In a recent analysis of aggregated responses to our post-show survey used by 60+ venues across the UK, we uncovered an optimistic picture of cultural engagement; happy customers – 92% of whom were ‘glad they went’ – whose positive experiences demonstrate the value and importance of cultural activity in all our lives.

Based on a sample of more than 1m responses it’s not insignificant to find 90% of customers rating the event they attended a solid 4 or 5 stars and an equal 84% for their ‘satisfaction with the venue’ and ‘value for money’.   

Overall, a huge ‘pat on the back’ for everyone who works so hard across all areas of the sector to ensure audiences have a memorable and enjoyable time.

Women arts attenders tend to be younger than men.

I was curious to explore the data with a gender perspective – are there differences? are they significant? The finding that most surprised me was about age. There were significantly more women in the 25 – 54 age bracket than men, while 65-75+ men dominate those responses – almost double the number of women of the same age – illustrating an interesting pattern of engagement across the curve of a lifetime.

Other curious findings include group size, with women more likely to attend in a group of any size (more than a pair), while 73% of men attend alone or in a pair. Exploring this further, we looked at women only – creating sub sets by age and found that women under 35 were more likely to attend alone than their older counterparts.

Looking at previous visits, 37% of women have attended 4+ times compared with 34% of men. This still, of course, leaves a whopping 36% of the total audience who are attending for the first time – a huge opportunity for the sector to capture the hearts of those first time attenders and encourage them to come back.

So, how effective are the marketing channels being used? Overall these are pretty evenly matched; Women are more likely to quote the venue brochure while men’s primary source is the venue’s website but the same methods appear in the top 5 for both men and women.

The same analysis for women only however illustrates a diversification of marketing channels with social media appearing in the list and a reduced impact of the brochure amongst the younger cohort. Posters appear high up the list too – perhaps an indicator of an urban / rural split between younger and older women? a hypothesis for another day…

Men are more likely than women to book their tickets close to the event and are happier to pay ‘theatre prices’ for programmes, refreshments and tickets. They know what they like and they don’t mind paying to see it. 

Looking through the stats, several were unsurprising; we’re equally irritated by long queues and the annoying antics of other, more thoughtless, audience members get both our goats. Where sound is considered a problem – it is men who are more bothered by it while a poor view of the stage leaves more women disgruntled.

When asked about motivations, the responses show an adventurous streak with 27% of women ‘trying something new and different’  compared with a rather lacklustre 21% of men. More women than men quote a ‘celebration’ as the reason they are enjoying a night out.

So, now I’m building a picture. Groups of family and friends, enjoying a night out, happy to pay a little extra at the bar, prepared to forgive the queue for the loo in their pursuit of a great time that they’ve been looking forward to for weeks, and in most cases, months.

Probably a familiar picture to marketing departments around the country.

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