Audience segmentation is a process of dividing people into unique subgroups based on well defined criterion such as demographics, psychographics, product usage, communication behaviors and media use. James E. Grunig proposed a model of segmentation comprising a series of inner and outer nests. [Balancing social values and social change. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.]
As digital marketers we must continue to refine audience segmentation until we can reliably communicate at the individual level. - Nick McLain, Vice President, Strategy, Geary LSF. The outer nests consist of communities, psychographics, lifestyles and subcultures, and social relationships, geodemographics, demography, social categories and mass audience.
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.