Published on Monday 30 October 2017

Jo Taylor, Senior Consultant at Morris Hargreaves McIntyre (MHM) gives an overview of Malta’s Culture Segments recently published in the report compiled by MHM and commissioned by Arts Council Malta

All markets are composed of 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 were one homogenous mass – one size does not fit all – it is equally impractical to expect to treat every single member of the audience individually. Therefore, in order to understand the Maltese cultural market in a useful and practical way, we wanted to look at the different segments in this market and how they might most successfully be engaged in the national cultural offer.

Audience Atlas Malta answers the big questions: How big is the market? How much additional potential remains? Which art forms have room for growth? The data is collected with robust samples and is carefully weighted using local census data to ensure accuracy.

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? Ultimately, how can we reach more people and engage them more deeply?

Audience Atlas Malta reveals that more than three quarters of the Maltese adult population have attended some kind of cultural event in the past three years and nine out of 10 are in the market to do so; that is, they have either visited or, if they haven’t, are interested in doing so. This has huge ramifications in terms of the potential for audience development strategies. 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.

What is clear is that, whichever art form you are presenting, there is significant potential within the Maltese market. The most popular artform – 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 have 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 artforms, such as classical music, ballet, contemporary 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.

In order to tap into these huge potential markets we need to take a more targeted approach and look at which segments are most open to which artforms.

Meet the 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.

The largest segment in Malta (24%) is the Expression segment. They are in tune with their spiritual side accommodating a range of interests, from culture and learning to community and nature. Expression index significantly above average for current attendance of mainstream artforms, such as historical sites and museums, but less so when it comes to artforms considered specialist such as music or dance.

8% of the Malta market is in the Essence segment. These are highly active cultural consumers across a wide range of artforms. They are leaders rather than followers and are confident in their own tastes. Essence are dedicated to arts and culture; indexing above average in terms of attendance in a variety  of artforms from art galleries to musicals and literature events.

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. Those in the Stimulation segment are avid cultural attenders, demonstrating a particular inclination to live music and comedy, but typically engaged across the spectrum.

Also accounting for 8% of the market is the Affirmation segment, who tend to see cultural engagement as allowing for both enjoyment and their development. The Affirmation segment demonstrates significant current engagement with many artforms in the culture market, from intellectual trips to a historical site or museum, to more fun days out at the cinema.

Those in the Enrichment segment (14%) typically have a mature outlook on life and like spending their leisure time close to the home. They have established tastes and enjoy culture that links into their own interests and more traditional forms. This segment tends to under-index within current artform audiences, particularly those such as rock or pop music, and may require significant persuasion to encourage visits.

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. Although those in the Perspective segment can, and have, engaged with artforms in the past, they are often ambivalent towards much of the sector. This is reflected in low current attendance across a breadth of artforms, notably with film and rock or pop music, while it may also be difficult to directly influence their visit behaviour.

21% of the market is in the Entertainment segment. This tends to be conventional and contemporary, a group for whom the arts are on the periphery of their lives. Their low tolerance towards ‘culture’ compared to mainstream leisure activities make them a tough segment to attract.

Malta’s smallest segment is Release (5%). This segment tend 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.

Exploiting the Potential

With nearly one in four of the Maltese culture market in the Expression segment, there is huge potential to be gained from optimising messaging – and indeed experiences – for this segment. This segment dominates the current audience for many artforms – including museums, galleries, comedy, musicals, classical music, traditional Maltese music and opera, as well as featuring in several potential markets. Expression prize inclusivity and shared experiences and will favour organisations who demonstrate the same values and demonstrate a warm welcome for all. To fulfil your potential and reach further into the Expression market requires an organisation to consider things from their perspective and be willing to change to accommodate their needs. As well as sharing experiences, Expression welcome the chance to discuss and exchange reactions to the work they’ve seen – to hear from the artists what the performance meant to them – but also between fellow audience members. Getting behind the scenes, the chance to see costume displays or even turn their own hand to creativity will all be welcomed.

While 21% of the market is Entertainment, this segment may not reflect such high return on investment as a target. Cultural institutions are only likely to successfully target the Entertainment segment when they have big title, star cast productions. They are more likely to be found in the market for cinema than other presentation forms – even comedy and musicals do not hold big sway for this segment in Malta. Any marketing needs to compete on a commercial playing field alongside that for their other leisure pursuits.

Although Stimulation and Essence make up smaller proportions of the market, they are very engaged, interested and adventurous segments making up significantly greater number of visits than their relative sizes represent. Stimulation are driven to experience the new and the novel and are searching to add surprise and variety to their lives. They have an appetite for new ideas and are innately curious. Consider unusual settings or juxtapositions and promote things as the best-kept secret or next big thing so they can enjoy being ahead of the curve. Essence consider themselves experienced and fully equipped for most arts experiences – as long as they are of the highest quality and have integrity to them. This confidence in their own tastes 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 would personally find the most rewarding. These two segments make a strong choice for targeting. Less well penetrated markets – especially contemporary dance – also see significant room for growth in these segments.

Meanwhile the Affirmation and Enrichment segments both need some coaxing to visit, although for different reasons. Affirmation are looking to marketing to help with this conscientious decision-making. Reviews and star ratings will play a significant role in assuring them they have picked the best option. Enrichment report an interest in the more traditional and more commonly seen in the potential markets including literature, museums, historic sites and plays than as current attenders. They are far less willing to consider experimenting with jazz, contemporary dance or opera. Opportunities to try before they buy, details to help them plan their itinerary and evidence of experience and traditional roots will indicate to Enrichment that this is for them.

Audience Atlas Malta contains full details how each segment engages with each artform as well as pen portraits to give full and rich understanding of the segments’ preferences, motivations and needs – and how to reach and develop them. Culture Segments is in 17 countries where, as well as fuelling strategies with powerful insights, it provides a common language for talking about audiences that can put them at the heart of our conversations and make them central to our planning.

This blog is based on the essay in Perspectives on Cultural Participation in Malta published by Arts Council Malta.