A target audience is the intended audience or readership of a publication, advertisement, or another message. In marketing and advertising, it is a particular group of consumers within the predetermined target market, identified as the targets or recipients for a particular advertisement or message. Businesses that have a wide target market will focus on a specific target audience for certain messages to send, such as The Body Shops Mother's Day advertisements, which were aimed at the children and spouses of women, rather than the whole market which would have included the women themselves.
A target audience is formed from the same factors as a target market, but it is more specific and is susceptible to influence from other factors. An example of this was the marketing of the USDA's food guide, which was intended to appeal to young people between the ages of 2 and 18. The factors they had to consider outside of the standard marketing mix included the nutritional needs of growing children, children's knowledge and attitudes regarding nutrition and other specialized details. This reduced their target market and provided a specific target audience to focus on. Common factors for target audiences may reduce the target market to specifics such as 'men aged 20–30 years old, living in Auckland, New Zealand' rather than 'men aged 20–30 years old'. However, just because a target audience is specialized doesn't mean the message being delivered will not be of interest and received by those outside the intended demographic. Failures of targeting a specific audience are also possible, and occur when information is incorrectly conveyed. Side effects such as a campaign backfire and 'demerit goods' are common consequences of a failed campaign. Demerit goods are goods with a negative social perception, and face the repercussions of their image being opposed to commonly accepted social values.
Defining the difference between a target market and a target audience comes down to the difference between marketing and advertising. In marketing, a market is targeted by business strategies, whilst advertisements and media, such as television shows, music and print media, are more effectively used to appeal to a target audience. A potential strategy to appeal to a target audience would be advertising toys during the morning children's TV programs, rather than during the evening news broadcast.
Reaching a target audience is a staged process, started by the selection of the sector of the target market. A successful appeal to a target audience requires a detailed media plan, which involves many factors in order to achieve an effective campaign.