Museums and marketing in an electronic age
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 07:03 authored by Kim Lehman
It is widely acknowledged that the days of museums solely being places of contemplation for the educated, with a concentration on collecting, conservation and research, have now passed. The challenge for the modern museum is that, in addition to these traditional roles which still remain, they are now also expected to inform, educate and entertain, and to provide a 'value' museum experience within a competitive marketplace. Central to this challenge is the changing nature of the public, and how their expectations as informed and technologically aware consumers can shape museum activities. There are, then, significant social, economic and cultural changes that have affected the way museums need to operate and how they see themselves and their audiences. One response to this can be seen in the rise of marketing as a vital component of museum management. Such a marketing emphasis means museums actively seek to communicate with their publics. In order to do this, given the changes in the dynamics of the museums' marketplace, there is now the necessity to use electronic media within integrated marketing communication strategies. This use of electronic marketing as a strategy within the museum sector has received little attention in the academic literature. The position taken here is that the developments seen in the museum sector are best viewed by adopting a narrative approach to the structure of the thesis. Each chapter builds on the preceding, but each then carries the narrative forward, from the genesis of the modern museum, to the subsequent analysis of Australia's state museums. Within this context, this study takes a qualitative and interpretivist approach to the overall research aim, which is to investigate the factors that influence the extent to which the Australian state museums incorporate electronic marketing strategies into their overall marketing activities. It uses a multi-case method, with data drawn from interviews with operational- and strategic-level staff, extensive field visits and analysis of annual reports, marketing collateral and websites from the six Australian state museums. The thesis subsequently analyses the case study museums from a 'marketing perspective', using secondary data to compare and contrast each museum's strategies. It also seeks to reveal a 'museum perspective' by reporting and critically analysing the data drawn from interviews with staff from the Australian state museums. These perspectives are synthesised in a concluding chapter which also considers the research questions in light of the findings. In addition, this chapter addresses the extent to which the research has provided insight into the overall research aim. The thesis makes a significant contribution to museum marketing research by suggesting likely relationships between the use of electronic marketing in Australia's state museums, and the various internal factors and external forces evident both in the literature and in the findings presented here.