Encapsulating the essence of eight arts audiences
Culture Segments campaign for MHM
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Culture Segments campaign for MHM
MHM (Morris Hargreaves McIntyre) describe Culture Segments as “a powerful psychographic segmentation tool that helps arts organisations to better understand and engage with audiences”. Their algorithms identify eight distinct audience types, and they asked us to create a stunning image to encapsulate each.
If you work in the arts, you’ll know MHM and their Culture Segments tool.
With the answers to a few ingenious questions it can predict your attitudes to arts engagement, and provides insights into the ways you might respond to marketing messages.
MHM have spent two decades honing the questions and the dataset, to make it a robust and powerful tool, specifically pinpointing the attitudes of individuals within audiences (rather than relying on broad geographic or socio-demographic categories). Culture Segments has been enthusiastically adopted throughout the world – their impressive client list includes many international arts centres and visitor attractions.
Culture Segments divides audiences into eight distinct groups. For many years, the MHM team had been using a set of illustrations and colour-coding (shown above) to represent each of the groups. But it was time for a change, these people-based images were both too specifically about individual characteristics and not differentiated enough from each other.
Our starting point was a session to get to know the ‘product’. MHM’s Director Jo Taylor came to the studio and, over a long brunch, she talked us through the kind of introduction she would usually work through with a prospective or new client. The level of detail and the specific nuance of each Culture Segment (and how they respond to different marketing messages) was a fascinating insight into the whole process.
It was clear that we needed to provide bold images that could work on multiple levels. A casual glance needed to be able to capture the essence of each personality type, whilst also being detailed and sophisticated enough to sustain multiple uses without becoming trite or boring.
We worked with the MHM on a series of snappy phrases that summarised the viewpoint of each audience type. And we married those with in-situ type treatments that gave multiple cues and clues to further flesh-out that Segment’s attitudes.
Retaining but enhancing the colour palette of the existing materials was hugely important because these new images also had to serve all of MHM’s existing clients.
And, with so many international clients, the imagery had to convey messages instantly without the reinforcing words.
We were also clear that we’d work with photography rather than illustration. So, as soon as we had agreement on a set of images, we set about procuring props and commissioning a photographer.
From a commissioned neon sign and a screen-printed canvas bag, to full size wayfinding posts and bespoke letterpress books, we created and shot eight dynamic new representative images.
For the Stimulation segment we really wanted to secure permission to use Anthony Burrill’s ‘I Like it. What is it?’. It was a long shot but we’d worked with him before so we dropped him a line. He was lovely about it and even sent us a copy of the poster to use.
We worked with the wonderful still-life photography specialist Kim Lightbody. She brought a refreshing pragmatism to the whole project. She shot a lot of the images in our studio and was endlessly patient as we moved tweaked and rethought every detail.
Thanks Cog Design for being brilliant collaborators in creating MHM’s new Culture Segments visuals. We’re totally chuffed with them.
And here they are in a little more detail….
They’re ‘yes’ people – full of enthusiasm with varied and eclectic cultural tastes. Their cultural activity reflects their wide range of interests and hobbies, which often feature learning, community and nature. They’re in tune with their creative side, fun-loving and see culture as a way of broadening horizons.
Expression are ‘people’ people. They enjoy activities that help them connect with and share experiences with others. They are community minded. They like to be sure that everyone is welcome to enjoy the benefits of engaging and as such, put a high price on inclusivity.
Enrichment tend to be lovers of history with a respect for the past. They are independently minded and exert their right to be cautious. They tend to have established tastes and habits and know what they will enjoy. Fad and fashion hold no seduction. It is not that new things hold no worth, but Enrichment will look for the thread that links them to what went before.
When it comes to art and culture Enrichment veer towards things they believe to be important, have stood the test of time and command respect. They like things that talk about our identity – who we are, where we’re from.
Entertainment tend to see arts and culture as very much on the periphery of their lives. Their occasional forays into culture are likely to be for mainstream events or days out. Leisure time is for fun, and this segment is looking for entertainment and escapism – if they do attend, it will be socially motivated and their engagement is typically among the lowest of all segments.
Perspective are fulfilled, happily doing their own thing, driven by their own agenda. They are very focused on a limited number of interests they find satisfying and rewarding and have a low appetite for expanding this repertoire.
They are very self-sufficient and don’t rely on others for fulfilment. They’re unaffected by the views of others and tend to prioritise their own needs. They have a need to make their own discoveries, so it will be their desire to learn that provides a focus for any cultural engagement.
Stimulation are an active group who love adventure and live for the moment. They seek out new experiences to live a varied life. ‘Do something different’ is a maxim for life. They are all about big ideas and are looking for something out of the ordinary. But they also attend cultural events for the social experience.
Stimulation are independently minded, but aware of how they are perceived by others. They are happy to standout from the crowd if it shows them to be ahead of the curve. They don’t need things to have a proven track record before they get involved. That is not to say they dislike popularity but they aren’t drawn to the very mainstream as they like to be the ones making the discoveries.
Affirmation are perhaps the most conscientious of the segments. They make really considered, measured choices. What sometimes marks Affirmation out from the other segments is that as adults, they’re likely to have made a conscious decision to embrace more culture. They have decidedly come to the belief that engagement with culture is going to make their lives better.
Culture is an important and worthwhile activity so, like going to the gym or meeting with friends, reading a book, going to a museum or going to a play is a commitment to personal well-being that should be prioritised over a night in front of the telly. They feel that culture is a commendable pastime and are keen that they do, and are seen to do, the right thing.
The Release segment is looking for escape from the stresses of everyday life. They can feel a little under siege from all the different pressures and conflicting demands on their time. For some these conflicts may be a reality, but often being in the Release segment is more a state of mind. It is the feeling of being time-poor, rather than the actual fact of not having any time.
Essence consider the arts and culture essential. Culture is their way of exploring the world and reflecting on meaning, as well as providing deeply emotional connections; and they will experience it with or without others.
High-quality culture is their primary concern. They’ve seen lots of other art before, they have a context and they have a language. They understand how it works. They’re therefore confident and knowledgeable and don’t see popularity as a signifier of quality, so can be dismissive of things they believe to be too populist or unsophisticated.