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I was reading an essay and encountered this sentence;

''When computer games were invented, they were initially marketed at and played by the younger generation.''

When I looked up sentences with ''market at somebody'' I found nothing in either Oxford Learner's Dictionary or Cambridge Dictionary, but I found this on Oxford Learner's Dictionary;

''School meals need to be marketed to children in the same way as other food.''

Is it incorrect to write ''market at somebody'' ?

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    I wouldn't say it was incorrect, just unusual. Presumably the sense is 'the marketing was directed at young people'. Mar 6, 2022 at 8:06

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If you were talking about a discrete individual I would say "marketed at" would be very jarring, but when (like here) it is used with an amorphous group either "marketed at" or "marketed to" is okay.

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  • Thank you! An ESL teacher just gave me this answer '''Marketed to' is used in the following context; Roblox are under scrutiny for marketing their latest battle game to children and young players. In this instance the product is being sold to a specific type of consumer. 'Marketed at' would be used in the following context; Tourism and municipal organizations are working together to develop a picture of the Capital that could be marketed at both the local and national level to attract tourism and businesses to the area. ''
    – user138449
    Mar 6, 2022 at 16:42
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    But there the collocation is "at...level" rather than "market at".
    – nschneid
    Mar 12, 2022 at 5:30
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Both are fine. But they have a couple of differences of nuance.

To market something at someone or some market segment can convey the sense of the marketeer 'aiming' at that target from a distance.

Where one is marketing something to someone, the sense more often conjured up is one of the marketer 'bringing' or 'presenting' the relevant product to a specific audience.

Using 'at' sounds a little more impersonal (and perhaps more aggressive), while choosing the preposition 'to' lends your sentence a possible nuance of active close-up contact with the people for whom the product is intended.

You would be more likely to market (say) a cigarette brand at a particular target market, while a product intended to genuinely solve potential customers' problems will tend to be marketed to such customers.

Think also of the difference between throwing a ball to someone and throwing a ball at someone.

More generally, one tends to go to people (personally) and aim at targets (or people) impersonally and at a distance.

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