Understanding Segmentation: How To More Effectively Target Your Message
Last week we posted the first article in a blog series by Faunalytics board member Anthony Bellotti. This is a series of “ad autopsies” in which Anthony evaluates animal protection advertisements to gauge what is and is not effective. This series reminds us that all social movement campaigns are in large part marketing campaigns. In the animal protection movement, we are “selling” a message that the treatment of animals should be changed. When viewed as a marketing campaign, it becomes easier to envision ways that we can more effectively develop, target, and sell our message.
A cornerstone of any marketing campaign is audience segmentation. Put simply by one group dedicated to the topic:
“Market segmentation divides a market for goods or services into distinct subdivisions…A market segment is a subgroup of people sharing similar consumer characteristics. And because each segment shares the same attitudes and behaviors, they generally respond the same to a given marketing strategy.”
Advertisers decide who they want to target and then they develop campaigns to win over that segment of the population. The animal protection movement can take a cue from advertisers. Too often we develop general massages and advertisements assuming that everyone is our audience, without a focus on who these should target. But to be effective, we must tailor our message to specific segments.
There are a number of individual characteristics everyone has that segment the population, including age, race, ethnicity, gender, geographic location, marital status, level of formal education, and income. Taken together, these are often referred to as “demographic” characteristics.
Putting Segmentation to Work for Animals
Understanding how attitudes vary by demographic characteristics can help us better target animal protection campaigns. If you know who your audience is likely to be—for example, you know you will be putting up a billboard in a middle-class neighborhood or you will be handing out flyers on college campuses where most people are in a specific age range—then you can utilize demographic information to better anticipate how your animal issue will resonate with the target audience. Knowing this means you can be more prepared when speaking to people and can also focus on the most relevant or important points for that population.
For example, Faunalytics has found consistently in our Animal Tracker surveys that level of formal education is related to how much trust people have in different authorities on issues of animal welfare, as the graph below highlights. Based on this information, you might make a pamphlet different if it is to be passed out at a high school than at a college campus. It is clear that people have the most trust in veterinarians, so it would make sense to quote a veterinarian as an expert your literature. If a pamphlet will be passed out at a high school you might also want to quote experts from animal protection groups, or highlight your group’s logo, since those with some high school education place trust in animal protection groups as well. If your literature is aimed at a college audience, citing scientific studies in your literature might strengthen your argument as well, since those with some college or college degrees have trust in scientists and researchers.
You can also harness knowledge about demographic segmentation even if you do not know who your audience will be or if you expect a varied audience—for example, if you are leafleting at a large community event or putting up a billboard on a major throughway. In general, the goal of most animal protection campaigns is to win over the greatest number of people as quickly as possible. Therefore, for any general campaign, your target audience should be those most likely to agree with you. Once you understand who is most likely to accept your message, you can better target your campaign to reach that group.
For example, women, teens and young adults, and those with more education are more likely to be vegetarian or vegan than their counterparts. Therefore, it makes sense to gear campaign materials and outreach efforts toward this group by tailoring the messages and images that you use. If you have the resources, you can even conduct focus groups with young women to ascertain how they receive your campaign materials. This information can also be utilized to direct you to the most appropriate venue for outreach. In this case it would make sense to target college campuses and college clubs likely to have a majority of women, such as sororities.
Segment, Don’t Stereotype
A very important thing to remember about segmentation is that understanding how groups vary on average does not actually provide information about any specific individual. A possible negative outcome of segmentation is that it can lead advocates to stereotype or generalize individuals based on characteristics such as race or age or gender. It is important to remember that segmentation allows knowledge about trends within a group, but all people belong to multiple groups and have unique biographies, ideas, and beliefs. So, while you can use demographic segmentation to direct your advertising, remember that each individual you speak to is exactly that, an individual, and a priori assumptions based on race, class, gender, income, or any other characteristic, should be not stereotypically applied.
To utilize population segmentation, you need to know where to go to find out about how attitudes vary by demographics. Faunalytics has developed a couple resources to make this quick and easy. First is the Chart Tool, which contains all of the data from our annual Animal Tracker surveys. The Animal Tracker asks various questions of relevance to animal advocates, including level of trust in various authorities, how often people engage in different animal friendly behaviors, and how much knowledge people have about areas of concern for animal advocates, among others.
The Chart Tool allows you to quickly access the responses to these surveys. With this tool, you simply click on the question you are interested in and the responses appear in an easy to read bar graph. You can also choose to have the results further broken down by demographic characteristics, such as sex, age, or level of education. Two of these graphs are laid side by side so that you quickly compare across two groups (such as men versus women, or people who live with companion animals versus those who don’t).
You can supplement this information, or find out information for topics not included in the Animal Tracker survey, by looking up what other research is available. In order to facilitate searches of relevant research, Faunalytics has compiled a research library with academic journal articles, industry reports, and surveys. The database is searchable by animal issue and/or keyword. Each item is summarized in a few paragraphs so you can quickly identify if the resource is of interest, and we provide a link to more information or access to the full study.
Since Google searches can yield immense amounts of information, and it is difficult to determine what is relevant and valid, Faunalytics has worked to make an animal protection oriented database, with the items hand-selected for animal advocates by Faunalytics’ staff. However, if you don’t find what you are looking for here, then head on over to Google, beginning your search terms with “attitudes toward [your issue of interest].”
Faunalytics also provides a series of Research Fundamentals. Each Research Primer is about 8 pages long and summarizes the relevant and recent attitudinal and behavioral research on a given animal-related topic. This is a quick way to learn about attitudes toward an issue. We currently have Research Primers addressing companion animals, animals in research, fur and trapping, and vegetarianism.
These resources can be utilized quickly and easily and can have an important impact on how you sell the message that animals need more protections and more rights. Stay tuned for another article from Anthony’s “Ad Autopsy” series to learn even more about harnessing the power of advertising to help animals. In his next post, Anthony will review advertisements against animal testing.