Defining your Target Market: Not everyone buys the same toilet paper

As a business owner, do you know who your target market is?  Can you describe the person or business that you are specifically targeting that can benefit from your product, find value in your product, and willing to pay for it?

When I teach marketing to college and graduate students, I like to talk about toilet paper. It’s memorable. It’s funny. And it also gets the point across. Even toilet paper brands create target markets. When I ask students who the target market for toilet paper is, I hear, “everyone!”

I shake my head no, in slight sadness and realize that not everyone is cut out for marketing. Unfortunately, not everyone uses toilet paper. The reason can be cultural, financial, or whatever. The point is that ‘every person in the world‘ is NOT the target market for toilet paper.

Let’s look at some of the brands in the market and talk about who could potentially be the target market.

Charmin. At Target and Walmart, Charmin is the expensive brand. It’s super duper soft on the bum. It’s thicker with ridges. It costs more than any other toilet paper. It’s the ‘premium’ product. The target market are consumers with higher disposable incomes, want comfort on the bum, want a cleaner feel with less paper.

Let’s flip to the opposite side. Dollar Tree brand. It’s usually the cheapest at $1 for 4 rolls. It’s usually thinner and a little rough on the bottom but gets the job done. The target market are the consumers with limited income. They may want a luxury product and comfortable feel but they are limited by what they can afford to buy.

Somewhere in the middle. Another brand is Scott. Scott is a thinner paper. It’s priced above average. I realized that the uniqueness and value in Scott IS that it is thinner. One consumer type are people who live in older homes. Older homes in the US have smaller sewer pipes and do not handle the thicker toilet paper as well. Therefore, even wealthy people may be forced to use Scott toilet paper due to its thinner paper. This is a unique target market for Scott.

There are a lot of other brands and varieties too but for simplicity’s sake, I limited the analysis here. Charmin has a “Basic” product line that is a simplified version of the name brand and priced lower. Cottonelle has 3 distinct types of toilet paper: clean, aloe vera, and ultra comfort. There are more….

Let’s go back here and look at your company. Who is your target market? How can they best be described? Would you use demographic variables like age, gender, religion, race, income level, education level, and homeowner versus renter? Or would you use psychographic variables like lifestyle, personal values, cultural values, and social class?

Here’s one more caveat, as your company grows, you may have more than one target market. At the time of my employment, Dollar General had 5 target markets as a $4 billion company. Your small business should only have 1 to 3 target markets. If not, then you may need to take a moment and reexamine your business plan.

If you are targeting everyone, then you are really targeting no one. **Boom, mind blown!** Remember that you can always take on other customers but put your initial focus, time, money, sales staff, and other resources to target one group specifically. With the clutter and noise in the world, be known for one thing. You are, of course, talented enough to do more than one thing but choose one for now. Then target your message to your target market.

And remember,  not everyone buys the same toilet paper.

If you liked this article, please share on your facebook, instagram, or other social media accounts. Next week, I’ll talk about branding. Heads up: Branding is not just a pretty logo.




  1. […] let’s get back to how YOU can create an effective promotions strategy for your business. Define your target market. Then figure out where your target market hangs out: social media, in the car, retail store, etc. […]


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