Here are the profiles that cultural organizations need to see.
Did you know that US millennials who visit cultural organizations tend to be online shoppers, are 4.3x more likely to have a college degree than the average American, and dine out more than twice per week?
Let’s talk about the top attributes of people who attend cultural organizations – such as museums, zoos, aquariums, symphonies, theater performances, botanic gardens, and historic sites. At IMPACTS, we call these folks high-propensity visitors, and they are the people who have the demographic, psychographic, and behavioral attributes that indicate an increased likelihood of attending a cultural organization. They are the people who actually attend or express a strong interest in attending these institutions.
This week’s article includes four new data sets. They are profiles of different kinds of likely visitors – both those who attend cultural organizations and those who express interest, but “haven’t made it yet.”
There’s a lot here!
I provide analysis to put these profiles into context, but I recommend taking some time to get down and dirty with them. The information provided here is dense and may require extra time to consider than your typical quick read. As usual, the data comes from the National Awareness, Attitudes, and Usage Study of over 108,000 adults in the US.
Put on your swimming caps, because we’re diving into some big data…
Why cut for millennials vs. non-millennials?
We decided to cut the data in this way and provide all four profiles for three reasons: First, I anticipate that if we don’t share these cuts, my bright readers will request them in an additional article. After all, our industry talks about millennials a great deal because we need to do a better job reaching them as a generational cohort.
Second, you’ll notice that there are more similarities than differences in these profiles, underscoring that “millennial talk” is often “everyone talk.” You’ll notice that inactive millennials and non-millennials share many characteristics and have more in common than folks may realize.
Third, I’ve already shared this information without the millennial/non-millennial cut. If you’d like to see the overall, national profiles of active and inactive attendees to cultural organizations, you can see them here.
We’ll be looking at millennials born between 1980 and 2000, and also those born before 1980. Generation Z (children and teenagers under 18) are not included in these profiles.
Active visitors (People who visit)
Data shows that there’s a certain type of person who has visited a cultural organization within the last two years – such as a museum, zoo, aquarium, symphony, theater performance, botanic garden, or historic site. At IMPACTS, we call these folks “historic visitors.” (I’ll call them “active visitors” in this article, for ease of our upcoming comparison with inactive visitors.)
The profile is created by combining and assessing the demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics of people who report that they have recently visited a cultural organization. Active visitors make up 16% of the US population.
Of course, not every person who visits a cultural organization fits this profile. Rather, the profile reveals characteristics prevalent in the type of person who has visited within the last two years. These are the strongest indicators of a person who has and will likely continue visit a cultural organization.
Non-millennials who visit cultural organizations
This profile includes members of Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Traditionalist generational cohorts. This combined group makes up the largest percentage of visitation to cultural organizations.
The top attribute possessed by people who have visited a cultural organization in the last two years is that they are white. No other racial or ethnic attribute makes any of the other three profiles that you are about to see. In other words – and perhaps without surprise – the single greatest shared attribute of people who visit cultural organizations is that they are NOT racially diverse.
Please note that these visitors are super-connected to the web. This is true for all likely visitor profiles. Across the board, digital engagement matters.
Millennials who visit cultural organizations
Interestingly, millennials visiting cultural organizations are even more likely to be college-educated than are older generations visiting these same institutions.
You will notice that a race or ethnicity indicator doesn’t make this list. Millennials are the most racially and ethnically diverse US generation yet. In this way, millennials are an important key for diversity and inclusion.
Here’s an interesting difference between this profile and all the rest: Active millennial visitors are more likely to volunteer time, donate to nonprofits online, and sign petitions in support of causes. None of these three characteristics make the top 15 for other profiles. This is great news! We’re attracting millennials who may care about our missions and provide support.
We millennials may not always have the best reputation, but sometimes we’re alright…
Inactive visitors (People who have interest, but do not attend)
Over 30% of people who report interest in visiting a cultural organization – such as a museum, zoo, aquarium, symphony, theater performance, botanic garden, or historic site – do not actually walk in the door.
This disparity exists because interest in visiting is different than intent to visit, and this space provides a peek into critical audiences and motivating attendance.
At IMPACTS, we called these folks “inactive visitors.” They have the demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics to indicate that they would be interested in visiting (and additionally they say that they possess an interest in doing so), but they haven’t yet been activated. Without proper targeting, they may never be.
Inactive visitors make up another 16% of the US population, and they are ripe for targeting. These are the people who we need to get to visit cultural organizations in order to evolve the historic visitor profile. Even more simply, these are the specific audiences that cultural organizations are talking about (perhaps unknowingly) when they aim to increase attendance. They are the people who could realistically be enticed to attend.
(As a note: 68% of the US does not qualify as a high-propensity visitor at all, and report little to no interest in attending cultural organizations. That makes sense, folks! Everything from Hallmark cards, to campsites, to baseball caps, to avocados have users and non-users! Of this group, 38% are unlikely visitors who would not choose to attend on their own, but would be a trooper if, for instance, grandma were in town or if the science center were the site of the office holiday party. 30% of the US is made up of non-visitors. These folks simply do not want to go to cultural organizations.)
Inactive visitors are similar to active visitors in many ways – particularly millennial active visitors. Those with interest who are not visiting are even more connected, physically active, and educated than current audiences – not less! They dine out even more often, are even more likely to travel for leisure purposes, and are even more likely to hike or ski than active visitors!
Interested non-millennials who do not visit
Even more active? Even more super-connected to the web? More diverse?
These sure sound a lot like stereotypical “millennial characteristics,” don’t they?
Remember, this profile does not include millennials. These are our non-millennial target audiences. Generally, those things that some consider to be “millennial characteristics” may actually be increasingly common characteristics in the connected era in which we live. Certainly, data shows that millennials possess certain characteristics to a greater extent, but these can serve as canaries in the coal mine for larger trends resulting not from the years in which people are born, but the years in which they are alive.
Interested millennials who do not visit
These millennials are even more educated and even higher-earners as a group than millennials who actively attend cultural organizations! One might think that these folks – especially – would already be visiting museums and performing arts organizations! Why aren’t they?!
The top reason is that their time is precious, and they simply prefer an alternative leisure activity. I will be diving into this topic and sharing data on the top millennial barriers to visitation next week.
Audience research is critical for understanding the audiences who are already attending cultural organizations, but market research shines a light on the folks who we need to start reaching in order to thrive. They aren’t in our databases, filling out onsite surveys, and may not be engaging with us on social media. When we have the data, we don’t have to guess.
….At the very least, we can direct our curiosity so that we may broaden and diversify the active visitor profile to welcome more people in the door.
Want to see the top reasons why millennials and non-millennials with interest (inactive visitors) do not attend cultural organizations? I’ll share that data next week. Don’t forget to subscribe to this site at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss it!