an initial stage of their infatuation with the subject. Yes, targeting is critical. To put this in another words, ignoring a large part of your own consumer universe is critical. Let us take an example of one of the biggest cola brands in India. Thums Up is many decades old. A lot of things - campaigns, brand endorsers, etc. have changed about it, but what has remained unchanged is the Target Audience that the campaigns speak to. This Target Audience is Adventurous and Macho Image Seeking Teenagers. This includes those people who are not necessarily adventure seeking themselves but aspire to have that image. So now let us ask the Million Dollar Question: What percentage of actual Thums Up customers are adventurous and macho image seeking teens? Let's examine this!
  1. Because we are talking about macho image seeking teens, we are only talking about men. So that rules out all the women, which is about 50% of the entire population.
  2. Because we are talking about teens, that rules out both children and adults, which is another
  3. And lastly, among male teens we only want macho image seeking ones, that rules out all the other teens who might be seeking other images for themselves, say the nerds, the romantics, etc.
Delighting target audience
What is important to note is that a lot of women consume Thums Up. So do a lot adults and non-macho image seeking teens. They are all consumers of Thums Up.
Ruling all of these out, means that we are left with approximately 15-20% of all the people who consume Thums Up.
So why does Thums Up continue to ignore in its ads almost 80% of their consumers, year after year after year? This is the now a Billion Dollar Question.
The reason is that when you are up against competitors such as, Pepsi, Coke, Sprite and all of these high spending cola brands, your only chance of survival is when you're truly differentiated as a brand.
And to be differentiated you cannot be all things to all people.
Just think for a while about how you behave with your best friend or with your love interest. What if you start behaving in the exact same way with every person that you meet, would you be able to have a close intimate relationship with your best friend or your love interest anymore? Nope.
In the same way, a brand has to choose who does it want to create a close intimate relationship with. If a brand tries to be for everyone, then it will end up being for no one. That is why a Target Audience exists.
Hence a brand’s optimal strategy should be to choose a set of consumers which you can call your Target Audience. A particular set that you're not only going to attempt to satisfy but go ahead and absolutely delight them with your product, your brand, your communication. Even your packaging or the tonality of your social media posts are dictated by this very Target Audience.
target audience
Extra Gyaan: Marketers also create a very specific consumer portrait out of their Target Audience which they call the SuperConsumer. This is the exercise of almost visualizing your Target Audience by giving them a name, an occupation, a face, etc. It helps brands choose Brand Ambassadors and also create communication keeping an almost real person in mind rather just a rough idea of a target audience. The SuperConsumer is often an image of the lead that marketers cast in their advertisements.
Now the rest of your consumers who are still your consumers need to be satisfied as well. In the case of Thums Up, satisfaction could mean, offering a good tasting product at a reasonable price, which is well distributed so that it is in consumers' reach.
  • Section 2: How ThumsUp has chosen its target audience?

So the next interesting question that you as a brand need to answer is, which set of consumers are you going to call your SuperConsumers and try to delight? Well that decision is a function of your users, the product you're selling and the category in which you exist as a brand.*
In the case of Thums Up, since food tastes are developed in the early part of a person's life, most food brands like Thums Up, need to target either kids or teenagers, or target the parents of these children such that they have an early entry into a person's life.
Let's say, a teenager named Kartik who is 15 years old, sees a Thums Up ad, becomes interested in the brand and decides to start consuming Thums Up.
Now 15 years later, Kartik is married and setting up his own household.
Kartik loves Thums Up but his wife likes to consume another cola brand.
Which brand do you think is going to come into the household?
Are they going to buy both the brands or just one ?
Superconsumer or target audience
You can imagine, over a period of time, their choices are likely to come down to one specific brand which is going to be their most frequently bought brand. And that brand will belong to the person who's most unreasonably loyal to his/her own brand choice, who's simply intransigent, who refuses to consume any other brand than that of his/her own choice.
So if Kartik's love for Thums Up trumps his wife's love for another brand, over a period of time, you will find that, Thums Up comes more into their household.
Since Thums Up comes more into their household their children are more likely to start consuming Thums Up and that is how the brand will continue to do well.
Superconsumer or target audience
That is the reason, when expert brand builders launch campaigns, they ignore the larger chunk of their customers. They don’t want to just add up a little bit of delta into their lives. What they tend to do is pick a sharper communication audience and go ahead to delight them with their campaign.
  • Section 3: What is the difference between communication target audience & media target audience?

The final point to remember here is the distinction between the communication target audience and the media target audience.
Till now, what we have discussed is essentially the audience you need to keep in mind while creating the ads and other communication, so that your brand has a coherent and consistent voice which really delights that audience. This audience is the Communication Target Audience.
However, when you have created your ad and are now trying to determine who is going to see your ads through your different media options like TV, radio, Facebook ads, Youtube ads, etc., you go for a much wider targeting. You speak to a much larger group rather than just the 15-20% of your consumer universe.
This is called the Media Target Audience.
It is important that our Media Target Audience is bigger and we don’t just show our ads to Macho Image Seeking teens. Otherwise 30 years old Kartik who loves Thums Up, might forget to stock his fridge in summers and be made to settle with another brand.
Communication vs media target audience
Therefore, when you’re defining your media audience on platforms like, Facebook, Google or on the conventional media channels, the media targeting is very wide and you need to go after large sets of audiences but when you’re creating an ad campaign you’re forced to be very selective.
* Choosing your SuperConsumer is a decision which being so critical for the brand’s future, is taken after a series of steps called STP (Segmentation, Targeting & Positioning). In this article, we will not go into STP as the objective of this article is not how to find your Target Audience. The objective is to find out why is defining a Target Audience important. If you want us to learn more about how to choose your Target Audience, try considering one of our flagship Marketing programs: Brand Building or Digital Brand Building for current students, and Professional Brand Management in digital age for Working Professionals. You can also continue to access high quality content on the Kraftshala App
This article was conceptualized by Varun Satia, Founder & CEO and Eshu Sharma , Co-founder & Head of Student Experience and was edited by Priya Tomar , Content Marketing Intern at Kraftshala