Marketing targeting: definition, methods, examples [Guide 2022]

Marketing targeting

Marketing targeting aims to identify the most promising market segments for the company. It must be carried out before the launch of a new product/service. It requires dividing your market into targets or segments, depending on customer needs. Targeting will therefore depend on the marketing strategy (declined in the form of a marketing mix). Marketing targeting involves carrying out one or more preliminary studies to understand current and future needs.

Finally, note that marketing targeting can occur at different times in the life of the company:

The objective of marketing targeting is to focus the company’s resources on the most promising specific market segment(s):

  • Segment most likely to buy your product or service.
  • segment(s) that bring(s) the most to the company

There are therefore two components to take into account when carrying out marketing targeting:

  • segment size
  • segment profitability

By defining your target market in advance, you can tailor your products and ensure that your investments (in advertising, for example) will be focused on the people you really have a chance to pitch the idea of ghostwriting services selling to. Marketing targeting will therefore impact the implementation of your marketing mix (see our complete guide on the subject here)?

When to carry out marketing targeting?

It would be wrong to think that marketing targeting should only be carried out when the company is launched. It is in fact at each product launch that this exercise should be done, even after the launch.

If you’re not meeting your sales and growth goals, it’s a good idea to check whether you’re selling and marketing your products or services to the right people and in the right way. You might also find that your current customers are not the ones you are trying to target. If you can effectively cover both niches with the same message, you may have gone too far in your market.

Marketing targeting must be placed in a broader context in order to fully understand its meaning. It is only one step in the marketing cycle. The term “cycle” is important because it implies that the process is continuous. Too many companies think of these activities as an end in themselves. Remember that needs change, competition evolves, and customer behavior adapts. No matter how good your product or service is, you need to ask yourself essential questions at regular intervals.

Now let’s come to this marketing cycle and targeting. As we explained above, marketing targeting consists of choosing the most promising customer segments. This therefore implies that you have:

  • understood the needs
  • aggregate these needs into segments
  • Collected data on these segments.

Logically, the marketing cycle will therefore begin with a market study where the use of qualitative techniques will be particularly useful to you. These techniques are indeed adapted to get to the bottom of current needs and anticipate those to come. To find out more, we refer you to our guide.

Once the needs have been analyzed, you can quantitatively confirm (panel survey) the importance of the needs in the eyes of the respondents. Thanks to control variables (socio-demographic for example), you will open the doors to a first segmentation.

It is commonly accepted that 3 types of marketing targeting are possible. They give rise to 3 types of marketing strategies:

  • mass marketing when there is no targeting
  • segmented marketing when the company targets several segments with its range of products or services
  • differentiated marketing when the company targets only one segment

Mass marketing

Mass marketing aims to reach any type of customer through maximum exposure of the product. Mass marketing is not necessarily the prerogative of low-end positioning. With its iPhone, Apple is clearly on mass marketing and yet it is a high-end product.

Examples of mass marketing: Aldi and Lidl, Google Analytics, social networks, linear television channels.

Segmented marketing

Segmented marketing involves the company offering products for multiple consumer segments. These companies therefore have a range of products/services likely to attract different types of customers.

Examples of segmented marketing: car manufacturers, Disney.

Differentiated marketing

Differentiated marketing is typical of a strategy that targets only one customer segment. This type of targeting is actually much more common than you might think, especially in B2B.

Luxury brands inherently embrace differentiated marketing. They only target consumers with high purchasing power. Segmentation is effected by belonging to higher socio-professional categories.

However, some nuances must be made. Certain companies active in the luxury sector have introduced less expensive products into their ranges precisely in order to attract less fortunate buyers who aspire to own luxury items.

Examples of differentiated marketing: Louis Vuitton, Ferrari, Parlor (ultra-right social network in the United States), daily newspapers generally having a political “color” which makes them address a segment of readers.

Hyper-personalization, the ultimate outcome of marketing targeting?

We often talk about a 4th type of marketing: hyper-personalization. The principle is to offer different marketing for each client. There is therefore no longer a segment strictly speaking. Marketing is adapted to the level of the individual and more to the level of the group.

Hyper-personalization ultimately raises the question of a paradigm shift: that of moving from deterministic marketing to individualized marketing.

Artificial intelligence has long been seen as the key to achieving this goal. The reality, however, turned out to be different from the theory:

  • data was not available in sufficient quantity to predict customer needs
  • the quality of the data was insufficient to arrive at a correct modeling of the behaviors
  • it was technically impossible to produce individualized algorithmic recommendations

In fact, even the most efficient algorithms (notably that of Netflix) produce recommendations on the scale of groups of individuals. Hyper-personalized marketing targeting will therefore remain a dream for many years to come.


We distinguish 2 stages prior to marketing targeting:

  • Analysis of the interests and needs of potential customers
  • Market segmentation based on these interests and needs.

