The target group is the focus of all communication measures and integral to the success of companies. But defining the target group is by no means the end of it! To ensure they are really addressing the selected customers, companies need to understand the people behind the target group. But what does understanding your target group actually mean?
Target groups are normally divided into different segments with different characteristics. They differ in terms of where they live, their age, income and buying patterns. But a target group is more than just demographic data, it also includes much more complex and interesting attributes such as interests and psychological drivers. With the help of media data (e.g. traditional media and social media), target groups can be analysed in depth to identify these attributes
Defining a target group involves producing a strategic outline of the target group to be reached. However, understanding a target group focuses on how the target group behaves, what moves them and what they are interested in. So the expression “understanding your target group” is much more about the behaviour of target groups than about demographic characteristics.
The assignment of behaviours is not based on the traditional segmentation of target groups based on psychographic characteristics; the approach is more a question of user types which cluster target groups based on their behaviour and their values.
So if you want to really understand your target group, you need to identify their psychological motivation. It is less about the personality, more about the psychological drivers guiding the individual. For example, one person could be interested in vegan food products because vegan diets are very on-trend at the moment, while another could buy vegan products based on their own inner conviction or environmental concerns.
Both people come to the same product for different reasons. The different psychological drivers produce clusters of different user types or target groups. But they are categorised by their different mindsets, not by their age or where they live. This means a person’s age or where they come from is not of primary relevance, the reasons or psychological drivers behind their behaviour are more important.
Companies often have a blind spot when it comes to their target group. Even if you have carefully defined your target group based on internal (from Google Analytics, CRM reports, surveys, etc.) or external data (studies, market research or online tools), you may be missing important behavioural patterns or areas of interest.
It is important to keep an open mind and not let your understanding of your core target group gather dust. It may be that trends and behavioural patterns are developing within your target group which are not even on your radar. Cross-media monitoring including social listening or social media analysis is an excellent way of covering this blind spot.
Clean social listening requires time and an in-depth analysis of the available data. This kind of data deep-dive is best undertaken with the support of experts who deal with data on a professional basis and know what it means in detail for the target group.
In order to appeal to their target group accurately, companies must produce target-oriented content that the target group can identify with. But, in order to do this, you first need to know what subjects interest them.
A social media analysis is really useful in terms of sounding out the behaviour of the target group. It identifies the target group’s areas of interest, subjects and thinking patterns.
Social media analyses can also identify demographic aspects, but they tend to be on a broader, more global level. In principle, a social media analysis reveals the subjects the target group is interested in, how they react to these subjects and what the latest trends are. In turn, companies can use this information not only for product development, but also for product design and market positioning.