Ask Me Anything: Differentiated Pricing

November 08, 2016

“I’m getting pressure from the board to bring in more ticket revenue. All our seats are the same price because there really isn’t a bad seat in the house, so what if I lowered the ‘worst’ and increased the ‘best,’ would that help or would everyone just buy the cheaper seats and we’d be worse off?”


What you’re talking about is “differentiated pricing.” This is the term used to describe different prices for different seats or performances. Your concerns are common, but, thankfully, unfounded. When you say all your seats are great, you’re assuming your audience perceives the art the same way you do. And, when you say everyone will just buy the lowest-priced seats, you’re assuming your audiences, on a whole, under value the art your organization produces.

Stop right now and remove your bias—it’s the biggest hurdle to pricing correctly.

Stop right now and remove your bias—it’s the biggest hurdle to pricing correctly.

Let me give you an example of why differentiated pricing is so successful. Let’s say you have a performance coming up and you’re going to offer tickets for $20. You figure you’ll sell 400 of them and that sounds great. You’ll make $8,000. But there might be some people for whom $20 is too much. What if you put some tickets on sale at $15? You might sell another 50, bringing your total gross to $8,750. But, also, there are some super fans who are more than happy to pay $30 to sit very close or have access to an added benefit like a signed program. If 50 of those original 400 people paid the premium price, your income would grow to $9,250. So, by just adding differentiated pricing, you’ve increased your gross by $1,250. Its supply and demand; simple Economics 101.


JCA Arts Marketing leverages your data more effectively to reach your goals. Our seasoned arts marketing consultants help you take advantage of every opportunity to increase revenue, boost attendance, and grow patron value. We have the knowledge, tools, and skills to help organizations—including museums, dance companies, opera companies, performing arts centers, symphonies, theatres, and more—strengthen their strategies for connecting with audiences. No matter the size or location of the organization, we can help you achieve your marketing goals.
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