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Finding Your Target Audience

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Here’s the thing: “Everyone” cannot be your audience.

No matter how broad an appeal your product has, it’s impossible to please everyone—and you shouldn’t try to appeal to everyone. The narrower your audience is, the more your brand will resonate with those you do attract.

Consumers are quick to embrace brands that they feel understand them—reflecting their lifestyle, speaking their language, and offering a solution to their problems. With a narrow lens on who your brand is trying to appeal to, you can pick up these nuances and understandings that ultimately turn a trial purchase into a brand loyalist. The kind of advocate who’s taking your product out of their cabinets and saying “Oh, my god. You have to try these. And look at this….”

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Save in customer acquisition costs

There’s a financial benefit to narrowing your audience at the brand level as well. Trying to introduce your product at a premium price to a large and broad audience leads to a costly acquisition strategy. (Scary words for an emerging CPG brand.) While broadly targeted ads are technically cheaper, the caveat is that only a small fraction of the overall audience will act on that ad. So, why not figure out who’s in that fraction and go for them directly, increasing your ROI and potential for repeat purchase? It’s all about quality over quantity.

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How to narrow down your audience

Getting to know your audience intimately goes beyond the marketing department. Done right, it’ll influence market expansion, product development, sales strategy, and more. Lest we forget, today’s consumers are savvy and won’t fall for empty claims or gimmicky advertising. But while they’re quick to dismiss brands whose values don’t resonate with theirs, they’re eager to seek out and talk up brands that do embody their values. Simply put: The better you can show you understand your audience, the more they’ll trust you and the quicker they’ll love you.

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  1. Do a few things well

    As a brand, there will be times when limiting your reach may feel like leaving money on the table. In an attempt to please the masses, you might offer discounts and coupons that drive trial, but rarely lead to repeat purchase, devaluing the brand perception you worked hard to shape. Instead of seeing the value in your product at your ideal set price, your potential audience will wait for the next sale instead—not a purchasing habit you want to encourage as an emerging brand.

    Whole Foods wouldn’t be Whole Foods if it started selling Doritos and low-cost produce, just because market research shows that most families are more interested in cheaper foods. Their target audience is not the value-seeking family shopper. Instead, they lean into the experiential and product quality values that their target audience prioritizes and is willing to pay a premium for.

  2. Prioritize Values Over Demographics

    While it’s a good start to finding your niche, demographics don’t give a full enough understanding of an audience’s needs, motivations, pains, and priorities. How do you go about finding this? Talk to them, observe them in their daily lives, and test your products with them. Conduct research to understand their real problems and what solutions you can offer them.

    One of our favorite examples of successful niche branding comes from a fellow Detroit-based company, Bloomscape. While anyone can become a plant-parent, Bloomscape does a great job of dialing into millennials who crave greenery and a connection with the natural world but live an urban lifestyle that demands ease and convenience. Bloomscape reflects these values through messaging, visuals, a D2C ecommerce model, friendly customer support offering personalized plant curation, and helpful plant care guides.

  3. Include Secondary Audiences

    Even with a narrow focus, it’s common (even necessary) to speak to more than one audience. These secondary audiences will be equally well-suited for your product, but because of market size, product limitations, or a desire to differentiate you aren’t building your brand or product around their needs. Marketing, however, is an entirely different ball game. Secondary audiences will continue to grow your potential size-of-prize while staying true to your shopper’s values.

    A great example of this comes from Brightz, maker of colorful lights for indoor and outdoor activities. Their primary audience at large is people who have a fun side to them and seek colorful lighting for their outdoor nighttime activities like biking. Their secondary audience is those who purchase safe and decorative lights for their kids or grandkids.

How well do you know your target audience and what drives them? How is that understanding influencing your own internal decisions? And what potential sales (trial and repeat) are you leaving on the table without this knowledge? A clear definition of who your brand is for (clearer than “everyone and anyone,” no matter the product), influences every piece of how your brand and business functions, easing the way to bigger, better growth.

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Further Reading

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