Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Insights For Community Marketers Into Touring Broadway

One thing I immediately recognized and appreciated as I met Nederlander executives during my former life in community/destination marketing was their appreciation for and understanding of how to utilize market research including marketing intelligence.


Nederlander, in partnership with PFM, contracts to operate the acclaimed Durham Performing Arts Center on behalf of the City of Durham and a centerpiece to its programming is a SunTrust Broadway Series but they are also the largest operator of legitimate theaters in the world.

A tip from a study of the overall 2010 Touring Broadway season (the most recent) may have led them to advertise during the Tony Awards Sunday night. By the way, if you missed an excellent blog in the days leading up the that show, entitled Just How Much Is a Tony Worth, click here

However, the data from the study are readily available and could be extremely useful to every community/destination marketing organization in a community with a Touring Broadway series or theater.

As of the end of the 2010 season there were more than 300 Touring Broadway theaters spread across the United States and Canada, an increase of more than 100 since I began reading the reports less than ten years ago.  The dramatically increased "access to opportunity" this has created along with a decline in the number of new productions that tour is on the minds of people and communities seeking to use them to draw visitors.

This means there is now a Touring Broadway theater in one of every three communities competing in destination marketing in North America including the the vast majority of those in Durham’s competitive set.

Thanks to the growing number of theaters and a bump in the number of "touring weeks" over the prior year, the audience overall for Touring Broadway climbed to within a hair of 16 million in 2010, slowing inching back up to the heyday of Touring Broadway in the mid-1990s.

Touring Broadway theater goers see an average of 4.4 shows each so the size of the universe drawn to the art form in North America could be said to be 3.6 million or an average of 12,000 for each Touring Broadway theater, making the Touring Broadway segment of the 4.5% of all visitors who participate in concerts/plays/dance as an activity, extremely competitive.

Touring Broadway statistics of course do not include New York City or Las Vegas nor do they include other concerts and events a theater may feature.

Of further assistance to marketers is the knowledge that nearly 3 out of every 4 attendees is female.  The average age overall is 54.  In the words of the report, the vast majority are Caucasian.  Females are also most likely to make the purchasing decisions.  Attendees are two and a half times more likely than the general population to have incomes of $100,000+ and 3 out of 4 have college degrees and nearly a third have post-graduate degrees.

It is no surprise for those following the dramatic decline in the effectiveness of advertising overall to learn from the study that ads are also becoming less effective as a way to reach Touring Broadway audiences.

Nearly 40% are subscribers to a series at a theater near their home and nearly 30% of Touring Broadway theater goers also traveled to New York City in year of the report.

Touring Broadway is predominantly about musicals so it is good news that a new big sell-out hit on Broadway in New York, The Book of Mormon, took home 9 Tony Awards last night and seems destined to eventually tour.  Maybe some dramatic plays like the other big award-winner, War Horse, will as well.

Of course, marketing a theater or a series is a much different challenge than marketing a community/destination.  As an incredibly successful head of a visitor-related organization once explained to his peers, "our job is to worry about today, the community/destination marketing organization's (DMOs) job is to worry about tomorrow.”

By that he meant that a DMO’s role is tell the community’s story, stimulate interest in the community overall, lower barriers, get the community on the list for consideration as a destination and then provide a platform and framework from which individual visitor-related businesses and organizations can harvest that interest to help fill hotel beds and ballrooms, fill seats restaurant seats and retail stores, spin turnstiles at theaters, ballparks, museums and populate festivals, gardens and nature areas. etc.

But knowing specifics about the size and demographics of the Touring Broadway audience compared to a community’s overall target markets can help assess the potential of Touring Broadway for both day-trip and overnight visitors.  It also provides perspective in which to evaluate the mitigating impacts of consumer behaviors like "access to opportunity.”

Intel such as this can help a DMO not only assess the potential for a series or a theater as either a satisfier vs. a motivator, but it can also help evaluate how and where to salt and pepper mainstream offerings in with more distinctive place-based assets in overall community descriptions and marketing elements in efforts to get on the list for consideration by the most high-potential travelers possible.

Secondary marketing intelligence like that provided by The Broadway League can also help a DMO benchmark its local theater and understand the challenges a Touring Broadway theater or series can face while harvesting from the interest generated in the community overall.

The term secondary means the research was generated by other organizations.  The intel generated by The Broadway League about Touring Broadway is invaluable to the several hundred communities with this feature.

No comments: