In general terms, an intended audience refers to a group of people one anticipates will receive their “consumable” item. For example, the intended audience of Saturday morning cartoons is young, school-aged children.
The group of people considered your intended audience may fit into a clear category based on race, age, gender, income, location, or interests, or another distinguishing factor that aligns with the product on offer.
Intended audiences can be understood in terms of advertising and literature, with slight variations of purpose between the two:
- Intended audiences in advertising indicate the target consumer for a specific product or service.
- Intended audiences in literature refers to the demographic that a writer or media producer expects to interact with their writing, whether it be books, articles, or short stories.
Below, we will be looking at intended audiences as they pertain to both advertising and literature.
Intended Audience Examples
- Subcultures: folks within this target audience are granular, in that they are people who identify with a specific group. For instance, surfers, snowboarders, and skateboarders would be considered a subculture that identify with specific genres of music like alternative rock instead of, say, pop music.
- Cold audiences: this refers to people who are not privy to or familiar with a business prior to stumbling across them by happenstance. That is, they are people who often indirectly come across a product or service when looking for ways to solve a problem or fill a need.
- Warm Audiences: conversely, warm audiences refer to audiences who are familiar with a business and understand what products or services are offered. They have had touchpoints and interactions with the business, but they haven’t shown interest in buying a product or service.
- Fans: as the name would suggest, fans are folks that are well-versed and familiar with a business, understand the products and/or services that are offered, buy into them regularly, and share their interest and loyalty with other potential consumers in very outright and specific ways.
- Customers: those that fall within this intended audience, similar to fans, are familiar with a product/service and consume it regularly. The slight difference is the goal for marketing to this audience: while fans have a degree of loyalty that has been established, the aim with this audience is to upsell them similar products/services to improve the customer lifetime value (i.e. convert them to fans).
- Young adults: the readership for this intended audience falls under the early tween and teenager demographic, that is readers falling between the ages of 12 and 18. Oftentimes the narrative used in Young Adult (YA) fiction revolves around coming-of-age stories that embody a universal experience.
- Academics: peer-reviewed content and scientific journaling with rigid academic styles (like APA or MLA) would be content desired by this target audience. In order to have legitimacy in the academic world, articles need to have substantial sources that back their claims and have peer-reviewed content across all areas of study.
- University Students: The intended audience of this website, The Helpful Professor, is university students! The website is to help university students get basic information they need for their studies.
- Adults: this audience is typically 30 years and older, making the style and storytelling approach more complex and mature in nature.
- New Adults: nestled between the YA and Adult intended audiences, New Adults are considered readers between the ages of 18 and 30. Themes present for this audience reflect common early adulthood experiences such as love, careers, and establishing in life.
- Children: often the category of audience with the widest range of writing styles, this would appeal to readers under the age of twelve.
- LGBT: Increasingly, niche goods and services for LGBT people are emerging, partially because they’re known to be a subculture with high net worth and disposable income.
- Ideological groups: With the rise of social media and liberalization of media laws, news outlets have increasingly had ideological biases in order to attract a loyal audience that agrees with their worldview.
- Women: Go into a mall and you will notice that women are a significant intended audience for many clothing stores.
- Men: Watch the advertisements during sporting games and you will notice they are mostly targeting men – for example, you might see a lot of advertisements for sports cars and trucks.
Case Studies of Intended Audiences
1. Young Adult – Literature
The book series Twilight is a perfect example of writing that was developed with a young adult intended audience.
It portrays high school kids, a blossoming romance, who are coming of age in their own respects.
The young adult intended audience, although directed at those of the 12 to 18 age category, often has an appeal to those who are both older and younger as well.
This is likely due to the shared experience of “coming of age” that everyone will experience, and a common desire of children to want to act “older.”
2. Fans – Advertising
Fans are the easiest intended audience to deal with when advertising for a product or service.
They are the loyal consumers who are loyal to a brand and want to be part of the success of said product or service.
A good example when thinking of fans as an intended audience are folks who follow sports teams.
Regardless of how their favourite team may perform in a given season, fans are the loyal customers that continue to purchase merchandise, pay to watch their team play, and are constantly spreading the word of the joy they feel in relation to this specific brand.
3. Adults – Literature
With the Adult intended audience, themes such as reflection and introspective growth are common, as it is meant to appeal to those with more worldly life experiences.
The assumption is that over the age of 30, one has had ample time to participate in and observe a variety of experiences.
Literature within this category is often more mature in language, in that it utilizes complex words and mature dialogue in order to keep the intended audience engaged and appear relatable.
Although each genre can have a gray area of who will be engaging with the content, more prominently New Adults and Young Adults genres, the Adult genre is very much directed to those seeking to be challenged in their reading both with content and mentally.
4. Warm Audiences – Advertising
Putting yourself in the shoes of an advertiser, warm audiences are considered people who are familiar with your brand.
As a type of intended audience, they are people who have had some form of interaction with your brand’s products and/or services but have not yet become fans or consistent buyers.
The goal for the advertiser with this target audience is to convert folks from observers to paying customers. This is best accomplished by segmenting this audience into sub-categories before directly targeting them with specific campaigns to encourage their conversion.
When segregated and approached with more direct campaigns, this may help consumers feel they are being spoken to directly, encouraging them to buy-into a brand.
5. Children – Literature
The Child genre of intended audience, similar to Adults, comprises a wide range of writing styles targeting people of a certain age – children!
Although it is intended for those 12 years of age and under, the Child audience also encompasses kindergarten books, which seems pretty distant from that of the content an average 12-year-old would be pursuing for entertainment (i.e. this would include picture books with interactive elements and simplistic language).
This is perhaps why we see a crossover and large interest in Young Adult books for both the fringe Child and New Adult age ranges, as the content in this genre may be more appealing than content directed at the mean age within these other two intended audiences.
Learning how to identify one’s intended audience is key for the success of a campaign and in strategizing to produce effective content. It’s important to take into consideration the variables of intended audiences, and make a strong case for the production of advertising and/or writing directed at a specific group of people.
Failing to understand one’s intended audience is likely to result in producing mediocre content that isn’t as far-reaching or as impactful as the creator may have anticipated. Establishing your purpose of writing, conducting an audience analysis, and reviewing competitors’ content are all key ways to identify one’s intended audience.