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How to Research Your Target Customer: Home

Types of Customer Research:

Primary Research

  • Interviews with customers, business owners
  • Questionnaires or online surveys
  • Observing other businesses and customers
  • Competitors’ websites and social media
  • Customer review sites like YELP!
  • Work or volunteer experience in the industry

Secondary Research Resources

  • Government Data: e.g. U.S. Census
  • Library Databases
  • Articles
  • Industry Reports

What are target customers?


When you start a business, you have a vision of what your product or service is going to be, but it is also important to ask yourself, “Who is going to want to pay for this?” Demographic factors, such as age, gender, and income, and lifestyle choices, such as eating local or organic food, determine what types of products and services a person is willing to spend money on. Next time you walk in to a coffee shop, like the one pictured below, take a look around. Are the other customers similar in age? Do the other customers have a similar sense of style? Every business has a set of "target customers" that are more likely to be interested in its products or services, and it is important to understand their preferences and motivations when setting up your business.


coffee shop


What will identifying my target customers do for me?

  1. Identifying your target customers will allow you to locate your customers. Your business will be much more likely to succeed if you locate it close to where your target customers live. 

  2. Once you construct the profile of your target customer, you will be able to adjust your market strategy to their motivations and preferences. For example, the menu, the pricing, and the "look and feel" of the coffee shop above were designed to attract the people that they identified as their target customers.

  3. Identifying your target customers will also make it easier for you to determine where to market your product or service. Marketing can be expensive and time consuming, and you don’t want your marketing campaign to spread your business too thin. If you know your target customers, you will be able to choose which marketing outlets will work best for your product or service.

Market Research Class Presentations

The slides from the "Researching Your Customer" presentation from our latest Market Research Class series are an excellent resource if you are just getting started.


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