Audience Atlas Malta

A closer look at Malta's cultural markets

Morris Hargreaves McIntyre’s major survey into Malta’s Culture Segments reveals significant potential to grow audiences across all art forms.  

Atlas Malta, which was commissioned by Arts Council Malta, answers the big questions: How big is the market? How much additional potential remains? Which art forms have room for growth? And how can Culture Segments help the sector accelerate this growth? 

Nine in ten in Malta are in the market for culture

The study has found more than three quarters of the Maltese adult population have attended some kind of cultural event in the past three years and a massive 90% of adults are in the market - that is, they have either visited or, if they haven’t, they’re interested in doing so. 

Whatever the art form, there is huge potential. The most popular – film or cinema – has seen 55% of the market attend within the past three years, while there remains a further 30% who can be considered potential visitors. Similarly, 43% of the culture market has been to an art gallery in the past three years, and a further 29% would be interested in doing so. 

Among the less frequently attended art forms, such as classical musicballetcontemporary dance and opera, the potential for growth is even more significant. Around twice as many people are in the potential market than within the current audience. Furthermore, this culture market has a very similar age profile to the population overall – younger people are as likely as their older counterparts to be open to persuasion when it comes to arts and culture. This has huge ramifications in terms of the potential for audience development strategies.

Culture Segments: Building relationships with Malta’s cultural audiences

All markets are a mass of endlessly diverse individuals who engage with organisations and brands for different reasons, driven by different needs. While it is too simplistic to approach the market as if it is one homogenous mass – one size does not fit all – it is equally impractical to expect to treat every single member of the audience individually. 

To understand the Maltese cultural market in a useful and practical way, MHM looked at the different segments in this market and how they might most successfully be engaged in the national cultural offer. 

Included within this is Culture Segments, the international standard market segmentation for the arts, culture, heritage and leisure sectors. It defines the current and potential market segments by their needs, wants, attitudes and motivations, providing the tools to answer the most important questions: How do we reach that potential? What should we say to them when we do? What parts of our offer should we target at which segments? 

Malta's Culture Segments

The eight Culture Segments in the market for arts, culture, heritage and leisure are named to reflect what they hope to get out of engaging with the arts. Culture Segments is based on people’s core cultural values, giving insight into why each segment would like art in their lives; what benefits they perceive it to offer; how they feel their lives will be improved by it.

We haven’t tried to simply explain, predict or describe current patterns; instead, we’ve set out the drivers to influence and change those patterns. This means messages and marketing can be crafted for a specific segment that will resonate with them and increase their likelihood to respond. It also enables us to identify which media channels and information sources they are most likely to use – meaning budgets can be focused where they will generate the most return.

The largest segment in Malta (24%) is the Expression segment. They prize inclusivity and shared experiences and will favour organisations who demonstrate the same values and demonstrate a warm welcome for all. Getting behind the scenes, the chance to see costume displays or even turn their own hand to creativity will all be welcomed. They believe that everyone has something to bring to the experience and that no one should be left out.

8% of the Malta market is in the Essence segment. They are leaders rather than followers and are confident in their own tastes. This means they don’t like feeling sold to with overt marketing pitches. Rather, they need assurance of high quality and simple information to help them select what they’d personally find the most rewarding.

The Stimulation segment (8%) is an active group who live life to the full, looking for new experiences and challenges. They are open to a wide range of experiences, from culture to sports and music, but like to be at the cutting-edge of everything they do. Consider unusual settings or juxtapositions and promote things as the best kept secret so they can enjoy being ahead of the curve. However, no spoilers, please – give them enough to hook them but leave some intrigue and discovery for when they get there.

Although Stimulation and Essence make up smaller proportions of Malta's cultural market, they are very engaged, interested and adventurous segments making up a significantly greater number of visits than their relative sizes represent. These two segments make a strong choice for targeting.

Accounting for 8% of the market is the Affirmation segment, who tend to see cultural engagement for both enjoyment and their development. They have an adventurous spirit and are very open to most art forms, but make careful choices between all available options. Full disclosure of every detail is required, allowing them to see what they are letting themselves in for. Reviews and star ratings will play a significant role in assuring them they have picked the best option.

Those in the Enrichment segment (14%) typically have a mature outlook on life and like spending their leisure time close to home. They have established tastes and enjoy culture that links into their own interests but may still need some coaxing to visit. We more commonly see them in the potential markets including literature, museums, historic sites and plays than as current attenders. Opportunities to try before they buy, details to help them plan their itinerary and evidence of experience will indicate to Enrichment that this is for them.

The Perspective segment (12%) is settled, fulfilled and home-oriented. A self-sufficient segment with personal passions, they are not looking to others - or institutions - for fulfilment. Their underlying spontaneous nature and desire to learn provides a focus for engaging with arts and culture, but they engage on their own terms.

21% of the market is in the Entertainment segment. Their occasional forays into culture are usually for spectacular, entertaining or blockbuster events. Cultural institutions are only likely to successfully target the Entertainment segment when they have big title, star cast productions.

Malta’s smallest segment is Release (5%). This segment tends to have busy lives and while they used to enjoy arts and culture, other priorities have taken over. Consequently, they feel they have limited time and resources to enjoy arts and culture, although they claim they would like to do more. 

The Audience Atlas Malta report contains full details how each segment engages with each art form and pen portraits to give full and rich understanding of the segments’ motivations and needs – and how to reach and develop them. It covers the whole market, so as well as transforming our view of existing audiences, it should help those working in arts and culture to broaden out, engage and delight more people.    

Which Culture Segment are you? It takes less than a minute to find out .

Jo is a founding Director of Morris Hargreaves McIntyre and specialises in strategic planning...

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