Twenty(ish) Good Questions About Your Markets

What benefits are they seeking when they travel to an attraction like yours?

This article is part of a series, Understanding Our Audiences, on market segmentation for interpretive planners and other visitor experience professionals. You should probably start at the beginning, here.

man gazing right 

Here are some things you probably need to know about your visitors in order to identify your market segments. Note that these are not phrased as survey questions.

  1. Where do your they live?
  2. What is their life stage (age, marital status, family composition)?
  3. What is their gender?
  4. What is their household income?
  5. What is their education level?
  6. What media do they use at home?
  7. What language do they prefer to speak?
  8. What tools do they use to plan their visit and their travel in general?
  9. What mode of transportation do they use, to visit you and to travel in general?
  10. What is their group composition when they visit/travel? (Nuclear family, extended family, friends, colleagues, tour group- homogenous, tour group-mixed, etc.)
  11. What is the main impetus for their travel? (Business, wedding, picnic, fitness/sport, relaxation, learning, etc)
  12. What time of day and year do they visit? How often do they visit you?
  13. Which of your products are they using? (Include way-finding products, basic amenities, programs, exhibits, etc.)
  14. What media do they prefer at your museum/park/aquarium/historic site?
  15. Which of your existing products meet their needs best? Least?
  16. When they are not visiting you, what attractions or destinations are they visiting?
  17. What do they know/believe about your attraction or organization now?
  18. What benefits are they seeking when they travel to an attraction like yours?
  19. Where do they donate their money and time?
  20. What is their email address, and do you have permission to contact them?

Is gender important, in this day and age? Really?

Not necessarily. Each of the above 20(ish) questions is only important if the answer helps predict real-world behaviour in relation to what you have to offer. If you are confident that your public’s needs, interests and behaviours are fully independent of their gender, than gender can be discounted. Likewise income; if your research shows that your wealthier markets have essentially the same needs and desires from you as your less wealthy, than that information isn’t important.

Gender does tend to predict behaviour, though, even in this day and age. You may find that independent adults who participate in nature-based programs, for example, skew heavily female (and educated and middle-aged.) People who participate in astronomy programming may skew younger and male. Even if your goal is to diversity your public and attract non-traditional markets, you need to know what you’re up against, demographically, from the start. Ask the question (sensitively), and see what you learn.

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