When I was a child, I really wanted an Easy Bake Oven. Every time I saw a commercial for one, I was glued to the TV, marveling at the kids on the screen baking mini treats with their friends and parents. Seeing those ads, I knew they were made just for me.
In reality, though, the main — or primary — audience was my parents. I was the secondary audience.
As a child, I had no buying power, so I wasn't going to be a good Easy Bake Oven consumer. I was the secondary audience for toy commercials. My parents, with the power to make purchase decisions, were ultimately the primary audience.
If you're thinking: "But wait, aren't primary audiences the customer to whom you're marketing? If that's the case, why wouldn't toy commercials be for kids?" I hear you. And you're right.
Secondary audiences are sometimes just as important to consider in your overall marketing strategy. If the toy manufacturers didn't consider secondary audiences, for instance, I probably never would've gotten an Easy Bake Oven for my birthday.
Here, let's explore why secondary audiences matter, as well as a few examples of secondary audiences.
Secondary audiences, explained.
Primary audiences and secondary audiences are both of major importance. If parents or caregivers aren't convinced a toy seen in a commercial is a useful product, the toy isn't going to be purchased.
The person with the buying power and influence to make purchase decisions will always make up the primary audience.
So, what makes up a secondary audience?
What is a secondary audience?
A secondary audience is comprised of people who aren't the most likely to buy a product or service, but are still the second-most important. It's crucial to market to secondary audiences because they are either a user of your product, or they'll become a user of your product. Additionally, they can influence the primary audience into purchasing a product or service.
Think about secondary audiences in the context of a toy commercial: if a child begs for a new toy, the parent or caregiver may be convinced to eventually buy the toy — which is why convincing a secondary audience to be on board with your product or service can be just as important as convincing the primary audience.
Let's go over another example of a secondary audience, next.
Examples of a Secondary Audience
The holiday season is a prime example to consider when thinking about marketing to secondary audiences.
How do you shop for loved ones when gift-giving? You usually ask them what they want and go from there, right?
In this scenario, the loved one is the secondary audience, and you are the primary one. This is because you are making a purchasing decision on behalf of the person influenced to own the product.
Holiday ads with copy similar to "Great as a gift!" or "Perfect for that special someone!" are most likely marketing towards a secondary audience rather than a primary one.
Amazon even took it one step further and used the holiday to segment secondary audiences:
Amazon choosing to market to their secondary audiences in a segmented fashion shows an effort to personalize messages to the masses. Remember, secondary audiences, in some cases, begin the buyer's journey for the primary audience. So, Amazon decided to make that journey easier.
Marketing to secondary audiences, then, is just as important as marketing to primary audiences. Primary audiences have the means in the decision-making process, and secondary audiences are customers who can influence that decision-making.
Businesses that can market to both audiences effectively have a better chance of boosting overall sales. Let's distinguish between the two groups a little more, next.
Primary vs. Secondary Audience
A primary audience is a segmented group of people a business chooses to focus on for marketing efforts. They have the buying power and ability to make purchase decisions. Secondary audiences can influence the buying power of the primary audience and should be thought about in marketing efforts for this reason.
Let's say a business's decision-makers were thinking about investing in a content management system to streamline the processes of the company, and asked their staff to present recommendations. In this scenario, the primary audience would be the decision-makers, and the secondary audience would be the staff.
An individual contributor who must convince their manager to purchase a specific software doesn't have purchasing power, which means they're not the primary audience. This person has influential power, so they're a secondary audience.
Distinguishing primary and secondary audiences needs to happen to correctly market to both of them. Depending on the product, these audiences can influence the buying decisions of one another. Ultimately, marketing to secondary audiences can be incredibly beneficial in boosting overall revenue.
Originally published Feb 20, 2020 4:00:00 AM, updated April 15 2021