Why Data Matters!

There are two ways to approach product development. You can develop commercially with the customer experience front of mind and guiding your development choices. Or you can develop artistically aiming to meet an artistic goal with the end product. But these two approaches aren’t mutually exclusive . . . and that is what tends to create the best results.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 27:  Broadway play marquees are seen near Times Square on May 27, 2015 in New York City. Broadway theaters drew more than 13 million attendees - a new record - and sold $1.365 billion worth of tickets in the theater year, which ended Sunday.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Apple is one of those companies that has mastered product development combining both the user experience from commercial development with the artistic goal of creating a work of art out of a mobile phone (or watch, Mac or whatever they come up with next). And this commitment to both aspects of product development has created incredible demand for their products and provided the ability for an enormous price premium.

But what about the theatre . . .

Every year the Broadway League does extensive audience surveying to capture changes in demographic, socio-economic status and number of visits for Broadway theatregoers. This not only allows for measurement in attendance, but also an understanding of the customer which is essential for any commercial business in order to tailor their products and services to these people. So what does the average attendee look like?

She is a 44 year old female, white and college educated visiting New York from another American city. During the 14-15 season, she saw three Broadway shows with her friends, buying her tickets online after a personal recommendation from a friend or finding a celebrity or music which resonated with her. But before purchasing those tickets she researched her show options via an online theatre news page such as Playbill.com or Broadway.com.

This is a great help for marketing shows. Attendees will change slightly depending on the show. Some will attract more ethnically diverse audiences. Some will attract older or younger crowds. Others will bring in people who have never seen a show. But people like this average make up the bread and butter of the ticket purchasers.

So where else should this information be used?

Product development.

If majority of your theatre audience is female (and they are usually the ones making the ticket purchase) then shouldn’t you be writing shows that appeal to this gender? If your predominantly female audience is seeing many more shows with their friends rather than a significant other, well that gives you an insight into the experience they will be searching for? If these attendees are probably going to see two, three or four shows while they are in New York, is there some way that you can leverage off their attendance at another show and get them through your doors?

Data may not be fun. But it can completely change the course your product charts. After all, wouldn’t it be a good idea to listen to the people who are forking out a whole day’s wage just to see a show if you want them to come through your doors?