Insight into Museum Visitors

Working together to understand and build audiences through Audience Finder...

Audience Finder is a national audience data collection and development tool delivered by The Audience Agency, enabling cultural organisations to understand, compare and apply audience insight. With the introduction of the year long, museums specific strand of Audience Finder - Visitor Finder - this now includes data from museums across England.

Our tools are helping organisations to work together to explore a range of experiences with physical and virtual visitors and deliver individual insights to help support museums develop in a number of areas; from engagement work to business planning. So what have we done so far and what have we learnt about museum?

What data do we have?

Over 140 museums across England are already collecting data, which amounts to over 16,000 audience surveys so far. We have also been able to explore a raft of data sources for our culturally specific segmentation tool Audience Spectrum, including the Taking Part survey data.

Demographics & Profiles - Who are they?

From the survey responses, we can use visitor postcodes and Audience Spectrum segmentation to learn much more about who our visitors are, who potential visitor could be and their likely behaviour. Most surprisingly perhaps is that Trips & Treats are under-represented in the data so far compared to the background population.

This group have an above average propensity to attend cultural activities, particularly as a family and although this is often alongside other leisure activities, this could be an important opportunity group for the museums sector. Understanding the barriers to attend such as access to provision is important when thinking about Trips & Treats, in particular as they tend to leave in suburban areas. And they are likely to attend as a day out, often showing a preference for annual events and are led by children's needs and recommendations from friends and family.

Metroculturals on the other hand are very well represented group within Museums. This is the most culturally engaged group across all arts and culture and the group most likely to visit a museum; 80% attend at least once a year. The opportunity and challenge with this group is in building their loyalty.

Online behaviour

The Experien tool Hitwise also helps us to profile website visitors using their Mosaic segmentation model. Using this tool we have been able to understand more about digital visitors, and profiling all visitors to websites of museums in Visitor Finder we find that the largest percentage of online visitors is Aspiring Homemakers. These are younger households who have, often only recently, set up home in private suburbs which they have chosen to fit their budget. They are fairly tech savy but use the internet less for entertainment than to communicate and organise their lives.

Motivations & Attitudes - What do they think?

There are some significant differences in motivating factors for first time visitors vs repeat visitors, for example family time is clearly most important for the first time visitors, in particular finding someway to entertain or educate children. They are also more likely to be influenced by word of mouth than print, although this is still a significant driver. This is compared to repeat visitors who are more likely to be driven by wanting peace and quiet, or to enjoy the atmosphere.

Celebrating a special occasion as a strong motivating factor for all visitors, whether new to that museum or not.

What are the regional differences?

According to data from the longitudinal study, Taking Part, the percentage of people who have visited a museum at least once in the past year has increased by over 10% since 2005/6. The trend has been true across the UK, but most noticably in Yorkshire and Humberside, which has increased by almost 14%. The area of lowest growth has been the East Midlands, with growth of only 9.2%.

How to get involved

Over 140 museums are still collecting audience surveys using Audience Finder and we will continue to publish results about the overall picture of visitors across England as well as support museums to use their own findings to develop audiences individually.

Collecting audience survey data within Audience Finder is free and gives you standardised methodologies with results in an easy to use dashboard helping you to put your data in context. To find out more visit the Audience Finder dashboard or request survey set-up using this webform.