Online marketing starts with knowing your audience. But we often get so caught up in defining our larger audience that we miss opportunities to approach pre-defined, niche audiences that match up nicely with a brand.

This coming week, the culinary world will receive it’s newest James Beard Award winners. For those of you who don’t know, these awards mark the highest level of achievement in the culinary arts and media in North America.

The nominees read as a list of who’s who in the industry, including some we’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past year, like Jamie Bissonnette, Matthew Jennings, and Hedy Goldsmith.

Aside from the amazing talent that is represented on the list, the nominees also call our attention to valuable audience segments that are worthy of notice.

1. Southerners

A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen by Hugh Acheson Nominee for book award in American Cooking category
Southerners and lovers of southern food are very passionate about their food and they love to eat. They’re typically not afraid of some of the fattier ingredients that have gone in and out of vogue. They have a strong communal identity as well.

Brandscape opportunities: If you want to partner up to reach this audience, consider grills and smokers, cars, lifestyle clothing (think Chico’s), alcohol, packaged food brands (like Kraft).

2. Food Sensitives

The Intolerant Gourmet: Glorious Food without Gluten & Lactose by Barbara Kafka Nominee for book award in Focus on Health category
All it takes is one trip to the grocery store to realize this is a growing, trending audience segment. These folks are health conscious, whether they want to be or not. Brands have had a lot of success marketing simple, gluten-free and non-dairy solutions that make it easier for people to manage their conditions.

Brandscape opportunities: This field has a well-defined audience and some key brands who speak directly to them. But there is a lot of room for growth. Look to those already marketing to the gluten-free crowd, but also think creatively about what else is affecting their lives. Are there housecleaning supply companies that are GF? Perhaps other sensitivities come into play and you partner with a vacuum cleaner company (like Dyson). Or perhaps you find GF bloggers with big audiences and underwrite their content.

3. Kitchen DIYers

Too many nominees to mention fit this category. A couple that stand out are Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer and My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking by John Besh.

There’s a growing trend of people wanting to experience the fullness of life in the home and kitchen. They like to make things from scratch and grow their own veggies and herbs (if not goats!). This audience is highly motivated and willing to experiment with new things they think may add value to their lives.

Brandscape opportunities: This audience is looking for ideas and tools to pull off great feats of food and community in their kitchens. Find talent who speak directly to this and help to build their platform by underwriting them and getting your brand attached to their messages. These folks love trends like scratch baking, nose-to-tail eating, and urban gardening. Partner with brands who are making the tools to make those trends more accessible.

But remember, DIYers also understand that less is more, so find opportunities to help them make smart decisions to buy the right products, because there is a good chance they’ll spend more for quality.

And, best of luck to all the James Beard nominees.