With your research results in hand, you are now ready to identify your target audiences and the behavior changes you would like them to adopt. Target audiences are individuals or groups of community members that your program needs to influence.

Follow these steps to help you categorize and segment your target audience and determine the best ways to reach them with your messages. 

Categorize Your Audiences
Select Behavior Changes
Segment Your Primary Audience
Understand Motives for and Barriers to Participation


By dividing audiences into categories, you can identify a role for each audience group to play in your program and how best to reach them.

There are three basic categories of target audiences:

  • Primary: Those whose behavior you are trying to change
  • Influencers: Those that can influence the primary audience
  • Gatekeepers: Those that can facilitate or prevent access to the primary audience.

The table below shows the categories of audiences that might be relevant to a home energy efficiency upgrade program.

Single-family homeowners Local media Local media
Electrical utilities Community leaders
Clubs and community organizations
Environmental groups
Co-workers/colleagues of primary audience
Real estate agents
Elected officials


Once you have identified and categorized your audiences, you will need to identify the specific behavior you wish to change in each audience type: What is it that you want each audience to do differently as a result of your messaging?

The chart below shows example behavior changes for three types of audiences.

Single-family homeowners Sign up for a home energy evaluation/upgrade
Community Promote program/upgrades to their members/constituents
Real estate agents Recruit new homeowners/clients to sign up for a home energy evaluation


To be most effective, you will typically need to segment your primary audience, because certain subsets may be more inclined to participate in your program or complete the desired behavior than others. For example, it may be useful to break down your primary audience (e.g., single-family homeowners) based on characteristics such as income, age, or language spoken in the home, or perhaps attitudes, beliefs, and values.

After categorizing target audiences, decide which one(s) you consider to be your priority audience(s) (i.e., those people whom you want to quickly act on your messages and participate in your program). Use the Audience Brainstorm and Categorization worksheet to identify your specific target audiences.

Planning Worksheets: Audience Brainstorm and Categorization


Understanding what motivates your target audiences and what prevents them from taking action is very important to creating messages that will change behavior. This is where your research will come in handy. The behavior changes you identify should align with what motivates your target audience.

  • Motivations: Reasons the audience would take action to improve the energy efficiency of homes or businesses.
  • Barriers: Things that stand in the way of the audience being able to improve the energy efficiency of homes, businesses, and other facilities. These are things that your program messages will aim to overcome.

The motivations and barriers you identify will need to be addressed when you develop your messages, and strategies and tactics.

It can be difficult to "sell" home energy retrofits to homeowners. Many of your potential customers won't be interested in undertaking energy upgrades. The table below shows some of these barriers?but also the motivations?for typical target audiences of a home energy efficiency upgrade program. Of course, you will need to determine the specific motivations and barriers of your own local target audiences.

Want a comfortable home that is free of drafts Don't know that their comfort problems are solvable. Are worried about expense-money and time
Neighbors, family, or friends are getting energy upgrades Improvements are "invisible" compared to a kitchen or bathroom upgrade
Want to save money on energy bills Are distrustful of government programs

Tips include:

  • Define your primary audience narrowly (e.g., single-family homeowners with household incomes greater than $50,000), not broadly (e.g., all homeowners).
  • Select a specific desired behavior change (e.g., sign up for a home energy evaluation).
  • Focus your efforts on priority audiences that show the most potential for behavior change.


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In 2009, Energy Trust of Oregon, in partnership with Clean Energy Works Oregon, used market segmentation techniques to improve marketing activities to support energy-saving goals in the residential sector. Residential audiences were divided into six segments:

  • Main Street Oregonians: Non-urban residents who are receptive to green living
  • Willing and Able: Financially capable, higher energy consumers with greener attitudes
  • Hands Full: Large families with lower incomes and lower perception of the efficacy of energy efficiency
  • Show Me: Eastern Oregonians who are less receptive to energy efficiency
  • Strugglers: Renters in survival mode
  • Maybe Later: Young renters with green attitudes.

The program determined that two of these segments were more likely to participate: "Willing and Able" and "Main Street Oregonians." As a result, Clean Energy Works Oregon chose these two groups as priority audiences. Recognizing that different market segments have different motivations, the program tailored marketing strategies to each segment's motivations.


In an effort to better identify various customer and market barriers, Wisconsin Energy Efficiency (WE2) formed partnerships with teams from the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC); the grant sub-recipient cities of Milwaukee and Madison; and their financial partner, Summit Credit Union. Marketing teams from each program met as a coordinated brain trust to develop an approach for reaching the Wisconsin program's target audiences. Using the partner cities' local knowledge of their residents and businesses, the program hopes to achieve higher-than-typical penetration rates among the target audience and attract more participants to the statewide program.


Recurve, a home energy improvement company based in California, found that a certain percentage of its customers are primarily motivated by health issues, due to mold allergies or having a child with asthma.