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As mass marketing’s appeal begins to fade, it is being replaced by target marketing. Target marketing means knowing as much as possible about your current and potential customers and reaching them through very specialized advertising or marketing campaigns. 

The first question to ask when using target marketing is: Is a product to be sold to a household or an individual? Products such as refrigerators, stoves and dinette sets are sold to a household (a household might need one of such products), while products such as shoes and toothbrushes are sold to individuals (each individual who lives in a household needs those products).

Households can be broken down as “family” households and “nonfamily” households. The younger the person, the more likely they are to live in a nonfamily household (such as with a roommate or significant other). Once that question has been answered, a company can use demographics to compile a “customer profile” of their target audience. Factors that should be considered in the profile include:


In general, income tends to increase with age as people obtain better-paying jobs and receive promotions. Married couples often have a higher income as both couples are working. Income is defined as all money and public assistance that is earned before taxes and union dues are taken out. Personal income is money plus noncash benefits such as food stamp. Disposable income is the money that is left after taxes are taken out, and discretionary income is the amount of money left after taxes are paid and necessities such as food and shelter are paid for. It is often this last type of income that marketers are most interested in.

Education level

This is an increasingly important factor as technology becomes more important to day-to-day living. Generally, the more education a person has, the greater the income they earn, thus the more money they have to purchase products. Education is most often measured by level of schooling completed. As a rule of thumb, college-educated people are among the most desirable consumer groups, but studies show that they also tend to be the least brand loyal. This means a business may have to work harder to reach and keep those customers.

Other important demographic factors include age, sex, geographic location, occupation, size of family, and ages of the children in the family unit. In addition, analysis of these demographic characteristics is often undertaken in conjunction with so-called lifestyle factors. Studies of these factors can be very helpful in shaping marketing campaigns and other business efforts because analysis indicates a high correlation between certain lifestyle characteristics and their buying patterns. Key lifestyle attributes include the following: 

  • Cultural background
  • Religious background and beliefs
  • Values
  • Political convictions
  • Hobbies/Recreational activities
  • Reading Preferences
  • Entertainment Preferences (television viewing, movie-going, etc.)
  • Eating habits
  • Traveling/vacation preferences

This examination of the less tangible aspects of the consumer market is also sometimes known as psychographics. The data contained in both cluster systems and lifestyle/psychographic surveys must be considered to develop a truly accurate customer profile. 

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Bernard Taiwo
I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.