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Bringing It All Together with a Life Stage Approach

Posted Nov 17 2008 8:57pm

As PSI struggles with how best to communicate about complex HIV-related behaviors to increasingly varied audiences, I find myself thinking a lot about life stage communication. This means, in essence, making a product or behavior accessible to people in different life stages, while retaining consistent positioning. This approach, which hinges on segmentation, is more than just improved targeting - it can also mean consciously leveraging or even referencing life transitions like marriage or parenthood. Using a life stage approach fundamentally changes our relationship with our audience into a long-term one: it's the difference between viewing a teenager who's gotten married and stopped using injectables as a discontinued FP user and viewing her as a continuing client whose needs have changed. To date, we've seen life stage communication used most frequently in reproductive and primary health interventions, but the approach also has implications for other interventions that target people at different points in their lives. Could this be relevant for PSI and other organizations that are expanding their efforts in male circumcision (MC), for example? You'd be hard pressed to find something that dovetails more clearly with pre-existing life transitions - in the case of traditional circumcision - or that requires effective communication with such a broad range of audiences. The latter is particularly relevant in some countries in Southern Africa, which are contemplating national roll-out of MC services, with complementary communication efforts targeting not only boys and men of various ages (and circumcision statuses), but also their mothers, partners, and prospective partners. Could life stage communication be the way to bring it all together?

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