Visitor profiles
Beyond demographics

Old market research techniques are making way for Culture Segments – a mass personalisation approach that asks what motivates different types of cultural consumers. Gerri Morris explains

By Gerri Morris | Published in Leisure Management 2016 issue 1


A number of the UK’s museums, galleries and heritage attractions have adopted a new way of looking at their audiences, and it’s paying dividends.

They’re using an audience segmentation system that’s based on understanding the deep-seated values that drive people’s engagement with culture. Then they’re using these insights to craft offers and messages that really resonate.

Using this system, the Museum of London saw a massive increase in visits; Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is increasing its exhibitions engagement; the Tate Modern is maximising its audiences; and Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) is using the insights across every area of its work, from marketing to interpretation to retail.

The system is called Culture Segments and it takes a psychographic approach to classifying customers. Developed by cultural research consultancy Morris Hargreaves McIntyre (MHM), it’s designed as a system that can be used by any organisation targeting audiences for cultural, leisure and heritage attractions.

Why segment?
Audiences are not homogenous. They’re made up of diverse people with different needs and wants. To be audience-focused, we need to understand and meet those needs and wants. In an ideal world we’d develop personalised offers for everybody, but this is expensive and impractical. Segmentation is a good half-way house: clustering people into groups who share the same needs and wants and developing differentiated strategies for those segments whose needs we can best meet.

Why use psychographics?
Many segmentation systems are based on demographics such as age groups, life stages, income levels or social class. Or they’re based on behaviour – people who already engage in different types of activity and people who might. There are other proprietary systems that are based on making assumptions about the attitudes and values people might have depending upon their postcode.

Most of these systems are concerned with finding audiences for mass-market products and so they take a broad-brush approach. What we’ve found when people engage with culture is that such approaches simply don’t apply and so these systems will always have limited success.

What motivates us?
Cultural activity is highly discretionary. The motivations people have for engaging with culture and the benefits they seek are highly personal. In this respect, broad demographic groups are not homogenous in their attitudes towards culture. In those areas where there’s a critical mass of cultural offerings – in cities, for example – housing is so diverse that a single postcode can’t possibly serve as a proxy for what all residents might be looking for as cultural options.

Through years of research we have found that values and attitudes are the key factors that drive cultural behaviour.

Some people are open to taking risks with what they see and do, others are more conservative and want the reassurance of popular events. Some people want to have a great time with friends; others want deep and meaningful experiences, sometimes on their own. Some people want to be challenged and provoked while others want the comfort of familiar things. Some people have their imaginations fired by the creative process, while others prefer to be wowed by the finished article. Some people want to learn; others want to have fun. These and many other factors determine the type of cultural consumer an individual is.

Eight Culture Segments
Culture Segments have been derived from robust research using large-scale quantitative methods and multivariate 3D cluster analysis. The system divides the majority of the adult population into eight distinct groups. In this system, the definition of “culture” is very wide – stretching from high art to movies, from playing an instrument to making a film, from going to a pantomime to going for a walk.

The eight segments are:

Enrichment
Mature; traditional-minded and interested in heritage, nostalgia and life-long learning

Expression
Community-focused, receptive, confident; value inclusivity and creatively inclined

Affirmation
Aspirational; seek quality time, build their self-identity and look for self-improvement

Stimulation
Contemporary-minded; social, active, experimental and like discovery

Essence
Sophisticated, discerning, independently-minded and spontaneous; very active cultural consumers

Perspective
Settled, self-sufficient, focused, content, with fulfilling interests; appreciate being reminded how much they enjoy occasional cultural outings

Release
Time-poor, busy, ambitious; struggle to prioritise leisure activities; wistful and need guarantees they’re not wasting time or money

Entertainment
Enjoy mainstream fun, popular acts and events; see mainstream culture as great social and leisure opportunities

This is not to suggest that there are only eight kinds of people in the world, but that if we group people according to those who have these factors in common, we’re in a better position to understand and meet their needs. We’ve developed detailed “pen portraits” – easy-to-use data sketches full of details about the eight segments, designed to help attractions recognise and understand their audiences and prioritise those that offer most potential. Organisations are proving that this approach to “mass personalisation” is more effective than targeting people by superficial, irrelevant factors.

Reaching your audience
Using these insights about their markets, organisations can begin to develop cross-departmental strategies to respond to the needs, values and motivations of audiences. This gives teams across departments a common language for talking and thinking about audiences.

