Who are they?
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.
What role does culture play for them?
The segment is called Essence because culture is essential to their very being. They're the one segment for whom art and culture isn’t just something they do, it's a fundamental part of who they are. It's the fibre of their character. If you were to take culture away from them, it would be like taking oxygen away from them. They can't imagine their life without it.
What do they get out of it?
For Essence, culture is a way of exploring the world. Art imitates life. So, there is an intellectual aspect in seeing an artist's take on the world, pondering that and responding to it. But the actual experience of art is also deeply emotional, if not spiritual. Essence want to be moved and ultimately taken to an altered state. Essence feel confident that they can access art and culture and achieve a deep engagement with it very quickly.
Essence are typically confident, experienced and knowledgeable. They've seen lots of other art before. They understand how it works. Essence can discern the subtle difference between different things – they’ve seen familiar approaches – or may be genuinely surprised by the way it's been done. But they have an appreciation for the way the art is made and they're able to access the underlying ideas and context.
What influences their choices?
Essence’s primary concern in choosing what to see and do is quality. And they know what quality looks like, because they've seen it elsewhere. Based on the credentials of the creative team and approach, they expect to discern for themselves whether something is or isn’t up to their required standards.
Essence view marketing as for other people who need it more than they do. They are far less likely than the other segments to read marketing copy, so extended prose for their benefit could be a wasted effort. They're so fiercely independent, they almost make a virtue out of not being influenced. They might even quite enjoy not liking something everybody else likes. It's a way of not following the crowd and not succumbing to popularism. ‘I don't care if everyone else likes it, I don't like it’
Building relationships with them
Essence may look, to all intents and purposes, to be a core cultural audience. However, they're not acquiescent or natural joiners. While you might command their respect, they don't particularly feel the need to be communally engaged. If they do join a scheme it will often be because membership is a pay gate between them and what they need - tickets or early seat selection.
Essence have a singular personal agenda. That’s not to say they can't develop a deep affinity and connection. They are also believers in the important societal role arts organisations to play. They think it important to allow access to many different kind of artistic expressions and to all citizens and this will include involving the community in creative endeavours.
The principal way they would bond with an organisation is through access to the artist, or artistic staff or privileged access to information and booking.
If they don't attend?
While Essence prioritise arts and culture for the deep personal benefits it affords them, that is not to say they will have visited every venue or even experienced every art form. There will be Essence audiences who primarily get their fix through museums and galleries and are less frequently found in theatres – and equally those for whom theatre is life itself and galleries a more occasional visit.
Because of their strong independence and a confidence in where to find their fix they may have given this less thought. However, they understand the intrinsic benefits of a range of artistic expression so signposts of quality and credentials will increase their likelihood of visiting.
Downloadable description of the Essence Culture Segment and how to reach them.