Analyze of needs

Understanding the needs of Medical Ghostwriting Services and prospects is a complicated task. Achieving this requires techniques that fall under market research (see our 7-step methodology here).

In order to properly identify current and future needs, we recommend the use of so-called qualitative methods. Individual interviews and focus groups are the main techniques. For an overview of the pros and cons of each method, check out this article.

If you opt for individual interviews, one of the problems you will face will be determining the number of interviews necessary. To achieve this, go to this page where you will find an interactive calculator that will give you an immediate answer.


Segments allow you to divide your customers into homogeneous units, that is to say, which have the same “profile”.

There are many ways to segment a market:

  • Socio-demographic segmentation: this is the best-known segmentation. It hypothesizes that the socio-demographic profile determines the desires, needs and purchases of customers, which may be true up to a certain point. Segmentation can be done according to age, gender, location, income, socio-professional category or a combination of several of these factors.
  • Segmentation according to needs: this type of segmentation is much finer. However, it requires having analyzed the needs in depth and being able to aggregate them. To achieve this type of segmentation, you will absolutely have to go through a qualitative study.

The segmentation exercise sometimes ends with the creation of personas. Personas are imaginary figures that represent an example of a customer within each segment. Targeting?

Marketing targeting is not an end in itself. It must be for something. That something is the conquest of the market. To achieve this you will need to:

  • define a positioning for each segment
  • activate selected segments

Define a positioning

For each targeted segment, you will potentially have to adapt your positioning. For the same product/service, motivations may vary from one segment to another. The competitive landscape is potentially also different. Some competitors may only be present in one segment.

Positioning will therefore vary from one segment to another and will influence your marketing mix. Learn all about the marketing mix.

Activate selected segments

Finally, you will need to activate the segments. There are 2 main approaches:

  • inbound marketing : SEO, word of mouth
  • outbound marketing : SEA, advertising, email marketing

The most suitable approach will have to be chosen according to the characteristics of the segment.

Tools and techniques to achieve marketing targeting

Targeting marketing can get tricky if you offer a mass product or service or have a very diverse customer base. Target markets can also be influenced by factors such as buying cycles, product shelf life, and other factors that may not be considered by people interested in what you are selling.

Targeting a particular market doesn’t mean excluding people who don’t fit your criteria. For example, if you’re in B2B marketing, you might consider segmenting based on the size of your target customers.

To choose the right segment(s), you will find in the table below essential criteria to take into account, the questions to ask yourself and the tools to use.

Case studies

Marketing targeting example 1: Netflix

The content offered by Netflix is ​​supposed to meet the expectations of the greatest number. The target market is therefore as wide as possible. The content is therefore not segmenting and we can say that Netflix is ​​a company that aims for the “mass-market”.

In order to increase customer loyalty, The Tiny Tech marketing targeting is expressed on the platform itself through recommendation algorithms. Algorithms make it possible to target users almost individually by recommending content adapted to their tastes. Each subscriber therefore has the impression that the recommended content is recommended only for him.

Marketing targeting example 2: supermarkets

Marketing targeting is expressed in several ways in a supermarket. In the physical store it there is no real targeting since a priori a supermarket is aimed at everyone.

Everything changes when it comes to attracting the customer to the store. Retailers then deploy techniques that allow them to segment customers before stimulating them through different channels. For example, personalized promotions, which are undoubtedly among the most complicated marketing targeting operations to carry out. In fact, you need:

  • segment your customer base
  • use an algorithm to recommend the right products to the right micro-segment
  • print promotional vouchers
  • send

And all this within very short deadlines and at regular intervals to build customer loyalty.

Marketing targeting example 3: Disney

The Walt Disney Company is attached in the collective imagination to the creation of content for young children. It was indeed his specialty originally but it has since greatly expanded. It has moved from differentiated marketing (children) to segmented marketing. Indeed, The Walt Disney Company is a group in which several production studios are integrated. Pixar was acquired in 2006, Marvel in 2009, Lucas film in October 2012.

Pixar’s animated films appeal to a wider audience than just children, much like the Marvel franchise. Lucas Film productions also attract a largely adult audience since the majority of Star Wars fans are between 18 and 44 years old.

Marketing targeting example 4: Cognac

Cognac is a very interesting case study in terms of segmentation and targeting. Originally a niche product reserved for an aging client (differentiated marketing), it became, under the impetus of American rappers, a product aimed at a broader target (segmented marketing).

It was in the early 2000s that Bust Rhymes completed making cognac an ultra-popular product in the United States with his clip “Pass the Courvoisier” (Courvoisier is a well-known brand of cognac). In 2016-2017, the United States represented 78.7% of the cognac market.

Targeting is an important step in the marketing cycle. It marks the beginning of concrete actions that will aim to project the product/service on one or more specific market segments. The marketing mix will therefore depend on this targeting, as will ultimately the operational marketing actions.

Choosing the right segments to focus on is ultimately a key success factor for the company.

About the Author: mickyaron

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