I couldn’t help but continue with my pricing motif when I saw the Cry Baby marquis this weekend advertising "All Tickets for Previews Only $54!" (The show is set in 1954. Get it? 1954. $54.)
The hopeful Producers of Hairspray II are betting that this reduced price (about the same as what the price would have been at the TKTS booth) will pull in more of an audience during the ever important early weeks, when a show’s expenses are high and grosses are low.
But will it work?
By slashing their prices across the board, they have eliminated the consumer’s option for choice, which breaks my Kardinal Kenism:
There is always someone who wants to fly first class.
First class may seem out of reach for most of us, and a full price ticket might seem too expensive for an unproven show in previews for most of us as well, but data shows there is always someone who will buy it, no matter what the price is. They just want "the best." Dance of the Vampire, Moose Murders, Carrie . . . all of the biggest flops in history had full price ticket buyers during previews. Stupid ones, but still. My opinion? Just take the money.
The other problem with across the board pricing strategy is that your
TKTS price is proportionally adjusted. So, the Producers of Cry Baby aren’t only losing income from the potential $115 ticket buyer who is now
paying $54, but they’re also losing money from the people who would have
paid $57.50 at the booth (50% of $115) who are now going to pay $27 (and remember – at the TKTS booth, you don’t see the actual prices display . . . only 25%, 35% or 50% off, so the customer thinks they are all the same).
The Producers of Baby are smart people. They understand the above theory. But obviously they believe two things:
- They believe they are going to sell approximately 2x the number of tickets from this promotion than they would have sold using traditional pricing. Even if they sell the same, they will have double the butts in the seats. And more bodies = more word of mouth.
- The public discount will allow them to spend less on advertising so they can avoid certain email blasts, direct mail, etc. which reduces their overall expenses.
Time and Variety will tell how this theory works, but if I were playing my favorite game, I would have made a different call.
I would have priced it more traditionally, based on my first class rule above, and because I don’t believe that the price is that remarkable of a call to action.
Then I would price the entire house for just the first preview at $19.54.
That’s a price worth talking about. And it would have gotten the most people in to the see the show early, so they would hopefully stop talking about price.
And start talking about the show.
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