Marketing on Target

Success in an equine business depends upon defining your business’ target market. It is one of the first steps in making a business plan, integral to developing a product, and is critical in making a marketing plan with a decent chance of producing return on investment.

Failure to define a target market, failure to promote to the correct target market, and failure to satisfy the needs of a target market will result in failure of your business’ goal.

But what actually IS a target market? And who is the target market for YOUR horses, products, or services?

"Target Market" Defined:

At its simplest, a "target market" is a specific group of prospective customers or clients who your product or service will satisfy. It is the segment of the population who needs or wants what you are selling.

The members of such a group have certain things in common. Depending on the product or service being sold, the target group may all be horse breeders (and maybe breeders of a specific breed or for a specific discipline). They may be boarding farm owners. They may be event riders, or working ranchers. Depending on the product, each of these groups may have more detailed characteristics in common.

Whatever the horse, product, or service, there is at least one target market that can be defined with specificity. The better what you have to sell can satisfy your target market, the greater your potential for sales and the better your chances at operating a successful business.

Let’s consider a very basic example that illustrates target markets, positioning within a market, and how the target directs marketing efforts.


A hypothetical horse blanket offers protection against rain, snow, and temperatures down to 30 degrees below zero and has a retail price of $275. The manufacturer wants to market this blanket directly to horse owners, without selling to wholesalers or retailers.

The target market is the group who needs or wants the benefits the blanket offers. Considering only the final consumers, the target includes owners of horses who live in cold or changeable climates.

The target may be even more narrowly defined, for example:

  • Owners with a certain income level, because this blanket is on the expensive end for similar products
  • Owners of only one or a few horses, again for economic considerations and the labor involved in blanketing and maintaining blankets.

Certain segments of the population are logically excluded from the target market. For example,

  • Under most conditions, horses living in southern states such as Florida, or tropical areas, have little use for a heavy winter blanket.
  • Owners of horses kept on range with little human contact would likely be excluded from the target because blanketing and maintaining blankets in that management situation would not be practical.
  • Owners of miniature horses or draft horses would be excluded unless the blanket is offered in appropriate sizes.

The promotion for this blanket is influenced by how the target market is defined. When deciding how to spend his marketing budget, the manufacturer will evaluate his options using that definition. By promoting the blanket primarily to the people who are most likely to need or want it, the seller can get a greater response to his marketing. Which means greater return for his marketing dollars.

For example, he probably shouldn’t advertise the blanket in regional publications for the southern states and other warm areas. National publications might also not be the best choice, because a large proportion of their readers live in warm climates.

The seller may use direct mail to promote the blankets. In that case, he will mail information to a list of people in the target group: owners of a mid-to-high economic bracket with a few horses living in colder climates. The more narrowly he can refine his mailing list, the better his response rate should be.

Discover YOUR target market:

Defining the target market for your horses, products, or services is an individual process, and your effective marketing depends upon planning according to your target market.

Have you got a question about equine marketing that you would like answered? Submit your question by email to:

Copyright 2005. This article first appeared in The Equine Business Edge, Equinnovation's complimentary newsletter (click to subscribe).

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