Are you aged 25 – 65? Do you go to the theatre? If so, why? A cursory glance as some marketing strategies could easily make you think that you are not the target audience for some theatres.
With a huge focus on gaining a young audience and then a further focus on the senior citizen audience, some theatres seem to think those forty years between ‘youth’ and ‘senior’ are barren – not worth engaging with.
Of course there is huge value in encouraging a new young audience into theatre but what happens when they hit the 25+ age barrier? Do venues continue to engage with them to feed that burgeoning theatrical addiction or do they just move onto the next up and coming generation and leave the over 25s to fend for themselves. The engagement and incentive seems to kick in again once retirement beckons.
Schemes such as A Night Less Ordinary trumpeted the fact that they had given away thousands of free tickets. That scheme may have finished but have venues followed up on those who have graduated from schemes such as that to see if they have converted into long term paying customers?
While schemes such as this were helpful in making that first step and getting new audiences through the door the relationship needs constant work to convert these first time visitors into regular and engaged audiences. Are those audiences willing to pay full price for their burgeoning theatrical experiences once the discounts end?
Are we in danger of losing a generation of theatre-goers?
Of course young audiences are vital for the future of theatre and senior citizens are traditionally strong supporters but what about those intervening 40 years? Financial and time pressures for that age group are perhaps even more acute but, for some venues, the challenge of engaging this sector seems to be too hard a route to tread.
Some schemes such as the National Theatre’s Young Patron scheme are already addressing this age gap, offering a bridge between their youth scheme for supporters aged between 21 and 45. Those years give plenty of opportunity to build relationships with theatre goers and develop those relationships into long term support but it’s a relatively rare initiative.
One thing that all marketing guides agree on is that it is much easier to keep an existing customer than recruit a new one.
Time to have a fresh look at what you do to keep your customers in those 40 long years between 25 and 65?
Article originally written for Arts Professional Magazine.