How different demographically are the customers who pay two digit prices and willingly sit upstairs, and those who want the best seats and will buy top price, regular price tickets ,or premium tickets?
For many shows (unfortunately) there is a finite number of people willing to pay $150-$170 (or more) a ticket. Some shows are blessed with seemingly unlimited demand at high prices; others are not so fortunate. There is little a show can do when the number of buyers of three digit price tickets start drying up. Most shows spend time at their marketing meetings working on this challenge. The untapped vein is likely to be those who can only, or are only, willing to pay two digit prices. What can we learn about them? Is it possible we will be converting buyers of orchestra seats with three digit prices to buyers of mezzanine or balcony seats with two digit prices? It seems unlikely that customers who want good locations in the orchestra would march upstairs to sit in the Rear Mezzanine or Balcony. For one thing, many don’t want to climb the stairs (and some will have difficulty climbing stairs).
We decided to look at the Telecharge demographic data for buyers of regular price tickets (i.e. not buyers of tickets with a discount) in 2018, to look at each set of buyers, those who bought tickets with a two digit price and those who bought tickets with a three digit price, and see if and how they differ.
- 29% of tickets purchased for plays and 32% of tickets purchased for musicals, were for two digit prices.
- Buyers of three digit prices over index at incomes above $175,000, while buyers of two digit prices over index under $125,000.
- For a play, there are 33% more buyers of two digit priced tickets with income between $50,000 - $99,999 than there are between $100,000 and $150,000; for a musical, 25% more.
- Upper income buyers are still the largest percentage whether it is a two digit price or a three digit price.
- Buyers of three digit prices over index at ages 55 and above, while buyers of two digit prices over index at ages 54 and below. The difference is much larger at ages 44 and under.
- Buyers of three digit prices over index in households with two adults while buyers of two digit prices over index in households with a single adult.
- Buyers with a college or graduate degree over indexed as buyers of three digit priced tickets than with two digit priced ones.
- Conversely, buyers with just a high school diploma or some college over indexed buying two digit priced tickets over those who purchased three digit price tickets.
- African Americans buyers over index (difference is 31% for plays, 37% for musicals) with two digit priced tickets over three digit priced tickets.
- Hispanic buyers similarly over index (difference is 43% for plays, 55% musicals) with two digit priced tickets over three digit priced tickets.
- People of Jewish and Western European origin over index with three digit prices.
There are several takeaways here for bringing in a wider audience for Broadway (a.k.a. audience development). These categories are areas where buyers of two digit prices over index in key demographic groups:
- Moderate income.
- Young (or younger) people. Along with age, the income, education and household data all suggest younger people.
- Ethnicity. African Americans and Hispanics.
The data we used does not include discount buyers nor does it include any sales from TKTS, group sales, FIT or Lottery. We only used buyers of regular price tickets. It does include those who purchased through Broadway.com.
I will add this comment: Unlike the baseball field in the movie The Field of Dreams, we can’t be sure if we just have the prices, they will buy tickets. We may have to tell people about the prices.
Pricing has been a favorite topic of mine: most recently in a column looking at the pricing preferences of mobile buyers (Jan 4, 2019), earlier in a post on Dynamic pricing (May 8, 2015) and one on Protecting Full Price Sales (Mar 9, 2015). The focus has been protecting full price sales, moving more inventory to avoid the need to discount on the day of the performance. As often as not dynamic pricing on Broadway consists of adjusting prices downward to meet the needs of our consumers. Now we know something about those consumers who prefer the lower prices. Shows that appeal to younger buyers or to demographic groups other than the usual core avid theatre goers would benefit from pricing for these audiences.