Difference Wiki

Segmentation vs. Targeting: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 18, 2023
Segmentation involves dividing a market into distinct groups based on specific criteria, while targeting focuses on selecting specific segments to direct marketing efforts.

Key Differences

Segmentation is the process of categorizing the overall market into distinct subsets based on shared characteristics or behaviors. By creating these sub-groups, businesses can gain a more detailed understanding of their potential customers. Targeting, however, comes after segmentation and entails choosing which of these sub-groups a company wishes to concentrate its marketing initiatives on, ensuring a more tailored approach.
In the realm of marketing, segmentation serves as an invaluable tool, helping businesses identify the different categories of consumers within the larger market. By acknowledging these diverse groups, companies can devise strategies tailored to each segment's unique needs and preferences. In contrast, targeting acts as the subsequent step, where a business decides which segments are most aligned with its objectives and resources, directing its marketing efforts accordingly.
Segmentation can be based on a plethora of factors, including demographic data, geographical location, buying behaviors, or psychographic elements such as values and lifestyle. This broad division allows marketers to cater to each segment's distinct needs, creating a more personalized marketing strategy. Targeting, meanwhile, zeroes in on those specific segments deemed most valuable or relevant, ensuring that marketing resources are deployed effectively and efficiently.
From a strategic perspective, segmentation provides a foundation upon which a business can build its marketing plans. By understanding the nuances of each segment, companies can devise more impactful strategies. Targeting, on the other hand, enables businesses to concentrate their efforts, ensuring that their marketing campaigns resonate with the selected segments and optimizing return on investment.
Both segmentation and targeting are instrumental in successful marketing. While segmentation offers a detailed view of the market landscape, targeting ensures that marketing campaigns are directed towards the most pertinent and promising segments.

Comparison Chart


Divides the market into distinct groups.
Focuses on specific segments for marketing efforts.

Process Stage

Initial step in understanding the market landscape.
Subsequent step, after segmentation.


Based on demographics, behavior, location, etc.
Based on potential value, alignment with objectives, etc.

Strategic Role

Provides a foundation for marketing plans.
Optimizes resource deployment and campaign resonance.


Detailed understanding of diverse customer groups.
Tailored marketing campaigns for selected segments.

Segmentation and Targeting Definitions


Segmentation involves understanding varied customer needs.
Through segmentation, the brand discerned the preferences of younger consumers.


Targeting selects segments based on potential value or alignment.
The business was targeting high-income segments with its luxury products.


Segmentation enhances the effectiveness of marketing strategies.
By using segmentation, the campaign reached its desired audience more effectively.


Targeting involves focusing marketing efforts on chosen segments.
The brand was targeting the millennial segment with its latest ad campaign.


Segmentation divides the market based on specific criteria.
Demographic segmentation divided customers by age, income, and education.


Targeting optimizes resource deployment in marketing.
Through strategic targeting, the company maximized its advertising ROI.


Segmentation is the categorization of a market into sub-groups.
The company's segmentation revealed five distinct customer categories.


Targeting ensures resonance of marketing messages.
Targeting the right audience ensured the message was well-received.


Segmentation enables a personalized marketing approach.
Segmentation allowed the company to tailor its product offerings.


Targeting follows the segmentation process in marketing.
After segmentation, the brand started targeting its most promising groups.


Division into segments.


An object, such as a padded disk with a marked surface, that is shot at to test accuracy in rifle or archery practice.


(Embryology) See cleavage.


Something aimed or fired at.


The act or an instance of dividing into segments


Why is targeting important in marketing?

Targeting ensures that marketing efforts are directed towards the most relevant and promising segments.

How does segmentation enhance marketing strategies?

Segmentation offers a detailed understanding of customer groups, allowing for tailored and effective strategies.

What criteria can be used for segmentation?

Criteria can include demographics, buying behaviors, geographical location, and psychographics.

Does targeting always guarantee marketing success?

No, targeting improves the chances of success, but other factors like execution and market dynamics also play a role.

Which comes first, segmentation or targeting?

Segmentation comes first, followed by targeting.

What is the primary goal of segmentation?

Segmentation aims to divide the market into distinct groups based on shared characteristics.

How do segmentation and targeting relate to positioning?

After segmentation and targeting, positioning ensures that a product/service is perceived distinctively in the minds of the target segment.

Can a company skip segmentation and go directly to targeting?

It's not advisable, as segmentation provides the essential insights needed for effective targeting.

Can a segment be targeted by multiple companies?

Yes, multiple companies can target the same segment, often leading to competition.

Why is it not efficient to target all market segments?

Not all segments align with a company's objectives or offer a viable ROI, making selective targeting more effective.

How do modern data analytics impact segmentation and targeting?

Advanced analytics enable deeper insights, refining segmentation and enhancing the precision of targeting efforts.

Is segmentation a one-time process?

No, markets evolve, so periodic re-segmentation can be beneficial.

How do businesses decide which segments to target?

Businesses consider potential value, alignment with objectives, resource availability, and competitive landscape.

Can targeting change over time for a company?

Yes, as business goals, market conditions, and customer preferences evolve, targeting strategies can adjust.

What's the relationship between segmentation and personalization?

Segmentation enables understanding of customer groups, which can then be used to personalize marketing efforts.

Are segmentation and targeting only relevant to businesses?

Primarily, yes. However, non-profits and other organizations can also benefit from understanding and addressing their audiences effectively.

Can segmentation be based on customer behavior?

Yes, behavioral segmentation is common, focusing on purchasing habits, brand interactions, etc.

Is geographic segmentation still relevant with online marketing?

Absolutely. Geographic segmentation can influence online ad placement, regional offers, and localization strategies.

Can targeting be based on technology usage?

Yes, technological segmentation, such as targeting based on device usage, is a growing field.

Can segmentation be too narrow or too broad?

Yes, overly specific segments may lack scalability, while overly broad ones may miss nuanced marketing opportunities.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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