In the realm of social research, the target market  is the group of people with whom you wish to conduct your research.

It is important to define your target market early on in the research planning process as it plays a critical role in developing the methodology and designing an appropriate research tool.

Before you can define your target market, you have to develop a clear set of objectives for the research:

  • What are you trying to achieve with the research? You may be seeking to understand the community so that you can better design communication tools,  or test your performance with your customers, or find out what your community wants from your organisation so that you can then deliver it.
  • What sort of results will be useful to you? It can help to come up with some ideas of the type of information you would like to get out of the research and how this will be useful to you.
  • What will you do with the results? Will they be integrated into planning, used to design communications, help you to improve future programs, or something else?

Once you have defined the objectives for the project, you can work out who you need to talk to in order to fulfil these objectives.

Target markets vary significantly depending on the purpose of the project. For program evaluations or customer satisfaction monitoring it may be a relatively small market of people with whom your organisation has directly interacted; for service planning it may be a particular segment of the community; or sometimes, it may be the entire community.

Target markets can be based on a wide range of variables, and indeed may involve a combination of multiple types of variables:

  • Demographic (age, gender, cultural background, education, work status, income, household structure)
  • Geographic (where they live, where they work)
  • Behavioural (actions they take or don’t take, or even consumer behaviour)
  • Psychological (attitudes, values and perceptions)
  • Physical/medical

Some items to consider when defining your target market are as follows:

  • Who directly interacts with your organisation?
  • Who makes use of your products or services?
  • Are there policies or guidelines that determine who should be consulted?

And remember, your target market may be more widespread than you realise!

If you need some help with defining target markets please contact us.