We can no longer rely solely on demographic-based targeting. We can’t treat audiences as a single homogeneous group. Given that we also can’t reach each person individually, the concept of developing segmented audiences allows us to better understand behavioral patterns and psychographic motivations of like-minded individuals.
We aspire to:
Build on the Smithsonian’s unique strengths to engage and inspire more people, where they are, with greater impact.
We work for:
The increase and diffusion of knowledge.
These are personality traits that give life to our brand:
We stay true to the Smithsonian’s purpose to increase and diffuse knowledge.
We connect the dots so the public doesn’t have to.
We inspire confidence in our audience.
We reflect an understanding of audience needs and interests.
We’re smart and accessible.
We genuinely enjoy sharing information with others.
Members of the Expression segment actively pursue life and place a high value on their free time. They are open to different experiences, cultures, and idea, and their cultural consumption is broad and frequent, making them one of the most highly culturally active segments.
Arts and culture are key elements of their lifestyle and a means of self-expression, a way of connecting with like-minded individuals and fulfilling their need for a sense of community.
They are receptive to new ideas and have a wide range of interests including culture, learning, and nature. They don’t like hierarchies or exclusivity—all cultural experiences are valid to them and often no experience is more worthwhile than another.
This segment likes experiences to be authentic, and they enjoy opportunities to understand the creative process. They tend to respond to opportunities to participate and are most likely to have taken part in a wide number of artistic activities.
Actively engaged and well networked
Although they like adventure, innovation, and discovery, members of the Expression segment like to know what they’re letting themselves in for and are therefore receptive to reviews and recommendations. Expressions like to feel part of a crowd and enjoy shared experiences, so offering an opportunity for dialogue and discussion appeals.
Their role in their communities means they are a valuable source of advocacy—Expressions love to share, so when they learn something, they tell everyone. Membership schemes and participatory events can be a useful way to maintain a dialogue with Expressions and secure their support and recommendation.
Affirmations often lean toward brands as assurance to help them choose the best option. Affirmations welcome culture as a way of enjoying quality time with friends and family while at the same time improving themselves. This segment is interested in less traditional art forms and large, mainstream events and activities; the latter offers a low-risk means of satisfying their varied needs.
Seeking valid, worthwhile experiences
Arts and culture provide a means for Affirmations to validate themselves with their peers. This segment cares what others think about them, and, as a result, want to be seen as engaging with cultural activities, not just popular entertainment.
They view arts and cultural organizations as a resource providing them with enjoyment and education while offering an environment for spending quality time with others—in other words, a form of “wholesome leisure.”
They are inclined to be regular visitors to a small number of cultural organizations; ones they know from experience can meet their needs.
Conscientious decision makers
Affirmations want enjoyable quality time with others, but they also seek self-improvement. They need marketing to help them work out the “best” option, so they can be sure they are doing the right thing. Cultural institutions must clearly articulate the benefits affirmations will get from engaging with them, not just the features of an event.
Affirmations often research their visits carefully, so an organization’s messaging should demonstrate its value by offering a more worthwhile way of having a fun time with others.
Affirmations want to be viewed as “cultural consumers.” Organizations can capitalize on this by offering easy methods for sharing content online.
Stimulations pride themselves in being ahead of the curve. “Do something different” is a maxim for life. They are naturally curious and open to a wide range of experiences. Their interest is particularly piqued by experiences that are out of the ordinary or conversation starters.
Adventurous and in the know
Stimulations seek a varied and entertaining life of novelty and challenge—hence the varied array of art forms they engage with and the level of risk they are willing to take. As well as being driven by curiosity, Stimulations enjoy the social experience of attending events and like to ensure they remain the ones “in the know” within their peer group.
As innovators and early adopters, they are not guided by the opinions of others. Rather, they are keen to break away from the mainstream, and they are at the head of the pack in finding out about new events and activities. Their strong sense of adventure and desire to stand out from the crowd constantly encourages them to try new things, even if it means going out on their own.
Aligning with quirky, unusual brands
Stimulations look for activities and brands that reflect their own self-image. They pride themselves in being ahead of the curve and will respond to clever, quirky, or “cool” marketing and design. Their early-adopter nature can also make them good brand ambassadors. Stimulations can see marketing as an art form in itself. They enjoy and appreciate “cool” marketing and could help it “go viral” for arts organizations.
While they keep an eye out for what’s on, they will be faced with lots of “similar” options. Their interest will be piqued by features that stand out as unusual, experimental, or with an interesting premise or hook.
Arts and culture are an incredibly important part of life for members of the Essence segment. They will always make time for cultural experiences, and their appetite for culture takes them to a wide range of venues. The Essence segment is discerning and well-informed. Their cultural consumption is a source of self-fulfillment and a means for experiencing life.
Confident, sophisticated, inner-directed
The Essence segment often steers clear of the mainstream.
Essences praise quality and artistic integrity above all else, actively avoiding works they perceive to be amateur or populist. They enjoy discovering little-known names and will pursue their artistic interests as a priority.
They pride themselves on the breadth and sophistication of their tastes, and they particularly enjoy activities they consider to be “intellectual.”
Essences are arts advocates. They recognize the importance of supporting the arts at a personal and political level and tend to be the segment most likely to make financial donations to cultural organizations.
Pro-active and independent consumers
Engaging Essences is, on the surface, not difficult. Culture is not what they do—it is part of who they are—so they are proactive in keeping themselves updated on the arts scene. However, they are fiercely independent. They take pride in liking things that are outside of the mainstream.
Rather than attempting to sell to them—they inherently mistrust and reject overt marketing speak—organizations should provide them the tools that help them filter their options. Allowing this segment to seek information themselves is most effective.
This is how we talk:
We are more than a museum.
We are the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex.
Ex: We are an active institution of more than 22,000 people across 19 museums, nine research centers, 21 libraries, and the National Zoo.
We are relevant and accessible.
We are opening new doors, analyzing big questions, and sharing stories with you.
Ex: We research the impact of invasive species to help solve environmental challenges.
We are active.
To better understand the world and our place in it, we are on the ground in more than 140 countries researching, conserving, designing, and educating.
Ex: We inspire hope in underrepresented communities by training them to protect and recover their cultural heritage in the face of crisis.