Why select an audience?

Selecting a specific target audience helps you to deliver impact. It allows you to:


Be specific on outcomes

Clarify specific outcomes you are seeking, and to measure impact accurately.


Tailor the intervention

Tailor messaging and channels to your audience’s specific characteristics and interests.


Make efficient use of resources

Select the right channels to reach that particular group and avoid overspill.

Segmenting your audience

You can segment your audience based on a range of factors.
You may wish to cluster groups according to several of these factors.

Demographic Factors

E.g. Age, gender, income, ethnicity.

Geographic Factors

E.g. Urban vs rural areas.

Behavioural Factors

E.g. Use of certain services, habits.

Psychographic Factors

E.g. Values, lifestyle, interests.

Target and market selection

The selection of your target audience will be influenced by two main factors: the issue, and intervention.

The Issue

Factors to consider include:

Which groups are the most negatively affected by an issue now?

Which groups are likely to see an increase in negative impacts in the future?

Which groups are underserved by existing activity?

The Intervention

Factors to consider include:

Ease of access (e.g. penetration of mass media channels in the target audience)

Likelihood of responsiveness to social marketing (e.g. ‘timely’ moment in people’s lives where habits and behaviours are already in flux.)

Practical factors to consider

When selecting your audience and market, certain practical factors also need to be taken into account.

Policy Support

Does the legislative framework in this country support action (e.g. for a smoking programme, is the government committed to tobacco control measures)?

Is this target group a focus for wider behaviour change efforts on this issue?

This is not a pre-requisite, but can make social marketing programmes more likely to be effective as they will be swimming with the tide of wider norms change. See Social Marketing


Will running this intervention in this way (e.g. with a particular group/in a certain location) put participants, implementers or the wider public at more risk than they would face in their everyday lives?


Is it ethical to focus social marketing efforts on this group (e.g. if they are under 18)? Could you be seen as discriminating against or ignoring other important audiences?

Research Availability

Is there existing data on this particular group that can be used to inform the programme?

Existing Social Marketing

Is this group already being targeted by social marketing on this issue? Is there a risk of duplication/confusing the message?

Cost Effectiveness

What is the cost of running an intervention of this nature with this group (e.g. which media channels will be needed to reach this group and how much do they cost to access in this country)? How cost-effective is running this programme with this group compared to other affected groups?

Additional Resources

Using social marketing prevention: Insights from practitioners

View resource