Understanding Your Target Audience in Malaysia: An Essential Guide
“Everyone is my customer.” 👨👨👧👦
Have you ever had this thought before? It’s a nice fantasy to think about. 😌
In a perfect world, we want everybody to be our customer – the more people buying from us the better, right?
But in reality, making everyone your customer is unrealistic as it lacks one key marketing ingredient: focus. 🎯
If everyone is your customer, then no one is your customer.
So, the only way to generate sales and trump your competitors is through understanding your target audience.
If you’re not understanding your target audience, then you’ll be shooting blindly in the dark, hoping to hit something. 👩🦯
What Is A Target Audience?
Just to be sure we’re on the same page, here’s a quick definition.
Definition: A target audience is a group of people identified as being likely customers of a business who share the same level of education, interests, desires, and problems.
Don’t get me wrong. Defining your target audience doesn’t mean you must strictly exclude people who don’t meet your specific criteria. 📊
It’s only meant to help you focus on people who are more likely to buy from you.
If you’re really serious about hitting the right target market, you can go a step further to create a customer persona.
A customer persona helps you to segment your audience better for more accurate marketing. 🎯
If you’re wondering what is a customer persona, perhaps this quote will help.
“The persona represents a real person who lives, breathes, and who by his beliefs, his needs, his lifestyle… has a strong interest in your product.”
Bearing that in mind, you can use these common factors to create your customer persona:
- Education background
- Purchasing power
- Social class
- Consumption habits
Example of a customer persona: Jonathan Wong, man, 25 years old, living in Kuala Lumpur, with a bachelor’s degree, monthly income of RM 2,000 – RM5,000, passionate about the latest men’s fashion with European trends. 👞
Moving on, we’ll learn the importance of understanding your target audience so that you can see how it affects your decision-making in marketing.
The Importance of Understanding Your Target Audience
Understanding your target audience should be the main aim of both B2C and B2B businesses when marketing their products.
In fact, planning and strategising your commercial success should be done only after you’ve defined your target audience.
You might think that you do not need to segment your audience if you sell essential products such as instant noodles, rice, and bread. 🍞
But that’s just a myth! It’s so far from the truth – I’ll explain.
Did you know that a humble loaf of bread needs a strategic brand to compete effectively with other brands? 🤷♂️
Let’s take a look at brands like Gardenia and Massimo. How are they different from one another? What customers are they trying to attract? 🧲
Gardenia brands itself as the soft white bread that’s so good it can even be eaten on its own. On the other hand, Massimo goes for “the Italian-inspired bread” that makes a great sandwich. 🥪
As such, their target audience might differ because their branding is different.
Gardenia’s customers might be Malaysian families where bread is an optional staple food aside from rice and noodles. 🍜
Massimo’s customers may be adults who want a healthier bread that goes well with sandwiches and meals.
As you can see, every product needs a brand and a target audience. 👨👨👧👦
This short example shows the importance of understanding your target audience in Malaysia. 🇲🇾
It shows that every product needs branding to thrive in today’s competitive world. 🌎
How To Identify Your Target Audience?
Now that you’ve learned the importance of understanding your target audience, I’ll show you how you can identify who they are. This will be done in 5 steps below.
- Who are the people that identify with your brand?
A great way to find out is to monitor who follows, likes, shares, and comments on your social pages like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Youtube. 📹
Or you can use sophisticated tools like Google Analytics to gain insights on your target audience.
For example, it gives you access to your website insights which is broken down into age, gender, and location. 📍
Bear in mind that your ideal target audience may not always be found online. You could have customers who are inactive on social media, but are loyal buyers of your brand.
The correct mindset: Each time you’ve successfully sold a product to a customer, you need to think how you can get that same customer to keep coming back to buy from you.
There’s no point when your customer only just buys from you once. But if you can convert them into someone loyal, you can generate profits and keep your business afloat. 🚢
Pro tip: It’s easier and more affordable to get the same customers buying repeatedly from you, than having to target for new customers. 👨👨👧👦
- What are their greatest problems, difficulties, and desires?
The next step is to identify your audience’s pain points.
People use your products or services to make their lives better. They wouldn’t buy your product if it doesn’t solve their problem.
So, you’ll need to craft a marketing message that accurately explains how your product benefits them and solves their problems. 😌
You can do this by asking yourself: “How can I add value to their lives?” or “How can my product make their lives better?”
