Depending on your industry, product or service, correctly choosing your target audience is not always easy. There are many unknowns, constant shifts in the market, faulty assumptions and many other factors that make this a tricky process. Perhaps even more difficult is changing your company’s target audience once it has been established. But several companies have successfully done this, and your business can do the same.
Why Change Your Target Audience?
It may seem odd for a business owner to suddenly decide to change her target audience. After all, if she understands what her business offers and who would most likely need what she offers, selecting a target market should be simple, right? Not so fast.
“Things that were true of a demographic 10 years ago may not be true today.”
First off, it’s very easy to make a mistake in guessing your target demographic. It’s all based on assumptions and generalizations that may not reflect reality. Secondly, there are constant changes in society that may impact the market. Things that were true of a demographic 10 years ago may not be true today. Here are some common reasons why business owners may have to change their target audience:
- Too Small: Although you are trying to narrow your audience down, you still need a large enough audience to actually be able to earn revenue.
- Too Big: Almost nothing should be offered to the entire general public. When you try to reach everyone with your marketing, you usually end up reaching no one.
- Too Hard to Convert: The target audience you select should already have a built-in need for your product or service and not require a lot of convincing.
- No Buying Power: Your target audience needs to be able to spend money on your products or services.
- Expansion: Sometimes changing your target audience has nothing to do with a mistake. New products and new services may warrant an expansion of your target market.
- New Opportunity: You could find that more people have a need for your offerings than you originally thought. When this happens, it would be smart to change your target audience to include the new demographic.
Redefining Your Target Audience
Once you’ve realized that it’s time to change up your target audience, the next step is figuring out how to do it. Your marketing includes everything about your company: your website, storefront, logo, print material, packaging, colors, fonts, etc. If you want to include new groups in your target audience, you need advertising that will resonate with new demographics. Here are some examples of big companies who have changed their target audiences:
- Nintendo: The video game giant was a staple in millions of adolescents’ homes during the 80s and 90s. But when it launched the Wii in 2007, both the PS3 and Xbox360 were extremely popular with this demographic, and to avoid competing in a crowded market, Nintendo shifted its target audience to men and women over the age of 25. The result was over 100 million consoles sold.
- NFL: For the longest time, it was assumed that professional football was something that only men were interested in. But at one point the NFL discovered that 40 percent of its viewership consisted of women. So in 2010, the NFL invested $10 million in advertising to reach women, which included branded bikinis, jerseys and other women’s clothing.
- Hershey’s: The battle for candy bar supremacy has been waged between Hershey’s and Mars for decades. To take the lead, Hershey’s expanded its demographic in the 1980s by making products specifically for adults. It continues to do so by offering low-fat chocolate options and other products that appeal to adults.
- Harley Davidson: There may be no brand that was more geared towards men that Harley Davidson. But a recent dip in sales caused the company to think outside of its normal demographic, which mostly consisted of older white males. They attempted to reach women by offering motorcycles with lower seats, hosting women-only garage parties with riding tips and creating other promotional material featuring women instead of men.
- Mountain Dew: The soda brand became popular by marketing to 18-24-year-old thrill seekers who lived in the plains states and enjoyed the outdoors. Hoping to increase revenue, Mountain Dew used a marketing push to reach more urban audiences. Their new commercials featured rapper Lil Wayne and street skateboarder Paul Rodriguez because of their appeal to urban youth.
How Can You Replicate This at Your Business?
You may not have the big bucks to spend like the above-mentioned companies, but that does not mean that you can’t expand or change your target audience. You have several different options available to you.
Packaging is one of the first things that communicates with potential customers. The way you choose to package your products sends messages to the public. It’s also part of the purchasing experience. Just think of the famous robin’s-egg blue boxes at Tiffany & Co., the apple fries in McDonald’s happy meals or all the different bottle designs for various beers, wines and spirits.
Australia recently passed a law that banned cigarette companies from placing any branding on their packs. Instead, the packs were covered with anti-smoking messages. It led to Australia’s biggest decline in smoking in 20 years.
There are so many things you can do to your packaging to have new audiences notice your products. You can personalize the experience or use eco-friendly products, stylish wrapping, fancy typography and/or many other things.
What is your logo telling people about your products or services? The colors and designs you use convey subconscious information about your brand. It conveys things like affordability, specialization and uniqueness. While it may not be a great idea to change your logo unless you are completely rebranding yourself, logo design is one way that you can reach new audiences.
If you want to target women, it would be good to include women in your advertising, which includes your website and social media. Likewise, if you want to include teenagers in your audience, you need marketing that depicts teenagers. People resonate with advertising that features people who share similar characteristics, be that gender, age, interests or anything else.