Bookshops and audience knowledge: study your visitors

in museumbookshop

Art exhibitions are events of increasing interest to the general public. The data on those held in recent years tells of more and more visitors who are interested and prepared. Art, thanks also to the new media that dedicate more and more space to it, is becoming more and more interesting for Italians and foreigners who flock to the exhibitions with prior knowledge of the subject.

Unlike in the past, museums and art exhibitions are no longer just the preserve of pensioners organised by CRAL and Dopolavoro clubs and school pupils coerced by teachers, but now every social class and age are represented and this implies a need to know the public well in order to offer the products that best suit everyone’s tastes.


The audience is changed

If in the past the audience was less attentive and generally unprepared for what awaited them, now the visual arts involve reading and personal study and the choice to visit an exhibition is dictated by a deep interest and no longer by the desire just to spend a different kind of day seeing new places.
For this reason it is necessary that the whole organisation of events changes radically, in the knowledge that this is a new audience.
A cultural event naturally generates culture and the public wants to find in the bookshop items of quality and of high aesthetic value, in line with what they have seen. We should try to maintain a high standard in our commercial offering because the public, absorbed in the beauty it has just admired, does not want to ruin the memory of what they have seen.
Before deciding on the catalogue to be exhibited, therefore, let us try to understand which audience group the organisers expect to predominate; this is essential to establish the product categories to be exhibited.


The audience of an exhibition

It is important to be able to consult the booking lists that the organisers receive even before the opening of the exhibition, since they will show broadly which audience is most attracted to the event. It is also necessary to know and frequent the channels chosen to spread the news about the event: social media, printed paper, billboards, public institution journals, etc. Based on this data we will have an initial idea of the audience who will learn about the event and so, with any luck, will book a visit.


Children at the exhibition

Another thing worth knowing well in advance is whether there are workshop and animation activities aimed at children and teenagers. In that case, the opportunities for selling books and objects aimed at younger visitors are greatly increased. If the organisers have planned workshops, guided tours, etc., it is good that the bookshop offers articles that relate to their immediate experiences, therefore: monographs for teenagers on artists, schools of painting, etc.; guides for youngsters to the city (practically every city has one); drawing and painting manuals; school notebooks, pencil cases, diaries, pens and pencils, water bottles, mugs. For the little ones, we can provide soft toys and crayon books, card games such as memory or similar and books.
Whether the children come with the family or accompanied by the school, they are always happy to buy souvenirs of the event and are generally allowed to do so. Fortunately, the days of tacky novelty items that for decades filled the shelves of bookshops and souvenir shops are over; now in the corner shops of museums and cultural events adults and children want good-quality items.


Museum visitors

The organisation of a bookshop is certainly easier for a museum. Being a permanent structure, we can arrange proper monitoring of the public, asking the staff at the counter to note the general age group, gender and other data on each individual visitor. It won’t be long before we have a picture of the types of person most interested in a collection and which items to highlight in the shop.
As always in business, including a business with an artistic connection, it is essential to know who we will be dealing with in order to maximise demand and our offering, boosting the activity.

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