Segmentation: An Essential Tool For Local Authority Communications

DF profile pic 2In this climate of cuts, local authorities must be even smarter when engaging with residents, says Waste Awareness Wales’ national campaigns manager, Dan Finch. He says that expensive campaigns that use “catch all” marketing tactics are not possible or desirable anymore.

Segmentation involves dividing a broad target market into subsets of consumers who have common needs

In Wales our next targets are to recycle 58% of our waste by 2015/16. Whilst these are ambitious, they are achievable. The key to this success will be to develop marketing strategies with clearly defined target markets, utilising cost effective tactics that resonate with audiences. An essential tool to help achieve this is the Wales wide waste and recycling segmentation model developed by Waste Awareness Wales.

Waste Awareness Wales is a Welsh Government funded organisation that aims to support local authorities with help and guidance on waste and recycling issues, particularly focused on marketing and communications.


In its widest sense, segmentation is a type of marketing strategy that involves dividing a broad target market into subsets of consumers who have common needs, and then developing and implementing strategies to target their needs using communication channels that are best suited to reach them.

In this case, the segmentation model has been developed so local authorities can better understand their residents’ attitudes and behaviour towards waste and recycling and to engage with them using the marketing channels and messaging they are most likely to respond to.

The segmentation was developed by amalgamating CACI’s (creator of ACRON segmentation) geodemographic and lifestyle characteristic with WRAP’s annual 3R’s tracker survey.

Introducing The Segments

The model divides the Welsh population into ten segments, each one representing a different section of the populace.

The information provided on each segment is split into two parts, one detailing “facts and figures”, the other “insight and implementation”.

“Using the segmentation allows strategies to really target residents. It provides a detailed picture of attitudes towards waste and recycling that will allow authorities to underpin the strategic direction of marketing campaigns”

The facts and figures elements show general geodemographic and lifestyle information such as type of housing and ownership, age, life-stage, occupation, income, favoured supermarket and so on.

It also reveals recycling specific information behaviour such as what proportion put recyclable items in the general rubbish and what proportion contaminate recycling, plus where the segment looks for information about recycling such as council websites etc.

The second element provides more insight and ideas on strategic implementation into marketing strategies, suggesting what campaigns to consider but also, more importantly, discusses in detail what type of marketing methods should be used to best reach the segment and what types of messages can be used so they are most likely to be engaged.

To illustrate this, if we look at one segment, ‘Terraced Families’, highly prominent in the Welsh Valleys, we discover that food waste collection amongst this group is low, we can also determine that the best way to communicate is by face-to-face engagement via door step conversations, they are also likely to respond to leaflets/samples picked up in-store, consequently supermarket road shows to compliment other activities, such as door stepping or direct mail might also be effective. Further, details of the direction and messages the campaign could use are also suggested.

The information is available at ward and postcode level allowing the local authority to develop a real understanding of their populace.

Local authorities know their residents and so some of this information may be obvious, but in reality, the nuances are often ignored and a homogenized approach to marketing is frequently used, as a result, marketing campaigns suffer, never really connecting effectively.

Using the segmentation allows strategies to really target residents. It provides a detailed picture of attitudes towards waste and recycling that will allow authorities to underpin the strategic direction of marketing campaigns.

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