Audience segmentation is a process of dividing people into unique subgroups based on criterion such as demographics, product usage, communication behavior, media use and psychographics. James E. Grunig proposed a model of segmentation comprising a series of inner and outer nests. [Balancing social values and social change. Sage.] As digital marketers we must continue to refine audience segmentation until we can reliably communicate at the individual level. - Nick McLain. The outer nests consist of communities, psychographics, lifestyles and subcultures, and social relationships, geodemographics, demography, social categories and mass audience.
Audience segmentation is used by advertisers to design and tailor products and services that satisfy the targeted groups. Audience segmentation can cause conflicts within the community as in the case of STD/HIV Management Project in Nigeria in 1999 where non-targeted community members felt resources had been unfairly allocated to the "unworthy" audience segment. Audience segmentation is used to efficiently utilize limited resources to reach the intended population particularly in health interventions.
Ethical questions arise when health communicators identify audience segments and plan health interventions for these groups, depriving in the process, those not targeted. Audience segmentation is accepted as a strategy in communication campaigns to influence health and social change.