Held across three weeks each August, the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) has filled the capital's theatres and concert halls with the best music, theatre, opera and dance from around the globe for over 70 years. Plus, their community learning, engagement, and professional development programmes serve the city's residents throughout the year.
In 2020, EIF decided it was time for the organisation to become more data-led in its approach to all of its audiences - both local and visiting. They started by hiring a new team member, dedicated to data-led audience insights, who understood segmentation to be key to success. The team selected Audience Spectrum for the task, thanks to its flexibility and benchmarking ability against both wider arts engagement across Scotland, and the whole UK population.
From 2021 EIF began using their Audience Spectrum License to tag bookers and survey responders. This allowed them to properly profile and evaluate their audiences, forming the cornerstone of campaign planning across all of the organisation's communications. The big trial of the success of the new segmentation approach came with rolling out its insights across the summer 2022 festival...
Some training in the fundamentals of Audience Spectrum was required to make the test exercise worthwhile, getting everyone internally speaking the same language when it comes to audiences:
- The Audience Agency ran team-wide online sessions, sharing expertise and take-away resource packs for reference.
- They then walked the EIF audience engagement specialists through understanding their existing ticketing audiences in more detail, using selected Audience Finder Data Tools (now Audience Answers).
Armed with the basics, the EIF team realised that still more granular analysis would give their campaigns the best chance of success:
- They decided to integrate an Audience Spectrum License within their Spektrix ticketing system, to gain precision analysis at a household level.
- Combine this with postcode-level tagging of their existing mailing lists and over 5,000 respondents to the EIF 2022 festival survey, and a very detailed picture began to emerge.
Upon analysis, EIF found the three most dominant segments amongst their own audiences mimicked the typically most highly culturally engaged groups across the UK. Namely: Metroculturals, Commuterland Culturebuffs and Experience Seekers.
Drilling down, they identified some core differences in how these three most highly engaged segments were responding to their offer:
This especially dominant and generally younger and more artistically adventurous group varied more in its habits than the other two more established and traditional leaning segments.
- 50% of Experience Seekers attending the festival were aged under 45, and a whopping 83% live within Edinburgh itself.
- That said, at subsegment level, E2s - who tend more to live elsewhere in Scotland or the UK - were more likely than E1s to be visiting the festival for the first time, although both groups featured highly in the new attendee figures.
- They also backed up their variety-loving reputation by citing being too busy with other festivals and arts events as their chief potential barrier to attendance.
- However, Experience Seekers rated the festival's success in achieving its environmental responsibility, diversity and inclusion aims particularly highly, so pushing these credentials may be key to encouraging their future attendance.
Metroculturals and Commuterland Culturebuffs
Looking closely again at subsegments, age and location proved the biggest differentiator for both Metroculturals and Commuterland Culturebuffs.
- As with Experience Seekers, Metroculturals were similarly likely to be splitting their time between the EIF and attending other Edinburgh-based festivals, particularly the Book Festival at over 50%.
- Both M1s and C1s were significantly older than other high engaged subsegments: 85% of M1s are aged 45+, whilst 70% of Commuterland Culturebuffs were over 55 years of age, mainly falling into the C1 subsegment category.
- M1s and C1s are also both more likely to be Edinburgh residents (M1 80%, C1 68%),
- All of which aligns with the relative affluence that defines these subsegments.
- Overall, Metroculturals and Commuterland Culturebuffs were less impressed with the EIF's demonstration of its environmental responsibility, diversity and inclusion credentials, so the team feels that more work needs to be done communicating these values to this audience base.
Trialling applying Audience Spectrum segmentation to the 2022 festival audiences was a successful part of EIF's ongoing evaluation work with Clair Gilchrist of CG Research. There is much food for thought in the findings as the team looks forward to engaging audiences in future festivals.
Looking ahead to 2023, the plan is to experiment with building marketing campaigns from the off through the filtered lens of the Audience Spectrum segments (and subsegments) and monitoring the results. A crucial component in EIF's ambitious journey towards becoming a data-led and fully audience-centred organisation.
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