What is it?

Developing audience insight and establishing a full understanding of people’s lives, what is important to them and what influences them. In particular, understanding the factors that move and motivate them. You may need to consider undertaking primary research to complete your understanding.

Why do this?

People’s attitudes and behaviour are often the result of multiple influences. These may have developed over many years and be firmly entrenched, or be constantly changing. Looking at people’s lives in the round gives insight into why they behave as they do. More >

To consider how we might encourage the desired behaviour, we need to understand why people behave as they do, what influences them, what they care about and their feelings and motivations. More >

How might you do this?

Design and carry out the primary research you require to further understand your target audience(s). You should consider whether it can be done in-house or needs to be outsourced.

Think about the various factors which will impact on the target audiences. More >

Brainstorm within the team to help generate a fuller set of factors. More >

You might find it useful to organise a workshop with key people who know and have worked with the target audience(s). At the workshop you could:

  • Establish the level of motivation to adopt/sustain problem/desired behaviours. More >
  • Establish the reasons why people engage in the desired and problem behaviours.
  • Develop a picture of the target audience by assessing the motivation which drives them to behave as they do, and the strength of that motivation. More >
  • Identify other aspects of the target audience’s life which may (or may not) be directly related to the behaviour. What do they value? What engages them? More >
  • Take a reality check and ask whether the emerging picture is a realistic one according to people’s experience. More >


Make use of other people’s experiences when trying to understand target audiences. More >

Focus on what moves and motivates the target audience when conducting or commissioning research.

Remember that people aren’t always aware of why they behave as they do and will often try and rationalise their behaviour.

Consider using projective techniques to assess inner motives. For example, ask about why ‘other’ people do things, rather than the person answering the questions.


A model or wall chart of the key influences on the target audience’s behaviour. Alternatively, you can develop a tabular record.

A description of what generally moves and motivates each target audience.

A table of more specific motives for both the desired and problem behaviours for each target audience.

Intended Outcome

An initial understanding of the broad target population, its behavioural context and key influences.

An understanding of why the target audience(s) engage in desired and problem behaviours.

The potential to develop interventions which directly address the specific target audience(s) motivations.

Laying the groundwork for audience segmentation and targeting.