Culture Segments have worked effectively for the Museum of London, where they have increased their audiences from 500,000 to over 1 million in the past two years. The museum used Culture Segments to identify its core, priority and developmental audiences, creating events programmes to attract new groups and effectively target exhibitions at very different segments, thereby attracting entirely new audiences.

At London’s Tate Modern, for Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, Culture Segments were used to identify those audiences that are always slow in booking tickets and attending certain exhibitions, to then urge them into taking action promptly and reassuring them that the show would deliver positive benefits. The result was that the Matisse exhibition broke all of Tate’s records to date, attracting some 600,000 visits over its five-month period.

Understanding your visitors
At HRP, every department is familiar with Culture Segments and develops its strategies with its priority segments in mind. Each palace has priority segments that inform programming and events planning. Developments, retail and catering offers are all increasingly being informed by research with key segments.

MHM also works with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, most recently to evaluate several of their festivals, including the summer festivals Plantasia and Full of Spice. Applying the segmentation developed for the attraction – which is based on the attitudes, needs and motivations of visitor groups – enabled Kew to understand its festival visitors through a segment lens, and to understand what potential visitors might want from a festival depending on their segment. This has allowed the attraction to actively focus on and address visitor engagement with their festivals.

Culture Segments are universal. MHM has now conducted studies in many different countries, including the UK, the US, Norway, Sweden, China, India, Brazil, Australia, South Korea, Turkey and Indonesia. It works across the subsidised and commercial cultural sector from performing arts and exhibitions to plays and visitor attractions.


Museum Of London

 

Sharon Ament
 
Sharon Ament Director Museum of London

The Museum of London is as much about the people of London as the “stuff” and the history of London. Therefore, it’s imperative that we’re connected to our audiences and understand them in a sophisticated way.

It was important for me that the museum went beyond the broad classifications of audience. I wanted to understand motivations as much as demographics.

We worked with MHM on Culture Segments, because we wanted to understand and target our audience more accurately to make the most of our resources.

Audience segmentation has a real ability to impact on an organisation if it’s part of a bigger package - a bigger transformation agenda. At the Museum of London we’ve been thinking about ourselves strategically in a new way, and now a whole slew of new strategic activities are coming together as one.

Culture Segments allowed us to identify core audiences and effectively target exhibitions at existing and new segments. A Michael Caine exhibition and a Sherlock Holmes exhibition were aimed at attracting specific audiences. We prioritised two groups of our main audience, which we called “London insiders” and “cultural connoisseurs”. The first group are locals who love to go behind the scenes and discover the hidden London, and the second group use and consume culture all the time. We chose to target them, because where they lead, other groups will follow.

The “Look Again” campaign to promote the museum was designed to attract London insiders, and was hugely successful. We have found using YouTube videos to promote our exhibitions is not only effective, but quick, economical and sharable.

In 2015, the exhibition was Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die. Everything from our advertising to our late nights to our Sleeping with Sherlock sleepovers, all our products tried to be more contemporary and to connect more with audiences.

We also created a Museum of London tweed. Our curators analysed the colours referred to in the Sherlock Holmes stories, and we designed an urban tweed fabric with Liberty’s of London and used it to create Sherlock-style hats and other items, which were priced around £40 and sold out in the museum shop.

We had advocates who wore the hat, helping us promote it and communicating the message of the museum to the contemporary London audience we want to attract.

In the end, it’s about being extroverted rather than introverted and being more savvy when it comes to the audience needs.


"Our curators analysed the colours referred to in Sherlock Holmes stories and designed a tweed with Liberty of London"

 



A Michael Caine exhibition targeted London “insiders”, according to the museum


Gerri Morris is an arts management consultant. In 1997, she established strategic cultural management and research consultancy Morris Hargreaves McIntyre with Jo Hargreaves and Andrew McIntyre. Morris has led projects for clients such as Tate, the British Museum, National Trust, Art Institute Chicago and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You can access Culture Segments free on the MHM website, where you can also find out which segment you are in. www.mhminsight.com
 



Gerri Morris
Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew uses an audience segmentation system to understand engagement
Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew uses an audience segmentation system to understand engagement
Tate Modern have boosted attendance by targeting certain sectors in their audience
Museum of London have boosted attendance by targeting certain sectors in their audience
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Leisure Management
2016 Review

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Beyond demographics

Visitor profiles

Beyond demographics


Old market research techniques are making way for Culture Segments – a mass personalisation approach that asks what motivates different types of cultural consumers. Gerri Morris explains

Gerri Morris, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre
Eight Culture Segments
Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew uses an audience segmentation system to understand engagement
Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew uses an audience segmentation system to understand engagement
Tate Modern have boosted attendance by targeting certain sectors in their audience
Museum of London have boosted attendance by targeting certain sectors in their audience

A number of the UK’s museums, galleries and heritage attractions have adopted a new way of looking at their audiences, and it’s paying dividends.

