Review the Data Collected on Priority Audience Segments
There are three major types of information that will help you develop your audience profile.
Age, gender, marital status, school status, religion, etc. are a great place to start.
Age: Adolescence and young adulthood are characterized by enormous change in young people’s bodies, minds and emotions. These changes often take place around the same time for young people, so age can be very helpful in understanding what youth are experiencing. In particular, the 10 to 14 age group is likely to have very different life situations, and needs from 15 to 19 year olds. At the same time, however, biological age can also be very different from developmental age. Return to the Adolescent and Young Adult Development figure in the introductory section to learn more.
Gender: Understanding gender norms will help you better understand the audience that you choose. Understanding these norms will help you draw insights about behaviors and help you think through the best messages for your program. For example, if you want young women to use condoms correctly and consistently, you would need to take into account whether or not it is culturally acceptable for them to carry condoms or to negotiate condom use.
Marital and/or Parity status: As noted earlier, married and parenting youth have very different needs than unmarried and non-parenting youth. Once married, young women are often expected and even pressured to start childbearing immediately. Teen pregnancy has its own set of complications, including high rates of maternal morbidity and mortality and postnatal complications for both mother and child.
Behavior refers to the behavior that you are looking to affect. This information is key to knowing why the audience currently acts the way it does and what might make it easy or hard to change its behavior.
Psychographics include the audience’s lifestyle, needs, fears, aspirations, values and interests. Understanding these will help you determine what types of messages will resonate with or ‘speak to’ your intended audience. For instance, if you know that Nadia values what her friends say and think, you may consider developing messages that focus on the peer group and not just on Nadia herself.
When looking at psychographics, consider the following questions. Some examples are provided from the cast of characters.
- What does your data tell you about how your intended audience spends leisure time?
Example: We know that Etienne likes to play football or go to watch football. We also know he likes to go out to clubs.
- What does your data tell you about your intended audience’s aspirations?
Example: We know that Awa dreams about getting a proper job one day.
- What does your data tell you about your intended audience’s values?
Example: We know that Nadia values her daughter and her family, relationships with friends and going back to school.
- What does your research tell you about your intended audience’s lifestyle?
Example: We know that Awa spends a lot of time working at the market. She likes hanging out with friends after work and does not feel safe and secure at home.
The Importance of Your Research
It can be very easy to just make assumptions or generalizations about your audience, but these can lead you in the wrong direction. For instance, you might assume that young people don’t use condoms because you once heard a young person say that condoms are uncomfortable. However, you might find through your research that, in fact, young people don’t use condoms because they don’t know where to find them.
Make sure you have data available about your audience. You may have access to secondary data, such as statistics, documents, reports, surveys and research. You may also want to conduct your own research.
If you wish to find out more about data collection, refer to Essential Element 1.
If developing a profile for a younger adolescent, here are some key considerations to think through, which may or may not be clearly detailed in your data:
- If living in a home environment, younger adolescents are less likely to have independence.
- Younger adolescent girls living in the home may have specific demands on their time linked to household chores.
- Girls at this age are more likely to drop out of school and may start being considered for marriage.
- If not living in the home, this age group is very vulnerable to crime, drugs, sexual violence and sex work.
- Younger adolescents are less likely to have developed negotiation and decision-making skills.
- Younger adolescents are generally more vulnerable due to their younger age and having less knowledge, awareness and skills necessary to engage in sexual activity.
- Girls, in particular, are more likely to be victims of sexual coercion due to the vulnerability linked to their age.