What is Shotgun Approach in Marketing?

A shotgun isn’t used to hit the eye of the bird. Hunters who use shotguns are just concerned with killing the bird (or any bird beside it). It’s a similar case with the shotgun approach in marketing.

What Is Shotgun Approach?

The shotgun approach is a marketing strategy where marketers try to appeal to a wide market of potential customers by using various (both above the line and below the line) advertising strategies. This situation occurs when the target audience of the business is too diverse to focus on any one segment.

Hence, just like a shotgun that fires a large number of smaller pellets in a wide area, marketers opt for techniques like television advertisements, out of home advertisements, radio ads, and other ATL & BTL marketing strategies to target as many people as possible.

Marketers, in this approach, focus more on the product than on the target audience to appeal to everyone. The product and its benefits are usually generic which form the locus of all the communication.

Features of Shotgun Approach

The shotgun approach is a subset of mass marketing approach. The focus is on getting as many eyeballs as possible by creating some creative promotional strategies and placing them in huge quantities.

  • It is an advertising approach and focuses on promotion to a wide array of audience.
  • The main focus is to get as many impressions as possible which will eventually turn into sales.
  • It usually costs a lot to implement.

Difference Between Shotgun Approach and Rifle Approach

The focus of the shotgun approach is to reach as much audience as possible through wide-ranging strategies while the rifle approach focuses on specific, high-yield prospects through one to one promotional mediums. To simplify it further –

Shotgun Approach
Rifle Approach
Wide audience targeting
Niche targeting
Usually involves ATL marketing strategies
Usually involves direct marketing strategies

The Psychology Behind Shotgun Approach

This approach can be used by and is useful to any kind of business that has its target audience spread over a large demographic or has various demographics as its target audience. It increases the odds of hitting a target when it is more difficult to focus on one.

A shotgun approach is a game of probabilities. The more impressions users get of the brand, the more are the chances of them carrying out the required action (e.g. purchase of the product). Brands focus on grabbing the attention of consumers in “different, surprising, original and entertaining” ways in order to generate the most desirable feedback.

This approach comes out of the philosophy that more is better. Marketers focus to gain the attention of the largest possible crowd in hopes that the number of eventual purchasers will be equally large. This approach may turn out to be successful in some of the product types like Credit Cards where mails (and emails) are sent to every home (and contact) in hope that some of them will reply to it. This type of practice is also known as carpet bombing. (Carpet Bomb Marketing is marketing to the point of saturation).

shotgun approach

Examples of Shotgun Approach

Shotgun, though started offline, has seen tremendous growth with the internet boom. Internet, though a great tool to implement the rifle approach of marketing, has seen companies using the shotgun approach as well.

The shotgun approach is prevalent with companies –

  • Whose audience and customers are spread widely across various Demographics
  • Which believe reaching more people is more important than getting higher ROI and CTR.
  • Which want to build more brand visibly across multi-channels instead of building a big audience in (solely) one platform.

Here are some companies which have used the shotgun approach in their marketing campaigns.


Coca-Cola is one of the biggest companies with a big and varied customer base. The company, as a part of its marketing strategies, has launched many generic advertisements (not targeting a specific demographic) and promoted them on a large scale. This shotgun approach is useful to Coca Cola Corporation as it markets its products to billions of people worldwide, which come under multiple demographics of age, gender, ethnicity, and income. Though Coca Cola also implements the rifle approach in some of its marketing strategies, it relies mainly on the shotgun approach of marketing.

Coca Cola focuses more on building its brand image by creating simple yet interesting advertisements.

coca cola shotgun approach
coca cola shotgun approach


Other FMCG Companies, including Colgate, have a target group made up of varied demographics. Hence they make use of generic advertisements in massive quantities and varied mediums to reach to the mass.

colgate shotgun approach
colgate shotgun approach

Who all can benefit from Shotgun Approach?

FMCG companies usually have perfect competition and a varied demographic audience. They prefer to use this approach to create more brand awareness and brand preference. But a small business like a local coffee shop could also benefit from shotgun approach. They might reach to more potential customers with a non-specific campaign than it would with targeted marketing materials.

Go On, Tell Us What You Think!

Did we miss something? Come on! Tell us what you think of our article on Shotgun Approach in the comment section.