Engaging with high-quality culture, however broadly defined, is Essence’s primary concern. They’ve engaged with the arts before: they’re operating in a familiar world, they speak the language, and they understand the terrain. They’re therefore confident, knowledgeable and don’t see popularity as a signifier of quality. As a result, they can sometimes be dismissive of things they believe to be too populist or unsophisticated.
The segment is called Essence because culture is essential to their very being. They’re the one segment for whom art and culture isn’t just something they do, it’s a fundamental part of who they are. It’s the fibre of their character. If you were to take culture away from them, it would be like taking oxygen away from them. They can’t imagine their life without it.
For Essence, culture is a way of exploring the world. Art imitates life. For them, there’s an important intellectual aspect to seeing, comprehending and responding to an artist’s take on the world. But Essence also find experiencing art (or, say, touching the stones of a historic building or standing in the shadow of the Balawat Gates at the British Museum) a deeply emotional, even spiritual, experience in its own right. Essence want to be moved and ultimately taken to an altered state, and they have the knowledge and confidence to seek out experiences that can do just that.
When choosing what to say and do, Essence are primarily concerned with quality. More than any other segment, Essence often choose what to do based on the credentials of the creative or curatorial teams and their chosen approach to direction, staging, or interpretation. They might return to familiar, favourite approaches, or might seek out a new approach that gives them new ideas, new perspectives, or the chance for genuine surprise.
Importantly, they expect to discern for themselves whether something is up to their required standards. Essence view marketing as for other people who need it more than they do. They’re so fiercely independent, they almost make a virtue out of not being influenced. They might even enjoy not liking something everybody else likes, a way of not following the crowd and succumbing to popularism. ‘I don’t care if everyone else likes it, I don’t like it’
Essence may seem to be a, if not the, core cultural audience. However, they’re not acquiescent or natural joiners. If they do join a scheme, it will often be because membership is a pay gate between them and what they need – tickets or early seat selection. The principal way they initially bond with an organisation is through access to the artist or artistic staff, or through privileged access to information and booking.
Essence have a singular personal agenda, but that’s not to say they can’t develop a deep affinity and connection with arts, cultural or heritage organisations. They are firm believers in the important role arts organisations play in an open society, and acknowledge that culture has room for artistic, cultural, heritage and community expression of all stripes.
While Essence prioritise arts and culture for the deep personal benefits it affords them, that’s not to say that they’ll have visited every venue or even experienced every artform. There will be Essence audiences who primarily get their ‘fix’ through museums and galleries and are less frequently found in theatres – and equally those for whom theatre is life itself and galleries a more occasional visit.
Because of their strong independence and a confidence in where to find their fix they may have given this less thought. However, they understand the intrinsic benefits of a range of artistic expression so signposts of quality and credentials will increase their likelihood of visiting or engaging with a new artform or cultural experience.
EXPRESSION are people people: committed, generous, creative and community minded.
STIMULATION love big ideas: they’re active, social, experimental thrill seekers.
AFFIRMATION like to do the right thing: they’re diligent, cautious and spend their time well.
ENRICHMENT see the present through the past: heritage, tradition, narrative and nostalgia.
PERSPECTIVE are happy in their own bubble: settled, self-sufficient, focused and contented.
RELEASE feel time poor: busy, prioritising, ambitious but seeking escape.
ENTERTAINMENT are looking for fun: leisure opportunities that are mainstream and popular.
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.