Polio Eradication: How Market Segmentation and Target Market Can Help Reach the Last Mile
Polio Eradication: How Market Segmentation and Target Market Can Help Reach the Last Mile
Sami Kakar & Shahpur Suleiman

Polio eradication is within our reach. However, to achieve this goal, we need to rethink our approach and improve our strategies. It is time to revisit the strategies and do what needs to be done to reach the goal of a polio-free world. Among the many interventions and strategies being used by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), healthcare marketing is probably one of the most important aspects to look into. We need to put the question of whether our marketing is producing the desired outcomes especially when the virus has resurfaced in the country. Do we need to reinvent it? Is there something that is not working? With these questions in hand, we have to understand some basics of healthcare marketing in relation to polio eradication. One way to do this is through market segmentation and target market. By analyzing our audience and customizing our interventions, we can increase the effectiveness of our polio eradication campaigns and send messages that will work.

Market segmentation is the process of dividing a larger market into smaller groups with similar needs and preferences. In the case of polio eradication, we can segment the population by;


To effectively address the diverse needs of the population, the polio program should consider demographic segmentation based on age, gender, socioeconomic status, and educational level. Segmenting by age would allow for tailored vaccination strategies specific to children that are persistently missed, under 1 year, and the cohort born within last six months. Gender segmentation would enable the program to address any gender-related barriers to vaccine acceptance or access as evident during polio campaigns where female vaccination coverage was more than male children. Additionally, considering socioeconomic status would help identify and address disparities in healthcare access among different income groups. Lastly, recognizing the varying levels of health literacy tied to educational backgrounds, the program can customize communication materials and campaigns to effectively reach different educational segments. By implementing demographic segmentation, the polio program can optimize its interventions and ensure they are relevant and impactful for each distinct population group. Recently, the program has implemented segmentation by categorizing areas based on their risk levels – outbreaks, risk reduction, and maintenance districts. This approach allows for targeted interventions that address the specific challenges and needs of each category based on epidemiological trends and virus circulation. By focusing on high-risk areas with more intensive vaccination efforts and tailoring strategies for lesser-risk areas, the program has optimized its resources and prioritized areas with the greatest need. This risk-based segmentation enables the program to deploy its efforts strategically and efficiently, ultimately moving closer to the goal of polio eradication.


Dividing the market based on geographic location, such as urban vs. rural or by specific regions, to target interventions and messages according to the unique challenges and opportunities presented by each area. This is one of the areas where the program needs to reinvent or intervene.


Segmenting the market based on attitudes, beliefs, values, and lifestyles to better understand the motivations, behaviors, and preferences of different consumer groups.

Psychographic segmentation for the polio program could involve dividing the population into groups based on their attitudes, beliefs, values, and lifestyles. This type of segmentation can help the program identify those who may have unique concerns or motivations related to polio vaccination and develop targeted interventions to address these concerns. Within the target audience of health-conscious parents, who prioritize their children’s well-being and may prefer natural remedies. For skeptical parents, who harbor doubts about vaccine safety or effectiveness, the program should address their concerns head-on by providing accurate information and dispelling misconceptions with a direct approach. The program, however, has introduced direct engagement of community influencers in this regard. Additionally, for socially conscious parents driven by a desire to make a positive impact, highlighting the community-wide benefits of vaccination and emphasizing their role in polio eradication efforts can be influential. To reach busy or disengaged parents who may face time constraints or prioritize other matters, the program has already room for catch-up days where such parents have the opportunity to vaccinate their children. By tailoring messaging and interventions to these distinct segments, the polio program will effectively engage and address the specific needs of each group.


Behavioral segmentation can be implemented by the polio program by dividing the population into groups based on their attitudes and behaviors related to polio vaccination. This segmentation can help identify those who are hesitant or resistant to vaccination and develop targeted interventions to address their concerns. For instance, the polio program can conduct surveys or focus group discussions to identify the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy or refusal. Based on the findings, the program can develop specific messaging and interventions to address these concerns. For example, if the research finds that some parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children due to a fear of side effects, the program can develop educational materials that emphasize the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and address any misconceptions. Another example of behavioral segmentation could be based on vaccination history. The polio program can identify individuals who have missed one or more doses of the vaccine and develop targeted interventions to encourage them to complete their vaccination schedule. This could involve sending reminders to parents via text message or conducting follow-up visits to ensure that children receive all required doses.