They’re using an audience segmentation system that’s based on understanding the deep-seated values that drive people’s engagement with culture. Then they’re using these insights to craft offers and messages that really resonate.

Using this system, the Museum of London saw a massive increase in visits; Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is increasing its exhibitions engagement; the Tate Modern is maximising its audiences; and Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) is using the insights across every area of its work, from marketing to interpretation to retail.

The system is called Culture Segments and it takes a psychographic approach to classifying customers. Developed by cultural research consultancy Morris Hargreaves McIntyre (MHM), it’s designed as a system that can be used by any organisation targeting audiences for cultural, leisure and heritage attractions.

Why segment?
Audiences are not homogenous. They’re made up of diverse people with different needs and wants. To be audience-focused, we need to understand and meet those needs and wants. In an ideal world we’d develop personalised offers for everybody, but this is expensive and impractical. Segmentation is a good half-way house: clustering people into groups who share the same needs and wants and developing differentiated strategies for those segments whose needs we can best meet.

Why use psychographics?
Many segmentation systems are based on demographics such as age groups, life stages, income levels or social class. Or they’re based on behaviour – people who already engage in different types of activity and people who might. There are other proprietary systems that are based on making assumptions about the attitudes and values people might have depending upon their postcode.

Most of these systems are concerned with finding audiences for mass-market products and so they take a broad-brush approach. What we’ve found when people engage with culture is that such approaches simply don’t apply and so these systems will always have limited success.

What motivates us?
Cultural activity is highly discretionary. The motivations people have for engaging with culture and the benefits they seek are highly personal. In this respect, broad demographic groups are not homogenous in their attitudes towards culture. In those areas where there’s a critical mass of cultural offerings – in cities, for example – housing is so diverse that a single postcode can’t possibly serve as a proxy for what all residents might be looking for as cultural options.

Through years of research we have found that values and attitudes are the key factors that drive cultural behaviour.

Some people are open to taking risks with what they see and do, others are more conservative and want the reassurance of popular events. Some people want to have a great time with friends; others want deep and meaningful experiences, sometimes on their own. Some people want to be challenged and provoked while others want the comfort of familiar things. Some people have their imaginations fired by the creative process, while others prefer to be wowed by the finished article. Some people want to learn; others want to have fun. These and many other factors determine the type of cultural consumer an individual is.

Eight Culture Segments
Culture Segments have been derived from robust research using large-scale quantitative methods and multivariate 3D cluster analysis. The system divides the majority of the adult population into eight distinct groups. In this system, the definition of “culture” is very wide – stretching from high art to movies, from playing an instrument to making a film, from going to a pantomime to going for a walk.

The eight segments are:

Enrichment
Mature; traditional-minded and interested in heritage, nostalgia and life-long learning

Expression
Community-focused, receptive, confident; value inclusivity and creatively inclined

Affirmation
Aspirational; seek quality time, build their self-identity and look for self-improvement

Stimulation
Contemporary-minded; social, active, experimental and like discovery

Essence
Sophisticated, discerning, independently-minded and spontaneous; very active cultural consumers

Perspective
Settled, self-sufficient, focused, content, with fulfilling interests; appreciate being reminded how much they enjoy occasional cultural outings

Release
Time-poor, busy, ambitious; struggle to prioritise leisure activities; wistful and need guarantees they’re not wasting time or money

Entertainment
Enjoy mainstream fun, popular acts and events; see mainstream culture as great social and leisure opportunities

This is not to suggest that there are only eight kinds of people in the world, but that if we group people according to those who have these factors in common, we’re in a better position to understand and meet their needs. We’ve developed detailed “pen portraits” – easy-to-use data sketches full of details about the eight segments, designed to help attractions recognise and understand their audiences and prioritise those that offer most potential. Organisations are proving that this approach to “mass personalisation” is more effective than targeting people by superficial, irrelevant factors.

