A Lesson in Audience Segmentation, with the help of Mean Girls
Updated: Mar 23
In the film Mean Girls, lead character Cady comes upon her first day at a new high
school with aplomb but soon runs into a defining dilemma at lunch?
Who does she sit “with”? Her decision is made easy for her in a couple of ways. First,
she’s invited to join a table, and second it just so happens to be the table any girl
seeking to be accepted would want to sit at.
This decision of who to sit with at lunch is of such paramount importance because it
not only will define her to everyone else, but subconsciously it requires her to be
honest with how she sees herself. Does she fit in with the jocks, the nerds, the
cheerleaders or any of the other groups who have systemically divided themselves?
Now, imagine each table as its own distinct target audience, for advertising
If you think back to your own time in school, how did you determine whom you sat
with during lunch? If things were as segmented as they were at North Shore High
School (the fictional school from the film) or were things a little less black and white
and more grey at your school?
Whatever your personal experience is, if you reflect on the way groups divided
themselves you can begin to explore the vast similarities and differences people
self-identify with on a very micro-level and use that as a basis for building target
audiences for your company to zero-in on with its digital advertising campaigns. In
my experience, it’s almost always best to view your targets in shades of grey rather
than black & white.
Of course your ideal audiences will depend almost entirely upon what your goals
are. For Cady, immediate acceptance was at the top of the list. For your company’s
digital presence, you also want to be accepted by the masses while also getting the
most bang for your buck.
Imagine Cady is a potential customer at your business. She’s standing in the center
of the lunchroom trying to figure out where to sit. As a brand, you could leave the
decision up to chance, or you can boost your odds of conversion by simply offering
And all it took to help her decide to sit with “The Plastics” that first day
was an invitation. Your digital advertising campaigns are the invitation. Invite your
audience to join in the conversation on your social media pages.