If you’re considering starting a catering business or already have one and are looking to expand it, then you’re probably wondering what segments of the market you should focus your energies on.

The target market for a catering business includes the corporate market and the private market. Which one of these should you target? Or should you target both? Should you specialize in just one type of cuisine or offer multiple options? Should you cater to certain dietary requirements or just go after broader needs?

These are just a few of the big questions you will be confronted with. And of course, you will need to have a deep understanding of your customers’ selection criteria and decision-making processes when they pick a catering service.

In this article, we’ll review the different parts of the target market for a catering business and take a close look at some of the most important decisions you will need to make as you launch or expand your business.

Target Market for a Catering Business
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Catering Business: Cuisine & Dietary Options


One of the earliest and most important decisions you will need to make is what type of cuisine to focus on and whether you will offer options for certain dietary requirements.

This decision can be based on multiple factors, such as your own experience or training, the availability of good suppliers for the ingredients you need, and even the types of events that are popular in your area.

You will also need to consider the demographic characteristics of the people who live in your community and who are likely to request catering services from you.

For example, if your catering business will focus on families then you may want to offer options like Chinese, Mexican or South American cuisine.

If your catering business is near a college town, then you may want to target the student market with pizzas and burgers.

And if you’re looking to target the corporate market, then you may want to consider office-friendly fares like sandwiches, salads, and finger foods.

Dietary Options

Another factor to consider is dietary restrictions. An increasing number of people are following special diets, such as gluten-free, vegan, or Paleo. Others are vegetarian or allergic to certain foods. Some others have dietary restrictions like intolerance to lactose.

As a catering business, you will need to decide whether you want to target these groups or not. It is important to note that offering dietary options can be a significant selling point for your business. It can also make your marketing campaigns more effective.

For instance, if you offer vegan options, you will have a nice overlap with the target market for vegan restaurants and you can market to this segment with very targeted marketing campaigns.

Just remember that if you do choose to target these groups, then you will need to make sure that you have the proper procedures in place to accommodate their needs. This includes everything from having the right ingredients on hand to training your staff on how to properly prepare and serve the food.

However, it’s important to note that special dietary catering is often more expensive than traditional catering, so you will need to make sure that your prices are in line with the market and with your costs.

Target Market for a Catering Business: Corporate Vs. Private

Another key decision you will need to make is whether to target the corporate market or the private market.

Each one has its own set of needs and requirements, so it’s important to understand the differences between them before you make a decision.

Corporate Market for Catering Services

The corporate market is typically made up of businesses that are looking to entertain clients or reward employees.

They are often willing to spend more money on catering because they see it as a valuable business expense.

However, they also have specific requirements, such as menu options that are suitable for business meetings or working lunches.

Private Market for Catering Services

The private market for catering services is made up of individuals who are planning events like weddings, birthday parties, or family reunions.

They are often looking for a catering company that can provide a unique experience for their guests.

They may also be willing to spend more money on catering if it means that their event will be remembered fondly by their guests, but unlike businesses, they cannot claim the cost as an expense and so will be more sensitive to price.

To make your business more attractive to this segment of the market, you could offer freebies like party favors or custom cake designs.

If you decide to offer catering services for events – both corporate and private, you may want to consider partnering with an event planner, as there will be considerable overlap between your target market and the target market for event planners.

Catering Business: Location and Pricing


Another important factor to consider when choosing the best target market for a catering business is the location of your kitchen.

Are you looking to target local businesses and individuals only? Or are you willing to travel further distances to reach a broader market?

Your answer to this question will likely be determined by your prices.

If you’re charging premium prices and have picked an affluent locality, then you may be able to run a viable business by targeting just your local market.

But if you’re willing to compete on price, then you may be able to target a larger market by catering to customers further away from your kitchen.


Finally, you will also need to consider your prices when you’re selecting your target market.

Are you looking to compete on price or quality? Or are you somewhere in the middle?

Your answer to this question will likely be determined by the type of customer you’re looking to target.

If you’re targeting the corporate market who are willing to pay more, then you may be able to charge higher prices and offer higher quality.

Even if you’re targeting the private market, you may be able to charge premium prices if your focus is on private events like weddings, parties, baptisms, birthdays and family reunions.

But if most of your business is going to come from catering everyday meals to households, you may need to be more aggressive with your pricing to prevent being undercut by a cheaper competitor.


As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider when launching your catering business and choosing the right target market.

The target market for a catering business has two parts – the corporate market and the private market.

The corporate market is usually made up of businesses that are looking to outsource their catering needs for events or functions, whereas the private market is composed of individuals who are planning weddings, birthday parties or other private events.

While both markets look for a catering service that is professional, reliable, and able to provide good quality food there are some subtle differences between the two.

The corporate market is more interested in foods that can be easily consumed in corporate settings but they are less picky about the type of cuisine.

The private market on the other hand may look for a specific type of food or cuisine. The private market will also be more sensitive to special dietary requirements in case guests are vegetarians or vegans or a member of the family has a dietary restriction like lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivity.

Spend time understanding these nuances and target your marketing efforts to appeal to the segment of the market that you’re looking to attract.

And soon, you’ll be well on your way to having a successful catering business.