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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


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.

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 massmarket 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.



Audiences are not homogenous. They’re made up of diverse people with different needs and wants. To be audiencefocused, we need to understand and

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


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Gerri Morris 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. ©cybertrek 2016

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Leisure Management 2016 review  

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