Let’s make this more relatable – why do some Malaysians choose to buy brown rice over white rice? 🍚
It’s because brown rice helps to solve a problem. It’s healthier than white rice and it reduces the chances of developing diabetes. That’s why diabetic patients choose brown rice over white rice.
So logically, if your business sells brown rice, your target audience would be people who want to lead healthier lives. That’s where you make your profit! 💰
When understanding your target audience, your mission as a business owner is to figure out what problem can you solve in the market.
- Where do your customers find the information they need daily?
Everyone needs information. The question is where do they find it? 🔎
Identify whether your customers are more active on:
Once you’ve narrowed down on their preferred channel, it’s your chance to swoop in and produce amazing content that’ll blast them off their feet! 🚀
Here’s what type of content or information you need to produce information for your audience: engaging, entertaining, and educational. 🤓
For example, if you’re a dentist, you could put yourself in their shoes and write about the causes of toothaches or common topics that your audience would find educational on Google.
Or you can start a Facebook page to create engaging and educational videos to attract your audience. 📢
Never think of your business as boring. There’s no such thing. There’s always a way to market a business.
Remember seeing those videos of hot young men selling durian by the street?
No one wants to see an old durian seller, cutting a durian in half.
But if you put two or three hot young men, the crowd goes wild! Who would have thought that durian selling can become SO viral?! 😱
Here’s an article to refresh your memory.
- How does your product benefit them?
People want solutions to make their life easier. So, it’s up to you to find the right group of people who need your products the most. 💪
If you’re in a highly competitive industry like FMCG, you need to find your competitive advantage to stand out from the pack.
You don’t want your customers to see you as just another FMCG brand.
To get started, you can ask yourself some practical questions like:
- What problem does your product solve?
- What needs do you meet?
Once you’ve identified how your products benefit your audience, it’s time to start selling the benefits of your products, not features.
This means you shouldn’t just state what you do, such as, “I sell men’s clothes online.” 👔
Instead, you should define what outcomes you can provide to make your customer’s lives happier or easier.
What do I mean by that? Let me give you an example.
Example 1: An iPod could store 1GB of MP3 files.
Example 2: An iPod can store 1,000 songs in your pocket.
Which of these examples do you find more compelling that will convince you to buy an iPod? 🤷♂️
Personally, Example 2 sounds more convincing. Why? It’s because it highlights the benefits of an iPod (i.e what can an iPod do for the user).
Example 2 does not only state what features an iPod has, but it further explains how those features can benefit the user’s life better, whereas Example 1 only states the features of an iPod.
Merely stating facts about your product isn’t persuasive enough to convince people to buy from you. ❌
- Who are your competitors?
Here are some questions you should ask about your competitors:
- What’s their market positioning?
- What’s their hottest product?
- What’s their USP?
- What’s their pricing?
- What are customers saying about them online?
Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, you can now decide whether you want to go after the same target audience as your competitors. 🏁
If your competitor’s target audience are extremely satisfied with your competitor’s products, it may be harder to attract them. 🧲
The reason is simple: If you’re not different from the competition, then it means you don’t have a USP to make them fall in love with your products.
However, if your competitor’s customers are unsatisfied with their current offerings, this could be your chance to shake things up and compete head on.
What is A Marketing Funnel?
Identifying your target audience is only the first half of the journey. 🏃♂️
The other half lies in creating quality content to attract these people. Marketers achieve this by using a popular tactic called content marketing.
It’s understandable that you want to hard sell your products as a business owner.
But doing that too much can drive your audience away. So, you’ll need to be strategic about this. ♟️
That’s why you need to ask yourself: “Where is my target audience in the marketing funnel? Which stage are they at?” 🤷♂️
Once you’ve asked yourself these questions then you’ll know the right type of content to create.
Don’t worry, we’ll show you how to do it. 👍
To begin with, we’ll first start by explaining what is a marketing funnel below.
Later in the article, we’ll suggest what content you should create for your audience based on the stages they’re at in the funnel.
Marketing Funnel Explained
A marketing funnel has the same functions as the funnel you have hanging in your kitchen. 🍳
You use a kitchen funnel to safely transfer liquids from one container to another. A marketing funnel works the same – to safely guide your leads into becoming your loyal customers.
The funnel has 4 stages: Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action.
