How to go beyond demographics for arts audience development

I had a conversation with an arts center yesterday.  They mentioned that they are working with a marketing company and are busy pulling their target audience information after some research.  I was concerned that they were only going as far as to target demographics, such as age, gender, income, zip code, etc.  It is good to consider demographics, but it is even better to know the psychographics.  From Wikipedia:

Psychographic variables are any attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles. They are also called IAO variables (for Interests, Activities, and Opinions). They can be contrasted with demographic variables (such as age and gender), behavioral variables (such as usage rate or loyalty), and firmographic variables (such as industry, seniority and functional area).

When we are considering what type of person would be interested in your art, wouldn’t it be best to consider a person’s personality, values, attitudes, interests or lifestyle instead of their age, gender and income?  To me it makes perfect sense to go beyond the demographics to find the right people that will enjoy your art and become loyal audiences. Finding out the psychographics of your audiences will enable you to put more focus on who they are as people instead of simply having the data of a crowd.

In order to take the psychographics into account, I suggest that you get to know your current audiences to form a more complete picture about them.  Use surveys and focus groups and ask questions that will bring to light the personalities and preferences of your audience members.  Once you get to know your audiences, you will have a clue as to what types of people enjoy your art and who in the future you can reach out to using these psychographic variables as your guide.

I have found that psychographics lead to expanding an audience far beyond what pulling demographics can do.  If you want to build the right audience for you, I highly recommend starting to get to know your current and potential audiences as people instead of as numbers you can pull from a census report.  Go beyond the demographics, and instead of targeting the numbers, build relationships with the right people for your art.

Have a great weekend!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists


“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Filed under arts marketing, Audience Development

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