The thought process of parents from Gulistan or Abdul Rehmanzai in Killa Abdullah district will differ from parents hailing from DHA Karachi or the Model town of Lahore city. Similarly, the needs and expectations may be completely different as well. The perceived severity according to the health belief model (HMB) of an individual from Chaman can be opposite from someone residing in Waziristan. In the same context, the perceived benefits, and barriers as per HBM will be different too.

Target market, on the other hand, is the specific group that the program wants to reach with its products or services. In the context of polio eradication, our target market is parents with young children who have not been vaccinated or who need additional doses. Our question here is whether our target market strategy is influencing the parents. Is it somehow reaching the cue to a decision? Are we applying strategies that seem to be outdated or is there room for improvement?

To improve our polio eradication efforts, we need to continue to analyze our market segmentation and target market. We can use data and analytics to identify the most vulnerable populations and the most effective interventions. CBV, for example, is one intervention that successfully brought women empowerment in most conservative areas by recruiting females from the localities. This helped the program 100% access inside the houses. It also gave impetus to household females to frontline worker engagement.

The Polio program is used to categorize refusal based on the parents’ perception and response. This, however, has been discontinued. The lack of data on the refusal of parents according to category has had a negative impact on the polio program’s market segmentation efforts. Market segmentation relies on accurate and up-to-date data to identify and target specific populations, and without this data, the program may struggle to develop targeted interventions to reach at-risk populations.

Refusing parents according to category can help the program identify families who may be at a higher risk of contracting polio, as well as those who may have missed previous vaccinations. Without this data, the program may struggle to identify populations with unique needs and preferences and may not be able to develop effective interventions to encourage vaccine uptake.

The polio program’s approach of targeting a uniform group with a uniform message in the diverse population of Balochistan poses a significant problem in the quest for polio eradication. Balochistan is a region characterized by a rich tapestry of ethnicities, languages, and traditions, each with its own set of unique challenges and barriers. By adopting a one-size-fits-all approach, the program may fail to acknowledge and address the diverse beliefs, practices, and social structures that exist within these communities. This approach can inadvertently perpetuate vaccine hesitancy and hinder progress toward eradication. Balochistan’s complex context calls for a more nuanced strategy that respects cultural sensitivities and tailors interventions to address the specific barriers faced by different population groups. By embracing this approach, the polio program can foster trust, engage communities effectively, and overcome the challenges that hinder polio eradication efforts in Balochistan.

In the realm of social media, the polio program’s reliance on monotonous messages falls short of meeting the needs of the target audience. To effectively combat vaccine hesitancy and disseminate vital information about the polio vaccine, a shift towards providing simplified research findings is crucial. The program should harness the power of storytelling by showcasing success stories from around the world that resonate with the Pakistani situation. Furthermore, by tailoring historical accounts and experiences of countries that have successfully eradicated polio, the program can create engaging and relatable content that captivates the target audience. Platforms like Al-Ghali can serve as valuable forums to present scientifically accurate information in an accessible manner, ensuring that both the target market and polio workers have a solid understanding of the subject matter. For instance, sharing research studies demonstrating the long-term benefits and effectiveness of the polio vaccine, such as the landmark study conducted by researchers at Stanford University showcasing the eradication of polio in Nigeria through a comprehensive vaccination campaign, can bolster confidence in the vaccine and dispel myths or misconceptions surrounding it. Similarly, highlighting the remarkable progress made by populated countries that successfully eradicated polio can inspire and motivate the target audience towards achieving similar success. In recent years, China has emerged as a powerhouse in technology, business, and research, garnering widespread attention for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite its massive population, China’s ability to eradicate polio is a remarkable feat that can offer valuable insights for both the target market and market segmentation strategies. By examining how China tackled polio, we can gain valuable lessons on effectively reaching and engaging large populations in healthcare initiatives. This success story can inform the development of tailored interventions and strategies that resonate with specific population segments. By adopting these persuasive tactics, the polio program can effectively engage the target market, empower polio workers, and foster a greater understanding and acceptance of the polio vaccine.