Guest Student Blog: The Importance of Identifying and Understanding Target Audience for Marketing – By HLA student Jamie Mead

Edexcel BTEC Level 4 Diploma in Marketing Communications is the very first higher-level apprenticeship qualification in digital marketing .  I am working with Cirencester College and Creative Skillset in delivering it to key South West employers.

This is a professional work-related qualification in a range of sectors and involves learning “using information about real or case study clients” that is “covered in the workplace” or using industry professionals as a guest speaker.

My student Jamie (who is a full-time Account Executive at Bray Leino following a successful apprenticeship with the company), in an interview with industry professional Alex Prebble looked “to gain an insight into the importance of identifying and understanding target audience for marketing”, which is a HLA unit outcome.

Guest blog by Jamie Mead, July 26th, 2013.

Setting the scene

Alex Prebble is an Associate Director at Market Research Agency CSR and has worked there for 8 years. I wanted to talk to Alex to find out more about her work as part of my HLA in marketing and advertising course. I was looking to gain an insight into the importance of identifying and understanding a target audience for marketing, from the perspective of a Market Research company.

CSR is one of the leading UK qualitative market research companies. Established in 1989 and based in London, they are industry acknowledged experts in their field. They are an international company with a range of blue chip clients and benefit from a large number of their projects being repeat business – this reaffirms the fact they are very highly regarded both within the industry and by their clients.

So what do CSR do in a nutshell? Alex explained, “[they] conduct qualitative research which is focussed on the ‘how’ and the ‘why’, rather than the ‘who’ and the ‘what’.” They most commonly use conventional but effective methods of conducting their research such as holding focus groups and in-depth interviews but they also utilise ground breaking methodologies and techniques which they have developed themselves over time.

Focus Groups – the Market Research agency cost effective tool

Focus groups (FGs) are a particular specialty CSR implement and are one of their most popular methods of conducting research.  Why? Well, if testing a theory or hypothesis, FGs prove to be a very accurate and cost effective method of researching an answer. They allow people to bounce their ideas off of each other, they can pick one side of an argument and it allows them to pitch the argument against people with opposing views – it’s a creative way of conducting thorough research and obtaining reliable results.

Something we briefly spoke about in the interview (this is also featured on the case studies section of their website) is another example of CSR’s ingenuity at implementing simple yet effective methods of research is how they overcame the challenge of speaking to 60 British and French women about their laundry behaviour over a 10 day period which would not be affected by time differences or interfering with their daily lives. They did so by setting up a blog which allowed the women involved to write their immediate impressions about the new product they were testing at a time that suited them and meant they didn’t need to leave the house or make arrangements around their involvement. CSR could collect their detailed responses and see them change over the 10 day period of the trial.

If you target everyone, you don’t say anything to anyone.

So why do marketeers need to target or segment an audience? In simple terms,  Alex cleverly explained: “if you target everyone, you don’t say anything to anyone”.

For me that’s really a clear way of explaining a central marketing technique – the importance of knowing your target audience. If you’re targeting everyone, you’re not really directing a message to anyone’s specific wants, needs or interests and advertising or promoting in this way can very easily get lost among the numerous messages and advertisements that consumers are exposed to on a daily basis.

By understanding your target audience, “you can grow the brand” a lot more effectively as you will be more specific and you will be sending out a targeted message to the right people – the people that you know are far more likely to respond and take action, Alex eloquently explained to me.

Lessons learnt

I found the interview with Alex really interesting and I felt I took away a good amount of information, this was both seeing things I already knew in a different light and I also learnt many interesting reasons that further confirmed to me the importance of identifying and understanding target audiences.

The interview also taught me the value that companies like CSR have to the companies that they work with – the insights, data and answers that their research provides can “build brand capital” but it can also prove a great way to attain a return on investment.

Jamie Mead, HLA student.

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