Consider Audience Segmentation

As discussed earlier in this Unit, large audiences may need to be segmented or subdivided into smaller groups. The reason for segmentation is because an audience group may be composed of different subgroups with their own set of issues that need to be addressed with different communication approaches.

For example, a priority audience group of pregnant women may be segmented into urban and rural subgroups as these audiences may differ in lifestyle, education, information access and other areas. Each priority audience should therefore be assessed to see whether its members are similar enough to be reached by the same communication channels, and to respond to the same messages and activities.

To decide whether an audience needs to be segmented, it can be analyzed along different criteria that allow for the detection of any significant differences within the group. A significant difference is one that requires a different message or approach.

Criteria that may be used to detect variations within an audience that warrant different communication approaches include:

  • Sociodemographics such as sex, age, education, income, employment, marital status, ethnicity, religion and language
  • Geography such as rural or urban areas, type of community, access to information and services
  • Knowledge about the issue causing the emergency and about risk reduction behaviors
  • Behaviors such as the practice of relevant behaviors, the frequency of practice, the stage of change and media habits
  • Psychographics such as values, aspirations, or benefits sought from the behavior change, interests, attitudes, opinions, personality and preferences

If important differences along any of these criteria appear within an audience group, then it is advisable to segment into smaller groups. The criteria in which differences stand out will represent the segmentation criteria.

Differences may be apparent along several criteria, meaning that multiple audience segments are identified. If resources are limited, it may be necessary to select only some of the segments identified. The following tips can help narrow down the list of audience segments.

Tips for Selecting Intended Audiences

  • Use available secondary and primary research data to explore potential audiences. This practice supports an evidence-based selection of priority and influencing audiences.
  • Use epidemiological evidence to identify those most affected and most at risk of the issue causing the emergency.
  • Consider audiences along the socio-ecological model who can greatly impact the problem. Individuals, community leaders and organizations, health providers, policymakers and authorities can all have an important part to play in bringing the emergency under control.
  • Keep vulnerable groups in mind. Socially marginalized groups may be at greater risk of the problem due to their living conditions, fragile health and inadequate access to facilities and information.