What allows Reach Advisors: Museums R+D to develop our insights? Deep research with both museum goers and individuals who don’t visit museums. Through a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods, we are constantly going into the field to learn more, probe deeper, and test hypotheses, both our own and those of our member museums.
- National survey of museum goers. Each year, with member museum input on the research agenda for the year, Museums R+D staff will develop an online survey, to be disseminated by member museums via email lists, social media, and any other method they choose to reach their audiences. Because the aggregate results of all of our member museums are in the many thousands, we are able to do deep segmentation based not only on demographic and life stage characteristics, but also personal motivations, preferences, and characteristics that cut across demographics.
- National survey of the general public. It is just as important to understand why individuals do not visit museums often, or at all. Through surveys of the general population, we’ll learn more about perceptions of museums from different segments of the broader public, what alternatives some likely museum-goers pursue instead of museums, and why museums are not even on the radar screen for some audiences that museums should be able to convert.
- Historical Benchmark Studies. Over the past decade, Reach Advisors has accumulated extraordinarily deep datasets from museum-going households. With nearly 150,000 museum-going households surveyed, this unmatched accumulation of museum-specific data represents a vast amount of intellectual capital, all of which is brought to bear in all of our work, including Museums R+D.
The Museum Panel™ . A national qualitative panel of museum goers and non-museum goers drawn from survey respondents across the country, these individuals are asked to participate in a series of in-depth questions based on the research agenda for the year. We have extensive experience running online panels for museums, and find they are an excellent methodology for engaging individuals in deep conversations about museums, often uncovering hidden motivations and preferences that are difficult to articulate using other research methodologies.
Insights from Reach Advisors’ entire team on external trends relevant to museums, including insights from our work in the corporate and government sectors. Reach Advisors does not just work in museums, but has a large portfolio of clients in a number of different sectors ranging from tourism, economic development, municipalities, real estate development, etc. This deep exposure to the broader environment provides context and insights not commonly found from within the museum sector, but still extremely important to the future of museums. We flag the most relevant trends and share them with member museums in our publications.
Special projects and experiments. While surveys and panels are immensely useful tools in our toolbox, they are not the only ones. When the research agenda includes issues that are best served by other tools in our research toolbox, we’ll bring them out in the form of special projects and experiments. The sky is the limit for what this entails, but our member museums will be the first to be provided the opportunity to test these projects and experiments.
Analysis of Relevant Government Data Sets (e.g., Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, American Time Use Survey). From how Americans spend their time to participation rates in the arts, the US government collects massive amounts of data, some of it directly relevant to museums. We regularly deploy our crack analytics team to plumb the depths of relevant data sets for our corporate and governmental clients, and are now doing so on behalf of museums.
Economic and Behavioral Demography. While we do constantly turn to the US Census Bureau for the most recent estimates on population shifts in the US and the communities our member museums serve, simple population shifts are only the tip of the iceberg. We go much deeper, mining microdata to build projections about the future, especially around economic and behavioral shifts. Deploying incisive analysis, we suss out how demographic shifts do, and do not, affect educational attainment, health and well-being, and wealth and income from population segment to population segment. We then build models to project how those demographic shifts affect behavioral shifts . . . including leisure time and lifelong learning at museums.