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Know Your Audience With Culture Segments

Written by Marliese Andexer 06 / 12 / 2012

In the latest evolution of audience profiling systems, Culture Segments has bought a new perspective to the way arts organisations define their audiences. At a recent AMA Marketing Planning workshop that Impact attended, Culture Segments was the hot topic of discussion.

Audience classification systems

The key questions being fired into the room included: what is the thinking behind Culture Segments and how does it differ from other profiling systems? What are its major advantages? What information is it based on? 

We decided it was time for Impact to offer its answers to these questions to pinpoint in what ways it can help to inform organisations’ communication activities. In this first article of a series to come, we shall also look at how Culture Segments compares to established geodemographic profiling systems such as MOSAIC and ACORN.

It was designed especially for cultural and heritage organisations by audience development agency Morris Hargreaves McIntyre to provide the sector with a common language for understanding audiences. The purpose of the system is to equip organisations with the means to target their audiences more accurately, engage with them more meaningfully and develop lasting relationships with them.

What data is it based on?

It was developed based on Audience Atlas UK, the most comprehensive qualitative insight survey ever completed in the UK. For this reason it can be considered highly representative, with a respondent sample of 4,500 adults with an interest in art, culture and leisure activities and events. It is also UK-wide and carefully weighted to be representative of the entire arts and culture sector.

According to Audience Atlas UK, 85% of the UK population are in the market for arts, culture and heritage participation (equivalent to £13.6 billion being spent over a 12 month period).

Culture Segments - UK population spend on arts

Culture Segments - UK population spend on arts

Its data is very relevant, measuring past and potential not just recent or ongoing audience engagement. In this way it depicts the market’s motivations, not just its behaviour. The artforms, leisure activities and heritage venues examined are also wide-ranging (for example 60 art forms are included).

By cross-analysing the lapsed, current and potential future market against their values, attitudes, media use, expenditure and behaviour, Audience Atlas UK provides a rich foundation of information.

How does it compare to other segmentation systems?

At the present time, geodemographic classification systems are the most widely used applications for measuring and predicting customer behaviour. This includes the first system ACORN (A Classification of Residential Neighbourhoods), a tool designed to identify and measure the UK population and its demands for products and services.

Experian’s MOSAIC is similarly a non-sector specific system which classifies the UK population into 15 socio-economic groups and then splits this further into 67 ‘people types’. This is based upon census data, the electoral roll and consumer surveys from 370,000 postcodes and is refreshed twice a year.  This enables organisations to understand the habits and characteristics of consumers of different artforms, styles and venues.

These geodemographic systems are defined by their ability to profile the UK population’s behaviour and leisure habits according to their demographic characteristics (age, sex, occupation etc) and geographical location.

Culture Segments on the other hand divides the population, not by shared demographic or geographical characteristics, but by their common cultural values, attitudes and behaviour.  In other words, instead of defining the individual’s behaviour and leisure habits by geographical and demographic data, cultural values are used to frame their attitudes and lifestyle choices.

The 8 Culture Segments

The 8 Culture Segments

The major factor therefore which differentiates each segment from each other is attitudinal; each segment shares a deeply-held belief about the role that the arts and culture play in their lives. In this way Culture Segments allows us to get to the heart of what motivates individuals to engage with the arts and culture, in contrast to the geodemographic models which only reveal a segment or group’s habitual leisure activities.

Watch this space to see how Impact develops its services to equip your organisation to better define, target and engage with your audiences. In the next article we’ll be taking a closer look at the benefits of Culture Segments for cultural and heritage organisation and at the individual segments themselves.

Morris Hargreaves McIntyre’s Culture Segments won the award for Best Consumer Insight at the Marketing Industry Awards. For more information visit their website here.

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