Culture in Lockdown. Part 3: Covid Audience Mindsets
In his final thought-piece on Culture in Lockdown Andrew McIntyre shares Covid Audience Mindsets, a crucial new model that maps, illuminates and segments your post-lockdown audiences.
Here’s the painful truth: not all our organisations are going to make it through this crisis. But, those whose plans are most Audience-focused will have a huge advantage over those whose focus is mainly on adapted presenting formats and the logistics of safety.
In Part 2 of this think-piece, The 7 Pillars of Audience-focus, I shared a practical planning framework to transform your re-opening plans into urgent, radical experiments in Audience-focus. In this, Part 3, I’m sharing Covid Audience Mindsets, a crucial new model that maps, illuminates and segments your post-lockdown audiences.
We really need a map
Let’s start with what we all already know: the world has shifted off its axis. This pandemic has shaken the ground under our organisations, and those without deep community foundations are in danger of collapse. The audience is just as shaken: people are suffering financially, emotionally and psychologically. That’s triggered a seismic shift in what people want from culture and a complete recalibration of their perception of how risky a cultural visit might be.
As we enter this brave, new, post-lockdown world, we’re going to need a really good map.
But, where are we going?
We’re not trying to build a map showing the way back to 2019. That’s a very different time zone. If we headed for the last known location of the audience, we’d find they’re not where they used to be. First of all, we need a survival map. Then we need to set our compasses on a course to somewhere better: a more Audience-focused future.
So, what kind of map do we need?
Already, we’re being offered three types. Commentators are offering us a political map that charts the challenging new financial and regulatory terrain. Logistical planners are offering us a physical map of detailed, practical, socially-distanced safety measures. And a plethora of research agencies are offering us mass audience tracking surveys, plotting a basic demographic map of actual lockdown activity and imagined future visitation.
All three are useful. None of them are what we really need.
What we really need is a new human geography. A fundamental base map of the new landscape, this time not drawn from our point of view as cultural producers, but seen through the eyes of our audiences. A map that gives us plenty of latitude to try new things. A fully-contoured map that transcends flat, featureless demographics and instead elevates the startling psychographic differences in the way that audiences are reacting to Covid.
In short, we need a map of Covid Audience Mindsets
Building this better model
Working with our many international museum clients, the Everyman and Playhouse theatres in Liverpool UK, Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater in New York USA, Malmö Live in Sweden, and informed by in-depth responses from over five thousand audience members, we’ve been busy building and refining a model of these Covid Audience Mindsets.
We didn’t rely on standard survey demographics. Instead, we harnessed the power of the free Culture Segments system to reveal the deep-seated values and beliefs that underpin people’s cultural engagement. We used need-states modelling to discover how the lockdown has changed what different audiences now seek from culture. We employed behavioural psychology to explore people’s emotional resilience and risk propensity. And we asked deeper, more qualitative questions about how lockdown has affected people, really listening to the heartfelt responses they shared with us.
We identified a hierarchy of three core factors that, in turn, frame, shape and determine each segment’s post-lockdown decision-making:
This is the realm of the deep-seated values, beliefs and personality traits that frame and segment our relationship to culture and society. Covid hasn’t changed any of this – in fact, it has pressure-cooked each segment into a more extreme version of itself. Because it’s based specifically on these drivers, the Culture Segments system is, by far, the most useful way to understand the why and the how of people’s future engagement with us.
What has changed are people’s immediate need-states: the social, intellectual, emotional and spiritual outcomes they want most from their post-lockdown cultural experiences. Lockdown has confined us, restricted us and distanced us, all in the constant shadow of a looming threat to our health and prosperity. Conversely, it’s amplified what we value most and our sense of community.
While the Segments’ underlying needs still diverge, lockdown has coalesced everyone’s needs around two common desires: joy and human connection.
How long this convergence will last is debatable, but anyone planning their re-opening should take note.
Weighing the anticipated rewards of engaging with culture against all the risks involved is complex. Personal circumstance – health, caring responsibilities, location, employment and finances – are all great modifiers. They make this deliberation much less rational and far more emotional than it was pre-Covid. Segment by Segment, this either fuels or curbs people’s underlying enthusiasm for returning to our venues and events. Uniquely, Culture Segments reveals these startlingly different patterns.
Covid Audience Mindsets: Segment by Segment
There are 8 distinct Culture Segments, each defined by the deep-seated values and beliefs that frame the way they engage with culture.
Understanding how each segment will respond to your post-lockdown offer will be crucial. Here’s a summary of how each has engaged during lockdown, sees their digital future and is approaching re-opening…
ESSENCE are core cultural visitors: discerning, confident, independent and arts-essential.
In lockdown. Shutting down culture has been like cutting off oxygen. Digital content has been a lifeline, though not a patch on the real thing.
Digital futures. It will only ever be an extra: a wrap-around enhancement.
Re-opening. They can’t wait. Essence favored social distancing before it was fashionable, so exclusive access with limited numbers is their perfect proposition.