As a followup to my last post, about my students, here’s the conclusion from a very useful paper, “Some Thoughts on Consumer Behavior,” originally published in ArtsReach(a magazine for arts marketers) and reprinted in Platform, a publication of AEA Consulting, which is where I saw it. The authors are Alexis Frasz & Chris Lorway.

Here’s how they conclude. People who’ve been reading me ought to find these thoughts familiar:

The world has changed dramatically and will continue do so. So what is the non-profit arts community to do?

Offer “high value” experiences and appeal to consumers seeking a wide variety of leisure experiences at a range of price points.

Develop your skills at maneuvering the web and using other digital technology and establish supportive virtual communities of producers, dealers, visitors, buyers, and commentators. Consumers increasingly expect to be able to find information about whatever they are looking for online, and culture is no exception. Organizations that find ways to link to other convenience services – such as ticketing, accommodation, travel, and restaurant reservations – will find that they have a competitive edge in the marketplace.

 Convince consumers you are worth the trip. Arts organizations that depend on the presence of an audience in some form (museums, theatres, opera houses, festivals) will need to make a convincing argument for the unique value of the live experience. Visitors may expect a unique, intense, all-consuming experience when they do venture out, and not be satisfied with a high-quality show or exhibition alone. At the same time, high artistic quality and a powerful, involving experience continues to distinguish successful artists and institutions from the rest – mid-quality theatre, exhibitions, and live music are struggling to survive.

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