It look quite impossible to define the reasons why visitors goes to Spanish museums. There has been an increase in absolut numers from 2012 in big public institutions that seems to be an unstoppable trend which remains, however, indecipherable. The truth is that there are effective management tolos to provide some lights on that misterious things called Audience Studies, althought the incognita is the evident lack of interest of these institutions on the design, implementation and evaluation of audience-related politics despite the need thay have to find a helping analytic tool to draw a face on their potential users.
In Spain, Audience studies appeared in the eighties as an spontaneus response of the museum profesionals to the need to know the visitors profile. Most of these studies didn’t have enought cientific conditions required, but their release are are a sympthom of this new reality museums were to face.
In the nineties, the number of spanish museums which were involved in this kind of investigations, evaluations and general explorations was grown until, around 2008, the Spanish Ministery of Culture created the called Permanent Laboratory of Museum Audiences, a public institution which collect constantly and periodically, rellevant datas and informations on public museums audiences, to provide better management tools throught research, continuing training and communication.
Nevertheless, althought this growing tendence, there is no evidence of any permanent and scientific valid system thats provides updated and rellevant information in this área. The absence of specifics departments in any public museum is the indication of a difference between spanish and, e.g. londonier Tate Gallery, heading the most efficent efforts on facing this challenge when they lead the way from the marketing department, in the eighties, launching cuantitative studies to improve their marketing campaigns to a proper objetive audience.
Following with the example of Tate gallery as a pioneer in this área, we should note the study they carried out ten years ago, in 2004, which focused on cualitative indicators introducing values as motivation, emotions, and so, to get to the conclusión that traditional marketing tools was starting to get too short to face the change was happening in audiences, and in society as well. To avoid boring details, conclusions shown with an example that the same person could have different motivation everytime he or she comes to an exhibition, depending on the context, the day or the partners he or she choose as companion. And this is a radical change on the way we plan communication strategies as well as the programmes or services we offer as complementary facilities. They re-oriented their policies to define new objetives: base audiences and developing audiences.
This new fact is shown in on the actual business model core at the Tate: knowledge and comprehension of audiences is the goal for the future.
By the other hand, beside these useful audience studies, we should pay attention to new tools provided by new technologies, which are available for all-kind-of-budgets institutions and help in the same way to analyse data. The statistics provided by software such as mobile apps may help institutions to redefine targets inclouding personal profiles or interests, as well as likes and dislikes once the visitor has entered the exhibition. These kind of information is really helpful to display that face of the visitor we need to improve our communication startegies.