Further actions

How to better reach youth?

(REACH study)

The tobacco and nicotine industry knows its target groups very well and tailors its marketing activities precisely to them. Tobacco control has a lot of catching up to do in this regard. This is why the Tobacco Control Fund (TCF) has tasked Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) with a research project to identify the needs and interests of the target groups – among them adolescents.

The Tobacco Control Fund (TCF) commissioned an interdisciplinary team from Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) to undertake empirically based target group segmentation for tobacco control. Five target group segments resulted for adolescents. They vary with regard to factors including socioeconomic status, pursuit of structured hobbies, social resources and mental wellbeing.

Division of adolescents into five target group segments


For data collection, the research team firstly identified possible segmentation criteria based on an extensive analysis of the literature. In a second step, adolescents were surveyed in qualitative individual and group interviews, focusing on the topic “smoking prevention”. Following this, 2,732 Swiss adolescents aged between 14 and 19 years from all three language regions took a quantitative survey. Based on all these collated data, the research team then divided the adolescents into five target group segments.

The segments include, among other things, information on the demographic and socio-economic situation of the adolescents, their relationships, hobbies, why they did or did not start smoking, and the communication channels they actively use. The realities of the everyday lives of the adolescents are summarised in each case in a brief text, from which initial recommendations for action are derived.

Segment 1 (30%) – Smoking prevalence (proportion of adolescent smokers): 3%

Adolescents in segment 1 have a sheltered upbringing in a smoke-free environment, are happy, motivated to achieve and handle stress well. Smoking is usually not an issue for them.

Segment 2 (23%) – Smoking prevalence: 14%

Adolescents in segment 2 are insecure, tend to be introverted and are still unsure of themselves. They don’t always know who they can turn to with their problems.

Segment 3 (20%) – Smoking prevalence: 40%

Adolescents in segment 3 are in a smoking environment. They are confident, very social and handle stress well. They smoked their first cigarette with others; otherwise they generally smoke when they go out at the weekend.

Segment 4 (17%) – Smoking prevalence: 58%

Adolescents in segment 4 are strongly rooted in their group of friends; their family environment tends to be strained. They take risks and lack direction for the future to some degree. They smoke regularly and drink alcohol.

Segment 5 (10%) – Smoking prevalence: 57%

Adolescents in segment 5 have a low level of well-being and a lack of prospects for the future. They rely on themselves to tackle problems, which leads to them becoming overwhelmed. They smoke to combat stress, the cause of which is often a drastic life event.

The defined target group segments serve as a basis for further communication and intervention measures  by the Tobacco Control Fund and are available to our partners to assist them in drawing up their communication and intervention measures.

Contact for questions: Dr Verena Friedrich, verena.friedrich@tpf.admin.ch