Using psychographics to change the demographic profile of your audience

We know psychographic segmentation has real impact

Anyone familiar with MHM will know we strongly advocate for a psychographic approach to segment audiences rather than demographics. 

The reason for this is simple: demographics don’t determine how you think or feel about culture. Not all young people want the same experience. The motivations of people who identify as Asian are, of course, hugely varied and diverse. And there isn’t one way to attract families.

But demographics are how we monitor our progress

Still, we absolutely recognize that this doesn’t mean demographics aren’t important. We must be sure our audiences reflect the world we live in.

Demographics is how we can monitor if we are inclusive and relevant to all. Reaching new, different and more diverse audiences, is on the minds of all cultural organizations. 

We often get asked about how psychographics and demographics come together:

'What segment should I target to reach young people?’ 
‘We know Black/African American identifying people are under-represented in our audience, can Culture Segments help us to do something about it?’
‘Which is the ‘family’ segment?

The short response is: it depends. So, let’s have a go at the longer response.

Using psychographics to better understand the audience you want to reach

All demographics groups are found in all eight Culture Segments. And that’s intentional, because the segments are based on deeper values and motivations. 

To use Culture Segments to connect with a specific demographic, the question isn’t ‘which is the young segment?’ but ‘which segment should we be targeting in order to engage with the young people we are not current reaching’.

Before going into segment strategies, it is of course important to note that there are other factors at play. 

The offer needs to be relevant:
 If you don’t have family-friendly facilities or programs, family groups aren’t going to visit, no matter what the message. 

And we know representation is key
: if the stories you are telling or voices you are platforming are largely from the white, male perspective it’s going to be harder for diverse audience to believe your offer is aimed at them.

Helping ‘Museum A’ reach a different audience

Let's illustrate with an example.

We recently published a new Audience Atlas in Washington DC, giving us a representative picture of the city’s adult population by cultural interest, age, gender, educational attainment and race/ethnicity. And, of course, by their Culture Segment

After seeing the data, a DC-based Museum (for confidentially reasons we’ll call them Museum A) asked us a variation on the questions above. 

1. Identify the challenge

Audience Atlas showed Museum A’s visitors were more likely than average to be older and white. We know this is a familiar scenario for many museums. 

Digging deeper, we discovered the main reason Museum A wasn’t attracting younger, diverse audiences was that these groups didn’t know the museum existed. 

The challenge therefore was for Museum A to get on the radar of a different demographic - and invite them in. 

This is where Culture Segments messaging is useful; by tapping into mindsets, it has a much greater chance of resonating with the right audiences than a generic ‘young person’ message or similar.

2. Set strategies for primary and secondary target segments


Raising awareness

Expression
 is DC’s dominant Culture Segment across all age groups - and is also the largest segment in Museum A’s unaware market. 

For return on investment, Expression was a great choice for a primary target to raise awareness with.

Reaching younger audiences

In general, younger audiences are no more likely to be in any particular segment. But when we looked specifically at the young audience who were unaware of Museum A, but still in the market for the kinds of experiences Museum A offered, Stimulation stood out. 

We advised Museum A that they could grab the most attention from young people with Stimulation messaging.

Reaching Black or African American audiences 

We applied the same approach when analysing the Audience Atlas data on race and ethnicity. For example, the Affirmation segment was over-represented among those who identified as Black or African American and were unaware of Museum A.

If growing the audience with Black or African American audiences is the goal, Affirmation messaging would likely have the most impact.

3. Working to build sustainable, meaningful relationships

We do want to acknowledge that it’s not simple and it’s not a quick fix. 

Creating genuine diversity in your audience is a long-term strategy. It’s not just about attracting new audiences but building relationships that are lasting and mutually beneficial. 

Again, however, psychographics can be incredibly valuable: ensuring you can understand and deliver an experience that truly reflects what your audiences are seeking on a deeper level.

Find out more

Get in touch with Lorna if you want to find out more about using psychographics to reach different demographic groups. 

Learn more about Culture Segments or find out your segment here.


Lorna is a Senior Consultant and heads our USA team. She has extensive experience on both sides of...

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