About this theme

A focus on the market segments, Dinner and a show and Family and community focused was at the heart of many of the Arts Nation pilots projects. As a pilot for a proposed national programme, several of the projects concentrated on developing an improved understanding of these segments using qualitative and quantitative methods and building capacity through the development of toolkits.

Related case studies

Understanding the customer

Developing customer focus begins with an honest assessment of how much organisations really knows about the segment it is targeting.

Qualitative research methods such as discussion workshops and mystery shopping were found to be particularly useful for adding colour to the basic outline provided by data analysis and importantly, correcting preconceptions. For example, participants in Bringing data segmentation to life were often surprised at the narrow definition of 'the arts' held by members of the public from the segments.

Expert researchers working with some organisations found that arts managers often overestimate their own skills in analysing audience data and applying the findings. The expertise residing in the audience development agencies could have an important role in helping to address this skill-gap.

Workshops with groups drawn from the segments demonstrated the importance of understanding how decisions to attend are made. For Family and community focused family dynamics were an especially important issue. Of similar importance was the issue of understanding how parties are composed, i.e. whether they include friends, work colleagues, family, etc.

Using customer data

A number of projects actively involved audiences in programming or event design. These reported very positive outcomes. More reasons to visit was a good example of this.

The support of senior management was found to be key. Data surgeries found that market and customer intelligence was used much more effectively in organisations where senior management value it and significantly underused in those organisations were managers do not recognise its value.

Geographic and spatial issues were found to be of greater significance than previously appreciated. Local knowledge relating to where people shop, work and spend their leisure time is critical. Solutions that work well in urban areas will not necessarily  be directly applicable to more rural settings.

Recruiting volunteers for mystery shopping or to participate in focus groups was found to be a significant challenge due to the need to tightly define recruitment specifications.