Step 2: Identify your Priority Audience and Measure the Behavior Baseline

To create a successful behavior change campaign, it is important to identify the audience segments within the general population that are most prone to respond to your campaign. To do this, you will need to identify your priority audience and measure the behavior baseline.

A. Identify Your Priority Audience

You can have the most influence by focusing your resources on the segments of the general population that are most likely to change. Within your geographic area, there may be many audiences who engage in and influence your selected behavior. Begin by identifying all the major groups of people who could engage in the behavior. Potential audiences may be grouped based on one or more variables including demographics, geography, values and lifestyles, affinity groups and/or current related behaviors or characteristics (e.g., homeowners with large lawns).

Make a List

Start by making a list of all the groups of people who have influence on the behavior. These people directly influence, or create the conditions for, your priority audience to take the action you want them to take. For example, if you want homeowners to plant native plants, but local nurseries do not stock native plants, the local nursery owners are an audience that affects the ability of your priority audience (homeowners) to adopt the behavior. You may have to address the behavior of the nursery owners before you can implement your behavior change campaign with homeowners. If you want landscaping companies to stop planting invasive plants, it may be prudent to pursue a new regulation limiting the sale and or planting of particularly noxious invasive plants; this would require working with policymakers.

Evaluate your priority audiences against the following criteria:

Note: Both opportunity and likelihood are the same measures you considered in Step 1 to choose your behavior. Now you are looking at your community more deeply to examine opportunity and likelihood within population segments.


How likely are they to engage in your behavior? It is important to remember that you should not conduct a behavior change campaign with a priority audience that does not want to change their behavior. Instead, focus on the portion of your priority population that is interested in changing their behavior, but just needs some help.


Among those who have not yet adopted the behavior, how likely are they to adopt the behavior? The larger the percentage who are likely to adopt this behavior, the greater the chance you will be successful in changing the behavior.


How large is this audience segment as a portion of the entire population? The larger the size, the greater effect your behavior change may have. Likewise, if your priority audience is very small, consider if it is more efficient to reach out to them through individual relationships or one-on-one interactions, rather than investing in a full-scale behavior change campaign.