To give you a better idea, here’s what a marketing funnel looks like:
In the next section, we’ll start by explaining the basics of a marketing funnel. 👍
Marketing Funnel Stages & What Content To Create For Your Audience At Each Stage
At the top of the funnel is your very first touchpoint with your leads.
It shows that your leads are still very far away from making a purchasing decision. 💰
While your leads who make it further down are closer to making a purchasing decision.
Your job is to start leading them further down the funnel to get them hooked on your brand. 🎣
In the section below, we’ll first elaborate all the funnel stages in detail, and suggest some of the best contents you can use to market your brand for each stage.
At the same time, we’ll also explain why each stage is important when it comes to understanding your target audience.
At this stage, it is very crucial when understanding your target audience, so that you can market your products that appeal to the right people.
Your job is to draw your prospects into this stage through marketing campaigns, consumer research and discovery. 🔎
You need to make your prospect aware of their problems and what are the potential solutions you can offer to resolve those issues.
This stage is also where lead generation takes place.
You will be collecting your prospect’s information such as email addresses, so that you can email them more info to educate them about your brand. 📢
Since your goal here is to gain brand awareness, your digital marketing strategy should focus on generating traffic based on a variety of marketing channels.
Such channels include: SEO, email marketing, or social media marketing. ♟️
Using these channels, the best type of contents to promote at this stage are:
- Landing pages
- Education background
- Social media ads
Once leads are generated, you have to move your audience down to the interest stage.
Here, you need to get your customers interested to make a purchase. 💰
At this stage, they’ll be researching your brand, your products, doing comparison shopping, and weighing their options. ⚖️
Given that they are already aware of your existence, they will also be more likely to engage with you online by: clicking on your ads, visiting your website, and following your posts.
Now’s your chance to highlight the benefits that are linked to the products and services that you offer to your leads in your leads database collected from the awareness stage. 📊
The key here is to create high quality content that attracts, entertains and adds value to their lives. That is how interest is created.
Don’t hard sell your products to them yet. You’ll scare them away if you do. Timing is key.
You can achieve this through:
- Creating mobile apps
- Live videos
As you can tell from this step, understanding your target audience is key to spark an interest in them, and get them to care about your brand.
Once you’ve already aroused their interest, you’ve reached the Desire Stage.
At this stage, your customer is interested but still unsure if they should make a purchase. 🤔
Now, you need to make them want/desire to purchase your products. You need to convince them your products are better than the other alternatives in the market.
This is different from the interest stage – desire is stronger than interest. 💪
So, the best way to get them to purchase, you need to offer something enticing to make them desire your brand.
If your prospect decides that your product can resolve their problem, then great! Most likely, they’ll make a purchase. 💰
Here, your prospects will likely be looking at how well your offer fits their budget and the outcomes they can expect from buying your product.
So, you can use some baits to take them from prospect to purchaser. 💵
Some baits you can offer your customers are:
- Free Trials
- Free Consultations
- Free webinars/conferences
- Exclusive Promotions
Once they get a taste of your product/service through free trials and free consultations, it may convince them to turn from prospect to purchaser. This brings us to the next stage. 📊
Finally, you’ve brought your prospect all the way to the end of the marketing funnel.
So, they’ve bought your product. But you’re not done yet. Don’t you want to make them come back to you and buy more? 🤔
If the answer is yes, then you need to focus on customer retention. You do this by nurturing them from a normal purchaser into a loyal customer.
Sure, you can always acquire new customers. But the thing is, it’s actually more cost effective to retain customers than to acquire new ones. 🧲
You’ll need more resources to create a marketing strategy that will appeal to new buyers.
So, it would make more sense to focus on turning your existing customers into loyal ones.
You can do this by reminding your existing customer of why they bought your product in the first place. (Good customer service is also key to turn them into loyal purchasers)
Here are some good tactics to kickstart the nurturing process:
- Reward systems
That’s a wrap!
Those are the basics you need to know when it comes to understanding your target audience in Malaysia.
Potential Target Audience Problems To Avoid
As you try to understand your target audience, it’s very helpful to know in advance that there are some potential problems you may encounter.
So, better to be aware of them now than later. The biggest problem a business could potentially face is not understanding their target audience. 👨👨👧👦
This includes not understanding their pain points, problems, interests and desires.
