Segment Segment Segment: how the eyes of our audience inform Shujaaz stories & effects [ARCHIVE]

  • Blog
  • 1 Oct 2015

Audience segmentation is basic practice in marketing and in communications. Experts recommend that you “Segment until you can’t segment anymore” – the smaller the audience, the more targeted and effective you will be.

Radio presenters take this further than most. They’re often trained to speak to “the listener” – a single, notional individual listening to their show. Imagining a proto-typical audience member while they’re on air makes it easier for them to direct and focus what they’re saying, making it more personal and captivating.

When we launched Shujaaz in 2009, having a clear picture of our key audience segments helped us to design the stories at the heart of our media. Each of the main Shujaaz characters represents a key demographic group whom we seek to reach: boys, girls, older, younger, urban, peri-urban, rural, coastarian, middle-class, subsistence and so on.

The characters of Shujaaz are designed to resemble the audience

More recently however, we have taken our segmentation a step further and unlocked something much more powerful.
We realised that the real value of segmentation for Shujaaz doesn’t come when it’s us who break down the audience we are serving into different similar segments. However well we search for attitudinal and behavioural consistencies and groups that make sense, we are still looking on from the outside, inescapably pre-loaded with assumptions about our audience.

Segmentation becomes exciting for us when it’s done by members of the audience themselves, based on their view points.

Young people are brilliant at describing the different groups among their peers and the different views that make up their world. We then cross-check and triangulate these in different locations and communities to test their universality. And slowly we start to see through the eyes of our audience.

With such insight we can create strategies and stories that speak with far greater truth and authenticity than anything we can imagine ourselves. The resonance that creates within our media lifts everything that we do.

This segmentation approach is at the heart of our recent work to understand the challenge of engaging young people in local government in Kenya.