Using surveys for market research
5 min read

Using surveys for market research

Adopting a broader evaluation strategy is a simple way to uncover the general perception of your organisation.

Annual market research can help you gain valuable insights that enable informed business decisions. This understanding of customer needs, market trends, and the competitive landscape is essential for long term strategic planning.

Read on to gain practical tips on how to plan your own market research.

Why is market research useful?

Put simply, market research is systematic process that involves collecting data to get a clear picture of the market’s dynamics, customer needs, and competitors.

It helps with long term strategic planning.

Gathering data on the sentiment around your organisation will set you up with a dataset that can assist with strategic planning. For arts and culture organisations, most funders and stakeholders are looking for data on qualitative outcomes (such as cultural and social impact) so having a baseline of information will assist in setting future key performance indicators.

It works to build a profile of your audience.

Market research is a valuable resource for determining the profile of your audience, how often as well as the ways in which they engage with your organisation. You can ask questions about how regularly they attend arts and cultural events, what kinds of events they are interested in and also general demographics questions.

It can determine future programming.

Understanding your audience’s general interests will help you funnel investment and marketing materials into the most profitable or popular avenues. You can make accurate, data-led decisions without relying on intuition alone. You can read more information on marketing channels here →

Facilitates competitive analysis.

Market research includes analysing competitors’ strategies, strengths, and weaknesses, which can help you to differentiate yourself and establish your brand identity.

Using annual surveys for audience research

Annual surveys are advantageous for understanding broad trends over time, not linked to specific events. They provide a consistent data set that can help identify long-term shifts in consumer behaviour and market conditions.

Here are some examples of what you can include in your survey:

  • Engagement with other artforms.
    Multiple choice questions that list a range of art forms can be a great way to make data-driven decisions about programming. You can also broaden the range of questions and ask why they typically visit your local area.
  • Engagement with your organisation and venue.
    Annual surveys are a great time to ask questions about whether patrons find your venue accessible, whether the opening hours are suitable and if they have any further feedback on improvements.
  • Spending habits.
    Understanding how much your audience typically spends on things like tickets or merchandise can be helpful in building a segmentation profile.

You can use the Culture Counts Evaluation Platform to consistently gather data each year, allowing you to track your progress across multiple years.

Tips for effective market research surveys

Consider incorporating these strategies into your market research survey approach to ensure you are collecting meaningful data.

  • Frequency of surveys.
    Market research surveys are best conducted once a year, or once every two years. You can send out additional, targeted surveys that relate to specific events, programs or workshops, however these should not contain broad questions. This will also help you avoid survey fatigue.
  • Quality over quantity.
    Strategic, well-designed surveys carried out at key times (e.g., before major planning phases) can provide more value, particularly if you’re in the process of gearing up for grant applications or strategic planning. Most organisations update their strategic plan every 3, 5 or 10 years.
  • Engaging non-participants.
    Surveys should also target those who are less engaged with your organisation. You may discover an untapped market or gain an outside perspective that may bolster your future decision making.

Next steps

  • Meet with relevant staff members and revisit your existing strategic plan. Do you notice any areas in which you may have fallen short of your goals?
  • Create a timeline of when you would like your survey to go out, making note of any event/program/workshop surveys and their distribution as well.
  • Add any funding application deadlines to your timeline, if this is relevant to you.
  • Develop your annual survey – if you are a subscriber to the Culture Counts Evaluation Platform, you can send it to your client manager for proofing.
  • Determine how you will be distributing your survey, particularly to those who do not regularly engage with your organisation but may still be important to survey. Read our tips here.

Ready to start evaluating? You can contact us here to learn more.

About the author
Shelley Timms is a Client Manager at Culture Counts.