Marketing to Millennials and Gen X’ers—Our Data-Driven Tips

September 25, 2017

Many arts organizations are focusing their brain space and budgets on capturing an audience that ranges roughly from the ages of 20 to 50—in other words, Millennials and Gen X’ers. Organizations are wondering if their efforts are successful. The best way to move from “wondering” to “knowing” is to look at the data. Here are some findings from “generational” studies we have conducted with arts organizations of different sizes and genres:

  • Audiences under 40 are less likely to subscribe, attend less frequently, and buy later.
  • 85% of Millennials and Gen X’ers will not return the following season.
  • In most cases, Millennials and Gen X’ers favor the same top-selling productions as the Baby Boomers and Silents.
  • The financial losses from the Silents are being made up via the Baby Boomers, not Millennials or Gen X’ers.

The above data points bring about the following suggestions for successful marketing to Millennials and Gen X’ers:

  • Ask questions of your data, not yourselves. The answers are usually found in your CRM system. Do not rely on assumptions of socio-economic status.
  • Meet the Millennials and Gen X’ers where they are. Respond to their current behavior, and don’t kill yourself trying to change it. Determine how those generations prefer to interact with your organization, rather than the ways your organization would prefer them to be loyal.
  • Maybe special programming isn’t the answer. A blockbuster is a blockbuster no matter how old the patron is.
  • Recognize the short runway. Start the conversation later than usual and increase the volume as the performance date approaches.
  • Just one more. Design marketing campaigns with the goal of getting Millennials and Gen X’ers to return just one more time—this season or next. The value of a “save” (i.e., preventing a new patron from lapsing) can be as much as $500/patron.

JCA Arts Marketing collaborates with cultural organizations to increase revenue, boost attendance and membership, and grow patron loyalty. We provide consulting and software services to hundreds of cultural institutions across multiple genres, including dance, museums, opera, performing arts centers, symphony, and theatre. We can help you achieve your marketing goals.

Steven Roth, President, JCA Arts Marketing

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