Just who are our premium ticket buyers anyway?

This could be one of my favorite “Market Notes”  yet.

Market Notes is a report that the Shubert Organization, which sits on top of a mountain of Telecharge data, spits out every month or so, to enlighten us on some our audience’s buying habits.  The reports are written by Mr. Brian Mahoney, who I referred to as the “Swami of Statistics” in 2008, during my first year of blogging.  (Read that entry here)

This month, Monsieur Swami, is pulling the curtain back on those folks out there that buy our premium tickets.  These guys and gals are the equivalent of our “high rollers.”  They want the best, and they want it now.  And they are willing to pay for it.  (As I like to say, there is always someone that likes to fly first class.)

But who the heck are they?

Here’s a word-by-word report of what the Swami said:

As an industry, we make a lot of assumptions about buyers of premium tickets. One such assumption is that customers who buy premium seats will do it over and over, because they always want the very best. We ran some numbers recently and came up with a few interesting facts about premium buyers:
88% of the premium buyers made just one premium purchase in a single year; only 12% made multiple premium purchases.
For 40% of the customers who purchased a premium ticket, it was their only Telecharge purchase.
60% of the premium buyers saw more than one show in a year, but the others were not premium purchases.
While women are the predominant buyers of theatre tickets, men are the predominant buyers of premium tickets.
Most premium buyers are from out of town (65%); only 12% are from Manhattan.
This data doesn’t support the notion that there is a “premium buyer” who always wants the best seats. Why don’t buyers make multiple premium purchases?  Could the nearly 100% premium mark-up on orchestra seating be the deciding factor in how many premium purchases people make?  Would shows sell more premium tickets if the mark-up to its premium seats was only 50%?

So we do have high rollers, alright . . . but they are specific to one show.  I call this the “Mormon” effect.  They gotta see one show, and they can’t get tickets any other way.  So maybe my theory of just wanting the best isn’t quite right. Maybe they are forced into premium tickets because it’s the only thing available.

Swami?  Do you have an answer for that?  Is there a way to find out if Premium buyers looked for regularly priced tickets first?

That question, and the questions posed in the repot about how much to mark-up a premium ticket are exceptionally important to the future health of our business . . . because as discounting initiatives increase, if done right, successful premium pricing could become a way to offset the amount of discounting that a show needs to do.


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