Since 2015, the British Science Association has been developing and testing a simple segmentation model that we use as framework to understand our audiences over the age of 16, and to help us refer to groups of people based on the extent to which they see science as part of their culture and identity.

The four groups are:

  • Professionals - people who study, produce or curate scientific knowledge 
  • Engaged - people who are enthusiastic about science and seek out information, events, etc
  • Inactive - people who say they are interested in science but do not actively seek out information, events, etc 
  • Not interested - people who see science as ‘not for me’.

Together with King’s College London, we have undertaken research into how this model maps to the attitudes and behaviours of the UK public. Our latest research (2016) suggests that the “Not interested” and “Inactive” groups make up three quarters of the UK population, or roughly, 49 million people. We have set an ambitious target to move 4 million of these people move to the “Engaged” or “Professional” groups by the end of 2020.

This model was created to be a simple-to-use tool for the BSA to understand our audiences. We appreciate this is a simple model; people are complex and don’t fit neatly into four categories. But as a model, it helps support us in making in making our mission tangible and measurable.

A strategic tool

We use the model to help us decide where to focus our time and energy: we prioritise the activities which are most likely to transition people from the ‘Not interested’ or ‘Inactive’ groups to the ‘Engaged’ or ‘Professional’ groups. 

An evaluation tool

We use a set of survey questions with the people who participate in our activities that help us understand which audience model group they fall into, and whether this changes as a result of our activities.

Sharing our model

Several organisations from within the science engagement sector have shown interest in using our model, and some have already started to do so. We would like to encourage other people to explore whether our model will work for them because, in doing so, they will be helping to contribute to our 4 million goal.

We have outlined the model, how we use it, and the questions we ask in our evaluations in a document, which you can download here.

Our chief executive, Katherine Mathieson, explains more in this blog.