What Is a Target Population?


Target population is synonymous with target audience or target market. The term pertains to the types of consumers businesses focus on when advertising or marketing their products or services. A target population can also be business customers. Whatever the case, the goal of using a target population is to acquire a large percentage of them as customers. New companies often study target populations of competitors to determine which people they will target. There are several factors used in establishing a target population.


  • One factor in determining a target population is usage. Companies will usually target individuals who are most likely to buy and use their products. For example, people who work out are most likely to use gyms or health spas. Remodeling companies target home owners for remodeling projects. Companies like to target individuals who will become heavy users of their products or services. That way they can establish a loyal customer base of repeat business. Companies will usually use marketing research like phone surveys to determine which types of customers are purchasing their products most often.

Size and Location

  • Companies focus on target populations that are large enough to earn substantial profits. That is why companies usually target specific markets for their products. Markets can include a section of the population that resides within a five-mile radius of a business. For example, fast food restaurants will likely target consumers closer to their units. Companies with multiple locations or branches may also target an entire city or focus their marketing efforts on a more regional or national basis.

Distinguishing Characteristics

  • Companies will also target people based on certain distinguishing characteristics, according to the Small Business Administration. Distinguishing characteristics can pertain to a number of demographic elements, including age, gender, income, family size, occupation and ethnic background. For example, a marketer of extreme sports equipment, including sky diving equipment, will likely focus on younger age segments. A high-end women's clothing retailer may focus on women between 35 and 54 with annual incomes above $75,000. Similarly, a fast food restaurant with a kid's menu will target families, while art magazine publishers would likely be interested in artists.

Personal Characteristics

  • Marketers also target consumers by their personal characteristics, including values, lifestyles and hobbies. For example, a political campaign manager may focus on those with more conservative views and values. Manufacturers of gym and tennis shoes try to appeal to people with active lifestyles -- those who run or enjoy fitness. And comic book retailers target people who read and collect comic books.


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