Customer Research

For cultural venues and those active in the cultural sector, it is important that there are studies that investigate the needs and motivations of target groups. The marketers can then translate the research results into innovative concepts, improved marketing and communication strategies and new cooperative alliances. To facilitate this, Ticketing Group conducted a large-scale survey among 4,000 culture participants in Germany, the Netherlands, Flanders (BE) and Austria. This article  discusses a number of relevant research results and involves the museum, performance arts, cinema and concert sectors. This research was made possible by Creative Euorpe - Media Program 

 

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An overview of the key recommendations
This article is designed to provide greater insight into the audiences of 
museums, theatres, concerts and cinemas. What are the most important 
tips that can be derived from the research results? 

• Offer a stream or digital content that suits your venue and audience.
• Keep investing in the website, online ticket sales and your online 
presence.
• Be aware of your cross-cultural visitors.
• Know why people choose (not) to visit your venue.
• Do not underestimate the impact of visitors’ social environment.

Streaming is here to stay
Since the coronavirus pandemic led to strict measures and lockdowns 
all over the world, many cultural venues began offer cultural streams.
Is it worthwhile to keep doing this, even after the end of the pandemic? 
According to the research results, it is.
A large group of people have embraced the streaming of cultural 
content. One third of the respondents say they stream cultural events. 
Via streaming, you can even reach target groups that would normally 
not visit your venue. Furthermore, a large group of respondents has 
indicated that they intend to keep watching streams from cultural venues 
even after the corona crisis.

 

FIGURE 1

 

Paid streams have potential
Interesting fact: a considerable percentage of stream viewers would be 
willing to pay for a stream. For cinemas, this figure is 40%; for other
sectors, it applies to one third of viewers. That means streams do not 
necessarily have to be free. Instead, a high-quality free stream may entice 
viewers to watch a paid premium stream next time.

2

 

Live or on-demand streams? 
Although some cultural streams can only be watched live, it does not 
matter to the majority of viewers whether a stream is broadcast live or on 
demand. When offering a stream, you should therefore choose the format
that best suits your venue and sector. 

 

3

People feel positive about streaming 
Consumers have taken to streaming content. In fact, half of the stream 
viewers indicated that they found streaming cultural events to be (a lot of) 
fun. Only one in ten respondents did not enjoy it at all. Although it is not for 
everyone, public interest in streaming is clearly and undeniably growing. 

 

4

 

Streaming: a valuable addition to the range of offerings
The diagram below shows that more than half of the viewers believe 
streaming to be a valuable addition after the pandemic. By continuing 
to invest in streaming and digital content, you can extend your reach in 
a valuable manner and perhaps even entice viewers to visit your venue 
in person one day. 

 

5

 

Streaming: the cannibalism myth
Among cultural venues, there is a common fear that offering streams with
cultural content will result in cannibalism. This means that (potential) 
target groups will be satisfied with merely watching streams instead of
visiting a venue in person. Nothing could be further from the truth: streams 
pique viewers’ interest and entice them to visit a museum, concert, film or
theatrical performance in person. This is also known as the “sampling 
effect.” The results of the current survey show that frequent visitors
were also the ones who watched the most streams.
Furthermore, streams are a valuable solution for people who struggle 
to leave their home for some reason. People who are interested in film or
music, yet who suffer from health issues or do not like being in a large
crowd indicate that they love listening to music or watching films from the
comfort of their own home. Additionally, the distance to a cultural venue 
and a lack of time are reasons for many people to visit expositions or 
events less often than they might like. Even after the end of the coronavirus 
pandemic, these people represent a potential target group for streaming.

 

6

 

The existence of cross-cultural visitors
Ticketing Group’s Into Culture conference centred around cross-cultural 
visits to museums, theatres, concert halls and cinemas. People who visit 
concerts also tend to enjoy visiting music festivals. That should come as no 
surprise. However, did you know that many theatre visitors also love going 
to music festivals? There are major similarities between the target groups of 
the different sectors. For example, there are strong connections between
people who visit museums and those who visit art shows. People who visit 
the theatre have broad cultural interests: they also love visiting museums 
and art shows, as well as concerts and music festivals.
With these insights in mind, you can seek out partnerships: in what areas 
can you accommodate your visitors’ wishes more effectively and what
initiatives are not paying off?
    

The table below shows the connections between visitors of different
sectors in terms of the frequency of their visits. It is notable that all four 
sectors show a moderate to strong connection, especially compared to 
visitors of (e-)sports events. There are more similarities between cultural 
visitors than you think!

7

 

Cinemas are visited the most
Cinemas are accessible to large groups of people. The tickets are 
affordable and there is always something playing that people will like.
On top of that, the average distance to the nearest cinema is less than the 
distance to the nearest museum, concert hall or theatre. One out of five
respondents say they visit the cinema every month. For performance arts 
and museums, this figure is one in ten.
Performance arts have the largest group of non-visitors. This may have to 
do with the required economic and cultural capital that visitors need to 
possess. The tickets to see performance arts are more expensive than those 
in other sectors. Additionally, visitors are expected to have certain preexisting knowledge in order to properly understand and appreciate the 
performance. 

