We’re a 170-year-old organisation but before 2015 we knew very little about our audiences.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Why use segmentation?

In an ideal world, we’d speak to everyone

Everyone’s different. Everyone has different needs when it comes to engaging with art, culture, heritage, or history. Every voice, every story, matters. If money, time (and, indeed, practicality) was no object, cultural organisations would speak to everyone in the market to find out exactly what would encourage them to visit and engage with their offer, both now and in the future. Armed with this knowledge, you could craft individual messages, positioned perfectly, to draw them in.

But practicality is paramount

Obviously, no one does this. It’d be prohibitively expensive, as well as impractical and unnecessary. But without some degree of differentiation, we run the risk of treating all audiences, all visitors, all consumers, exactly the same: as regressive an approach as it is crude.

Segmentation is the pragmatic solution

Segmentation, which splits audiences or consumers into different groups based on a variety of factors, offers ‘mass personalisation’: practical, affordable, useful and usable. Segmentation systems are now adopted by many hundreds of arts, cultural, heritage and cause-led organisations across the globe. Culture Segments is the segmentation system designed by MHM specifically to meet the needs of the international arts and cultural sector.

What makes Culture Segments different?

A deep-seated values-based system

Some systems segment audiences or consumers by demographics (if you live in this postcode [zipcode] you’re more likely to visit A, buy B or engage with C), others by lifestage (if you’ve got children under 5 you’re more likely to do X; if you’re retired you’re more likely to buy Y) and others by behaviour (if you’ve done Z in the past you’re more likely to do Z again in the future, or could maybe be persuaded to do A).

MHM’s Culture Segments differentiates people not by where they live, or how old they are, or how many times they’ve booked to see the ballet in the past. Instead, we use people’s deep-seated values and mindsets to help our clients understand their motivations for engaging with arts and culture. Once you understand these, you can craft messages that really resonate. You can build a relationship with people, and take them on a journey with you. You can encourage attendance, broaden your reach, deepen engagement with your offer, and influence behaviour.

Culture Segments, as a psychographics-based system that taps into shared human values to speak to individual human needs, is a system that is both universal and personal.

As applicable to the wider market as it is to current attenders

Culture Segments is a universal system, based on universal, human values and mindsets. For this reason, it works when segmenting the potential market (those that haven’t yet been to an organisation or venue) as well as current attenders. It doesn’t differentiate between those that have or have not yet visited your organisation, as humans don’t fundamentally change their nature after a cultural encounter (although we firmly believe that arts and culture do have the power to change lives!). If you want to grow your audience or attract different audience groups to your ‘usual suspects’, then Culture Segments can help you do that.

Designed specifically to meet the needs of the international cultural sector

There are a lot of segmentation systems out there: some off-the-shelf and cheaper (and usually based on demographics or postcodes [zipcodes]); others bespoke and more expensive (and often based on mindsets or behaviours). In 2010, MHM recognised that off-the-shelf demographics-based systems weren’t working for the cultural sector: arts attendance is deeply discretionary; driven by who we are as humans, not where we live or what we earn as consumers. So we decided to do something about it. Culture Segments – built using representative large-scale datasets of international cultural audiences’ needs, values and preferences – was born: a values-based system designed specifically with the needs (and budgets) of the international arts and cultural sectors in mind.

Works across your organisation, internally as well as externally, in a unified ecosystem

Culture Segments works brilliantly for marketing departments and comms teams: helping you prospect for and reach new audiences and craft resonant messaging that will draw them in. But unlike demographics-based systems that target using postcodes, Culture Segments also gives you the tools to engage people once they’re through the door. Interpretation, membership, fundraising, visitor services and retail teams can use Culture Segments insight to create experiences and offers that meet your audiences’ deep-seated needs, engage them fully, encourage repeat attendance and build both loyalty and long-lasting relationships. Culture Segments not only provides a shared external language for the international cultural sector, it also provides a shared internal language for individual arts organisations to talk about, understand, and meet the needs of their audiences.

Indeed, internally-focused curators, creatives and developers often remark to us that Culture Segments is the first system they’ve worked with in which they can see themselves. It’s credible and resonant for everyone, right across an organisation – with a reach far beyond the marketing department.

Meet the Segments


ESSENCE are core cultural visitors: discerning, confident, independent and arts-essential.

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EXPRESSION are people people: committed, generous, creative and community minded.

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STIMULATION love big ideas: they’re active, social, experimental thrill seekers.

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AFFIRMATION like to do the right thing: they’re diligent, cautious and spend their time well.

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ENRICHMENT see the present through the past: heritage, tradition, narrative and nostalgia.

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PERSPECTIVE are happy in their own bubble: settled, self-sufficient, focused and contented.

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RELEASE feel time poor: busy, prioritising, ambitious but seeking escape.

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ENTERTAINMENT are looking for fun: leisure opportunities that are mainstream and popular.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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    Get Started with Culture Segments

    We offer training to use Culture Segments in your programming and product development, your services, your brand and your communications. Ultimately, we can build completely bespoke Culture Segment profiles for your organisation. If you want to fully understand your existing audiences and to reach out to new ones, you need Culture Segments.