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Bringing data segmentation to life

  • Date: 14 August 2012
  • Artform: All
  • Area: National
group of people Photo: Alasdair Sherit, & Co The cultural marketing house

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Descriptions of market segments are necessarily thumbnail sketches rather than sensitively textured and sharply defined representations. This can raise as many questions as it answers.

This pilot presented a rare opportunity to address these questions through live exchanges between local authority arts officers and representatives of the audience segments. It sought not only to increase understanding but to share new approaches to developing these audiences and increase confidence in the value of segmentation.

It leaves a legacy of short films and other resources through which practitioners can gain an understanding of the Dinner and a show and Family and community focused segments.

This project used qualitative research techniques to add depth and colour to the profile descriptions of the Dinner and a show and Family and community focused audience segments.

Questions suggested by local authority staff were put to representatives of the two audience segments in semi-structured interviews which were videoed and edited.

These provided material for four workshops with local government arts officers from different parts of England. Two of these workshops, (London and Leeds) included opportunities for delegates to work alongside representatives from the two segments to explore ideas for different strategies to develop these audiences.

Participant not only learned at first-hand about the attitudes, values, and behaviours of the audience segments but gained confidence in and an understanding of the value of segmentation. Participants also learned how to apply segmentation techniques in their own locality. Each workshop included an overview tailored to the regions attending the workshop.

The project also included training for some audience development agency staff in the use of qualitative research techniques and segmentation data.

Key learning

  • 75 per cent of workshop participants said they had little or no previous knowledge of the Arts Audiences Insight model
  • many of the participants expressed surprise at the narrow definition of 'the arts' held by representatives of the segments
  • representatives of the audience segments living in different part of the country have different experiences so recruitment needs to be local
  • the mixed event format, use of video clips and co-creation activities with members of the public was exciting for delegates and could be usefully replicated
  • use of an external recruitment company was an effective way of securing segment representatives
  • there was more demand for improved understanding of the segments than for strategies on how to reach them as it was felt these could be developed using the knowledge gained through the workshops

Project evaluation by Polski Lynch