Segmentation and the Whitney Museum of American Art membership scheme
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, offers membership called ‘Curate Your Own’, in which members select one of five specialised ‘buckets’ of benefits in addition to core admission and discount benefits. For this case study Nina Simon sat down with Kristen Denner, Director of Membership and Annual Fund, to learn more about the programme’s development and the museum’s goals for its future. This article was first published in JAM (issue 42 / April 2011).
How did you end up with the five segments of membership — social, learning, insider, family and philanthropic?
The focus groups revealed these five strong attitudinal segments among members and prospective members. It was pretty unusual from a research perspective that there weren’t just one or two dominant ones — all five of these had robust levels of interest.
Why did you segment the benefits, instead of offering them totally à la carte?
We wanted to do that [à la carte] initially, maybe assigning points to different benefits and letting people have ten points, that kind of thing. But logistically it was just impossible to pull off. It was going to be incredibly difficult to track who had what.
After we had brainstormed ideas for benefits, we did quantitative research and were able to rank benefits for different interests. It became really clear that certain benefits really only appealed to some segments. The overlaps we put in the core benefits — everyone wants free admission, for example, and the neighbourhood discounts.
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