Museums have their own challenges just like any other organization. Some struggle to increase attendance, while others may have difficulty with visitor engagement.
Issues like these are often best addressed with a market research study. Proper research will equip a museum with data, insights, and a roadmap for improving their organization.
If you work in the arts and culture industry, perhaps you have thought about market research in the past but written it off for one reason or another. Barriers like a lack of time, resources, or support from higher-ups in the organization can seem like dealbreakers.
Museums and other local attractions should not discount their ability to conduct market research. There are numerous methodologies to fit any organization’s situation!
Why Market Research is Accessible for Museums
The good news is market research may be more accessible than you think! Even professional help from a research firm like Drive Research can accommodate the most modest of budgets or tightest of timelines.
Even better, there is nothing to lose in having an exploratory conversation about what the museum needs.
After an initial conversation, a detailed market research proposal from the research firm can provide your organization with a customized recommendation. This document should feature the objectives, research approach, design, fieldwork plan, reporting plan, timeline, and costs.
So, what exact market research offerings might be suggested? Here are three potential methodologies to assist museums depending on their distinct needs.
1. Intercept Visitor Surveys
Intercept surveys with visitors of museum facilities or events can capture specific feedback on exhibits and visitor or member experiences. These surveys are conducted in-the-moment by a trained interviewer using a tablet programmed with the questionnaire.
Visitors are typically prompted to take the survey on their way out.
The main benefit of intercept surveys is the ability to ask guests about aspects of their experience typically forgotten not long after their visit. The resulting data includes valuable information on topics such as favorite exhibits, the layout of the museum, tour guide experience, and other thoughts while attending.
2. Mystery Visits to Competitor Attractions
Mystery visits, a type of mystery shopping, are often used to develop a better understanding of other peer arts, recreation, and culture organizations in the surrounding geography.
These consist of a third-party researcher visiting a museum or event under the guise of a community member. Data such as the number of exhibits, the content of collections, community services, and membership application process may be assessed.
The findings from these mystery visits inform the sponsoring museum on how it compares to peers and how to differentiate itself among the target audiences.
Aside from conducting a mystery visit at a competitor's organization, a museum could also decide to analyze their own establishment by sending a community member to report on their experiences. This approach provides an inside and unbias perspective on how your museum or attraction engages with your members and visitors.
Here are 4 benefits of conducting a mystery shopping program.
3. Brand Equity Survey Among Stakeholders
An online survey can be a powerful tool for museums to obtain a pulse on visitors, members, donors, and the greater community with respect to their organization.
A brand equity study specifically addresses topics like:
- Brand awareness
- Motivations for visiting
- Desired activities/exhibits
- Roles in the community
A major advantage of a brand equity survey is using the initial survey results as a benchmark to understand how the dial moves for awareness, perception, organization roles, and other metrics.
This longitudinal study allows a museum to know how internal changes impact awareness and perception, as well as measuring awareness and perception changes for competing attractions.
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