While Sweden did not go into a full lockdown at the height of the Covid pandemic, gatherings of 50 or more people were banned. Swedes continued to meet in small groups and at safe distances but Stockholm’s state museums had to close their doors temporarily.

By early June, Stockholm museums were beginning to plan their re-opening. Several MHM clients in Stockholm commissioned us to provide quick, actionable insights and recommendations to help them re-open smartly and with audiences in mind. We designed a 10-minute population survey and sent it to adults in the Stockholm museum market.

Stockholm findings: Government trust was high

MHM has conducted a number of Covid re-opening surveys in different geographical territories. The most stand-out difference between different populations is the level of trust they have for their government.

Our re-opening surveys found people in the Stockholm museum market were most trusting of their government’s Covid advice (46%) whilst San Francisco (19%) and the UK (17%) had little faith in their government’s approach to safety. 

Despite being relatively trusting in the government’s approach, those in the Stockholm museum market still wanted to make up their own mind when it came to returning to venues. Being reassured that there would be restrictions on the number of visitors in the building was the top priority for that decision-making.

Returning audiences seek joy and connection

When we tested audiences’ motivations for returning to Stockholm museums there was an overwhelming commonality across audiences: two thirds wanted to experience fun and spend quality time with friends and family.

Unusually, this was relatively consistent across the different Culture Segments, who tend to engage with culture for quite different reasons.

The pandemic had heightened everyone’s need for social connection and levity. To attract visitors back, we advised the museums to consider how they could deliver on this by creating celebratoryjoyful shared experiences to mark a return to normal life. 

We counselled venues against being apologetic and instead suggested they focus on how museums could help to bring people together again. As a result, Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armouries) created this video which perfectly balanced the fun, safe and personalised messaging. We would really recommend watching – you don’t need to speak Swedish to see how they’ve turned a difficult situation into a fun one!

The response to the video has been very positive:

  • “You really have a winning concept and have made the best of an unpleasant situation.”
  • “The next time I visit Stockholm a visit to you is a ‘must’!”

Decision to return is framed by inner-self

When trying to understand why people will return to museums, and what they hope to get from a visit, demographics have only got us so far. We used needs-states modelling, behavioral psychology and our own Culture Segments system to predict how the Stockholm museum market will return after reopening.

What we found was that, generally, the museum market was willing to conform to the rules – 63% had high levels of conformity – but the level of risk people were willing to take and their resilience to change was divergent across different audiences.

Interestingly, we also found that people’s eagerness to return to museums sometimes outweighed their nervousness.

We mapped these two opposing pulling powers – risk/resilience and eagerness to return – against each other to show how difference audiences were responding to return:

  • Some audiences – those in the Expression and Affirmation segments – were very eager to return to museum but needed to be reassured that it is safe to return.
  • Other, less risk-averse segments – Stimulation and Perspective – had no worries about returning but they just needed to be reminded why they should visit museums
  • Those in the Entertainment and Enrichment segments were going to hold back from returning until the pandemic was over

This mapping is helping Stockholm venues to develop and prioritise strategies to target those audiences most likely to return first. MHM’s key recommendation was to reopen with Stimulation and Expression in mind.

Re-opening should be a celebration that generates excitementintrigue and fun while showcasing the care and attention that staff are investing into venues for visitors’ return.

As the Stockholm museums begin to welcome people back, they will use our Visitor 360 rolling research to evaluate the experiences of those who return.  

Image Credits: 
Photo by Alina Kovalchukon Unsplash