Reaching your audience
Using these insights about their markets, organisations can begin to develop cross-departmental strategies to respond to the needs, values and motivations of audiences. This gives teams across departments a common language for talking and thinking about audiences.

Culture Segments have worked effectively for the Museum of London, where they have increased their audiences from 500,000 to over 1 million in the past two years. The museum used Culture Segments to identify its core, priority and developmental audiences, creating events programmes to attract new groups and effectively target exhibitions at very different segments, thereby attracting entirely new audiences.

At London’s Tate Modern, for Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, Culture Segments were used to identify those audiences that are always slow in booking tickets and attending certain exhibitions, to then urge them into taking action promptly and reassuring them that the show would deliver positive benefits. The result was that the Matisse exhibition broke all of Tate’s records to date, attracting some 600,000 visits over its five-month period.

Understanding your visitors
At HRP, every department is familiar with Culture Segments and develops its strategies with its priority segments in mind. Each palace has priority segments that inform programming and events planning. Developments, retail and catering offers are all increasingly being informed by research with key segments.

MHM also works with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, most recently to evaluate several of their festivals, including the summer festivals Plantasia and Full of Spice. Applying the segmentation developed for the attraction – which is based on the attitudes, needs and motivations of visitor groups – enabled Kew to understand its festival visitors through a segment lens, and to understand what potential visitors might want from a festival depending on their segment. This has allowed the attraction to actively focus on and address visitor engagement with their festivals.

Culture Segments are universal. MHM has now conducted studies in many different countries, including the UK, the US, Norway, Sweden, China, India, Brazil, Australia, South Korea, Turkey and Indonesia. It works across the subsidised and commercial cultural sector from performing arts and exhibitions to plays and visitor attractions.


Museum Of London

 

Sharon Ament
 
Sharon Ament Director Museum of London

The Museum of London is as much about the people of London as the “stuff” and the history of London. Therefore, it’s imperative that we’re connected to our audiences and understand them in a sophisticated way.

It was important for me that the museum went beyond the broad classifications of audience. I wanted to understand motivations as much as demographics.

We worked with MHM on Culture Segments, because we wanted to understand and target our audience more accurately to make the most of our resources.

Audience segmentation has a real ability to impact on an organisation if it’s part of a bigger package - a bigger transformation agenda. At the Museum of London we’ve been thinking about ourselves strategically in a new way, and now a whole slew of new strategic activities are coming together as one.

Culture Segments allowed us to identify core audiences and effectively target exhibitions at existing and new segments. A Michael Caine exhibition and a Sherlock Holmes exhibition were aimed at attracting specific audiences. We prioritised two groups of our main audience, which we called “London insiders” and “cultural connoisseurs”. The first group are locals who love to go behind the scenes and discover the hidden London, and the second group use and consume culture all the time. We chose to target them, because where they lead, other groups will follow.

The “Look Again” campaign to promote the museum was designed to attract London insiders, and was hugely successful. We have found using YouTube videos to promote our exhibitions is not only effective, but quick, economical and sharable.

In 2015, the exhibition was Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die. Everything from our advertising to our late nights to our Sleeping with Sherlock sleepovers, all our products tried to be more contemporary and to connect more with audiences.

We also created a Museum of London tweed. Our curators analysed the colours referred to in the Sherlock Holmes stories, and we designed an urban tweed fabric with Liberty’s of London and used it to create Sherlock-style hats and other items, which were priced around £40 and sold out in the museum shop.

We had advocates who wore the hat, helping us promote it and communicating the message of the museum to the contemporary London audience we want to attract.

In the end, it’s about being extroverted rather than introverted and being more savvy when it comes to the audience needs.


"Our curators analysed the colours referred to in Sherlock Holmes stories and designed a tweed with Liberty of London"

 



A Michael Caine exhibition targeted London “insiders”, according to the museum


Gerri Morris is an arts management consultant. In 1997, she established strategic cultural management and research consultancy Morris Hargreaves McIntyre with Jo Hargreaves and Andrew McIntyre. Morris has led projects for clients such as Tate, the British Museum, National Trust, Art Institute Chicago and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You can access Culture Segments free on the MHM website, where you can also find out which segment you are in. www.mhminsight.com
 



Gerri Morris

Originally published in Leisure Management 2016 issue 1

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