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3 Core Actions to Understand Your Target Consumer 


3 Core Actions to Understand Your Target Consumer 


Step up your marketing game with a review of your target market. James Black shares the first in a series of columns developed for AlleyWatch to guide startups and small and medium-sized businesses on best-in-class marketing principles. In this article, he identifies 3 key steps you can take to understand your target consumer.

Understanding the target customer is an area that big consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies will invest a lot of market research in, sometimes to the point of analysis paralysis.  Meanwhile, start-ups might operate with a simple target customer definition in their business plans and underinvest in truly understanding the target, which can lead to misplaced marketing investments and/or missed sales.  Here I’ve called out 3 opportunities to help start-ups strike a happy medium by learning from common CPG approaches.

1) How Do I Define the Target Consumer for my Business? Doing some up-front understanding of the target consumer is critical for focusing a startup’s efforts.  Strong understanding of consumers’ needs can not only help prioritize what to do (and not do) but also what to invest in (and not).

Questions to Ask:

What is the end benefit the customer is seeking?

How does our offering fit with his/her desired benefit? Are there gaps we need to address in our offering?

What are his/her unmet needs vs. current offerings? Can we fulfil them?

Tools to Use:

Desk research (i.e., secondary research): gather insights from existing research or external studies (e.g., from market research firms or trade publications) to strengthen your consumer profile.

Qualitative primary research: conduct exploratory research with individuals, one on one or in small groups (e.g., focus groups) to understand underlying reasons, opinions and motivations for why they feel the way they do. Can help shape ideas for quantitative analysis.

Quantitative primary research: conduct a survey (e.g., via Surveymonkey or other tools) to gain a broader understanding of customer’s needs and opinions (e.g., likes/dislikes of different features, etc.). Quantitative research methods can also be used to more fully test the appeal of product concepts.


Key points include:

  • Defining the target consumer
  • Consumer awareness
  • Reaching the consumer


Read the full article, Think Big, Act Small #1. Understanding Your Target Consumer, on Linkedin.