8

 

Know your audience: the three key motives for a visit 
For many, enjoying some quality time with friends or family is an important 
reason to undertake a leisure activity. The leisure sector and therefore the 
cultural sector play a crucial role in this regard. Our study therefore shows 
that many respondents visit cultural venues in order to have some quality 
time with their friends and family. Forgetting about their everyday 
concerns for a moment is another important motive to visit a cultural 
venue. For visitors of museums, another important motive is the acquisition 
of new knowledge. 
In addition to these three motives, frequent visitors of a sector often 
come back to pursue their passion. 

 

9

Reasons for no or occasional visits 
Besides knowing why some people visit your venue, it is also good to 
know why others choose to stay away. Not having enough time, the 
distance to the cultural venue being too great and tickets being too 
expensive are the three main reasons for people to visit only occasionally 
or not at all. As a result we see that people living in urban environments 
visit cultural venues more often than people living in less urbanised environments. Residents of an urban environment generally possess more 
economic and cultural capital than residents of less urbanised environments. Another explanation has to do with the fact that cultural venues 
tend to be located in urban environments where their target groups are 
the largest. As a result, people living in urban environments do not have to 
travel as far to reach their cultural venue of choice, which has a stimulating 
effect. People living in less urbanised environments have to travel farther,
which presents another obstacle to overcome. 

 

10

 

Stimulate repeat visits
Many visitors indicate that they would like to visit the museum, the theatre, 
the cinema or a concert more often. This is especially true for frequent 
visitors. More time and lower costs could motivate people to increase the 
frequency of their visits. Visitors of concerts and cinemas in particular 
indicate that they would like to see ticket costs go down. This is to be 
expected, since the target groups of these two sectors are typically 
younger than the audiences of performance arts and museums and 
therefore possess fewer financial means. Ticket prices are fairly high to
begin with in the performance arts sector.
In other words, the people who would like to visit cultural venues even 
more often are usually the ones who already do so frequently. These 
visitors are often passionate about the sector and feel a strong connection 
to it. If the price of admission is a factor for them, a subscription model 
might e.g. pay off for you and your customer alike.

 

11
 

 

The cost of repeat visits 
What are visitors willing to pay for admission? The diagram below 
illustrates what people are willing to pay for more repeat visits per sector. 
It shows that people are willing to pay the most for concerts and 
performance arts, even though these sectors are the most expensive to 
begin with. Frequent visitors are generally willing to pay the most for their 
tickets. These are often also the most affluent people.

 

12

Keep investing in online ticket sales
Although tickets are available from many different sellers, people tend to
prefer purchasing their tickets on the website of the venue they are visiting. 
The world of e-commerce is developing rapidly and people’s expectations 
are growing, so it is important to keep investing in this field. Although
the majority of consumers is satisfied with the currently available options
for buying tickets online, there is still room for improvement. 
For example, German and Flemish consumers believe that the website 
can be made clearer and easier to navigate in order to simplify the process 
of purchasing tickets. Dutch and German respondents view excessive 
service charges and resellers - who resell tickets at a significantly higher
price - as a problem. Respondents from all four countries indicate that 
having more available payment methods would improve the process. Do 
you offer your country’s most popular payment methods on your website?
Besides selling tickets online, it is also important to keep selling tickets on 
site: one in three visitors prefers to buy their tickets at the venue itself.

13-14

 

Recommendations from acquaintances are essential
For visitors of cultural institutions, their social environment represents their 
most important source of information. Furthermore, the internet is 
commonly used to find information. The two most important online
resources are the cultural institution’s own website and Facebook. 
Facebook is especially popular among concert visitors. Other than that, 
there are no major differences to be found between the four sectors.
Offline sources, such as newspapers, posters on the street and flyers in
local food service establishments, are also still relevant. 
The best way to reach more people is therefore by maintaining an online 
and an offline presence.

 

15

 

Trusted sources have the greatest impact on the purchasing 
process 

The same sources that attract the most attention also have the greatest 
impact on people’s decision to actually visit cultural institutions. Personal 
recommendations from friends, family members and colleagues have the 
greatest impact in all four sectors. 


The need for cross-cultural websites 
Analysing the survey’s open questions shows that a large percentage of the 
visitors would like to see a central website or app for cross-cultural events. 
Some would like to see a website that lists all exhibitions that are available 
in different museums, a concert agenda or even a complete overview of
information pertaining to the different sectors. Although such websites
already exist in certain sectors and certain countries, they are certainly 
a worthwhile investment.

 

Account of the investigation
Ticketing Group designed and orchestrated a study of cultural 
participation among residents of the Netherlands, Flanders (BE), Germany 
and Austria. In each country, 1,000 residents were asked about their 
interest in and visits to the four sectors: museums, theatres, music venues 
and cinemas. The data were gathered in December of 2020 using CAWI 
(Computer-assisted web interviewing), hosted by Respondi’s online access 
panel. The data were then analysed, interpreted and visualised by research 
agency Bureau Lahaut.
Respondents were asked to answer the questions (except for those 
pertaining to streaming services) based on their pre-corona context. 

 

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