James Doeser explains how Arts Council England’s Arts Audiences Insight segmentation was created and how you can use it to learn about and target segments more effectively.
As a researcher, I'm fascinated by human behaviour. In what ways are we different? In what ways are we similar? These are big questions but important for understanding how people engage with the arts. One way to reach some answers is via segmentation.
There is nothing new about segmentation. It's been a routine part of the arts marketing toolbox for many years. There is now a marketplace of different segmentations. There are generic population segmentations like ACORN and Mosaic, sector-specific segmentations that are created by organisations for their own use (often derived from data they have gathered themselves). This article focuses on Arts Council England's Arts Audiences Insight segmentation, which was updated last year.
The Audiences Insight segmentation was originally created in 2008 to inform our thinking about the different ways in which the population of England engages (or does not engage) in the arts. The model has 13 segments, with two highly engaged groups such as Traditional Culture Vultures, seven somewhat engaged groups like Dinner and a Show, and four not engaged groups such as Time-Poor Dreamers.
We updated the 13 segment profiles last year in order to better reflect the way people encounter the arts today.
The segmentation is built on data from the Taking Part survey (a national survey of cultural and sport participation) along with data from the TGI survey on people's lifestyles and consumer behaviour. Our approach to segmentation has three key features:
- it covers all English adults, not just an existing audience group
- it starts with the arts - while existing population-wide segmentation tools are based largely on the socio-demographic characteristics of diffrent groups, this segmentation is based on the arts
- it looks across the patterns of both arts attendance and participation - the events people go to see as well as the activities they take part in at home or with friends.
The segmentation research tells us that people approach the arts in different ways. People's responses and behaviours tend to be patterned. Barriers to engagement do not follow single characteristics like age and gender - the patterns of engagement tend to be very complex.