Chapter 7. Audience Segmentation (Step 2)

Segmentation is the process of identifying groups of people who share similar interests and needs relative to the behavior that the campaign intends to change. Segmenting allows for targeting limited resources and focusing on groups that can create the most change. It also helps ensure choosing the most effective and appropriate activities for specific audiences and customizing messages and materials.

The first step in audience segmentation answers the question, “Whose behavior must change in order to change the health situation?” The answer is in the key findings collected from the situation analysis.

Primary audiences

Primary audiences are the key people to reach with messages. These may be the people who are directly affected and need to practice the desired behavior. Or they may be the people who can make decisions on behalf of those who would benefit from the behavior. Primary audiences can be further segmented into sub-audiences. For the Ebola crisis, primary audiences will be communities and health workers.

Influencing audiences

Influencing audiences are people who can impact or guide behaviors of the primary audience. Influencing audiences can include people in the community who shape social norms, influence policies or affect how people think about the behavior. It is crucial to prioritize influencing audiences by how much they may able to impact change. For example, elders and community leaders are likely key influencing audiences, but their level of influence (low, moderate, strong) may depend on country context.

Audience profiles paint a picture of the intended audience and help guide communication messaging and activity planning. Profiles should embody characteristics of specific audiences, and tell a story of imagined individuals who can represent intended audiences. Basing decisions on what the imagined person might or might not do, allows for more intimate knowledge of that audience segment and leads to better-defined and better-focused communication strategies.

An audience profile should consist of a paragraph with details on current behaviors, motivation, emotions, values and attitudes, as well as information such as age, income level, religion, sex and place of residence. It should model the primary barriers to the desired behavior faced by the audience segment. Further, it can include a fictitious name and photo that represents this person to help visualize who this person is and tell his or her story.

If the information gathered in the situation analysis lacks detail on any audience segments, additional research should be conducted to address gaps. For example, for all health provider audiences, it may be especially important to conduct formative research around provider attitudes and other drivers of their behavior (such as policies, training, supervision or resources). Such information can better inform the audience profile and the strategy.

Additional Resources

For more specific step-by-step instructions on audience segmentation, see How to Segment an Audience.

Illustrative Example: Audience Segmentation

View an example of audience segmentation for an Ebola communications campaign.

Back to Chapter 7