Understanding your target audience is the basis of your marketing strategy. Without a proper understanding (or incorrect understanding), you will have to spend more time and resources to restructure your marketing plan. ♟️
Lack of careful research and empathy could be some of the main causes of misunderstanding your target audience.
This is the case especially if the company does more talking than listening to their audience’s needs – they are doing more advertising screaming than listening. 👂
Yes, it’s important to blast out marketing messages. But it is also equally important to first listen to your audience’s pain points, in order to craft a brilliant marketing message later.
Without proper listening, you’d be blasting out messages that do not empathise or speak to your audience. 👨👨👧👦
If companies just focus on blasting out self-centred messages, they’ll find it hard to reach certain audiences such as Millennials and Gen Z.
Such audiences prefer brands to be authentic and establish a genuine connection with them, without brands shouting about how great they are in their ears.
As such, understanding your target audience is key.
Another problem to avoid is overly focusing on innovating your products and your competitors. 🏁
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to focus on innovating solutions like coming up with new products that do not address the market’s problem.
Just because you can innovate, it doesn’t mean you should. ❌
Other times, it’s also very easy to focus too much on what your competitors are doing, and then end up overspending your resources to beat them. 💪
So, to avoid these pitfalls, you could ask yourself a few questions to decide if you are adding value your audience when creating a new product:
- What problem does my new product help to solve for my audience?
- Is this problem experienced by the majority of my target market?
- What would my target audience’s lives look like (if I don’t resolve this problem)?
Moving on, another problem to avoid is not analysing your marketing data.
If you already have existing customers, that means you currently have a goldmine of customer information to refine your target marketing strategy. ♟️
But if you do not look at your marketing data on platforms such as Google Analytics, then it could be detrimental to your business. 📊
By actively tracking your website, you will be in-the-know about your best performing content, your most in-demand products and how much website traffic you are getting. 🚦
But if you’ve already looked at your data and you find that your business isn’t doing well, then it’s time to analyse the situation.
Start by asking yourself some questions to identify the problem such as:
- Am I marketing to the right group of audience?
- Do I need to change my brand strategy to appeal to my audience?
- Are there enough people in my target market?
- Do I need to narrow or broaden my target market?
- What factors drive my audience to make a purchasing decision?
With that said, these are all the problems you need to know when understanding your target audience. 👨👨👧👦
Going further to help you avoid these mistakes, we’ll introduce some market segmentation methods below to help you steer your marketing strategy in the right direction.
These market segmentation methods will help you hone in on the most crucial factors you need to know about your audience. 👨👨👧👦
Picking the right segmentation method will help you reduce the chances of not understanding your target audience.
At this point, you’ve already come a long way. 💪
You’ve learned the basics of understanding your target audience.
Now it’s time for something more advanced: market segmentation.
In this section, you’ll learn how to segment/divide your audience into different groups based on their personalities, interests, demographics and location.
Let’s dive in. 🤿
Types of Market Segmentation
First of all, there are 5 types of market segmentation:
- Demographic segmentation
This refers to the process of dividing your audience into segments based on things such as: age, gender, income, religion, family makeup and education. 📚
- Behavioural segmentation
This method is all about segmenting your audience into groups who have a particular behavioural pattern in common. For example, this includes their likes, dislikes, purchasing habits and lifecycle stages.
- Distribution segmentation
This approach segments your audience based on your brand’s distribution channels. Such channels could be done online, the company’s bricks-and-mortar store or even postal mail. 📪
- Geographic segmentation
Geographic segmentation is a strategy where you focus on serving your customers in a particular area, country, state, region, city or even neighborhood. 👨👨👧👦
- Psychographic segmentation
Psychographic segmentation is a method used to group your audience into groups based on similar personality traits, beliefs, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles and other factors. This type of segmentation method can sometimes overlap with behavioural segmentation.
If you’re interested to learn more about market segmentation in Malaysia, you can click here to read more in this article.
Wrapping It Up…
Doing business has never been more difficult in Malaysia, it’s so competitive. 🇲🇾
So, understanding your target audience also will require a lot of work.
If you feel like it’s too much for your company to handle everything in-house, maybe you’d like to speak to an expert in branding, marketing and design.
We think we could be the agency that you’re looking for. 🔎
If you think the same, then hit us up here on Facebook.
We’d be more than happy to have a chat with you on how you can grow your brand and target the right audience.