What is it?

Because people are different, a crucial element of a marketing strategy is selecting target audiences. Segmentation is the process of identifying groups with similar needs or preferences, who will respond in a similar way to a given set of stimuli and activities. More >

It may be appropriate to group and cluster behaviours to understand what motivates the audience and help develop specific objectives for the intervention.

Behavioural clustering involves identifying and grouping the many behaviours which can make up a particular problem, or desired, behaviour. For example, what are the behavioural steps needed to take more exercise? More >

Why do this?

The benefits of segmentation and targeting your approach are:

  • Increased knowledge and understanding of the target audience
  • It is easier to identify trends in the target audience
  • More efficient use of resources
  • Interventions and programmes can be tailored more effectively

Ability to set meaningful objectives. More >

How might you do this?

Bring together the key players to consider the target audience. More >

Check that key players understand the meaning and importance of audience segmentation. More >

Identify segmentation criteria and variables, bearing in mind that there are many potential segmentation variables to choose from.

Focus on those variables relating to the desired behaviour as well as problem behaviour. More >

Evaluate potential target audiences once they have been identified. More >

You might find it useful to look at an approach to segmentation carried out in 2006 by the Department of Health


If the secondary evidence is insufficient, select up to three target audiences with whom you can conduct primary research.

Remember, research can be expensive so the more focused your brief, the more economical it will be.

Encourage people to describe behaviours in as detailed a way as possible, then cluster these specific examples into groups that show similar features.

Avoid blanket and non-specific behaviours, for example, for food behaviour ‘eating high fat foods’ is too general – be more specific.


A list of specific target audiences, described by segmentation variables.

An analysis of the viability of each target audience according to specific criteria.

A behaviour tree for a specific generic behaviour.

Intended Outcome

A clear understanding of whose behaviour the social marketing intervention must address.

Identifying specific target audiences which fulfil the criteria for effective segmentation and targeting.

A better understanding of the many behaviours which contribute to the overall ‘generic’ behaviour.

A good basis for analysing the determinants of behaviour, identifying appropriate interventions and setting realistic goals.