It is a marketing truism that getting a new customer costs five times as much as keeping an existing one. So, if you can sell that existing customer tickets to 10 performances, that makes it 50 times more cost-effective. Surely, then, subscription is the answer to all our prayers but if so, why have subscription schemes dwindled in the UK?
There can, however, be disadvantages to focusing on subscription. You might, for example, create a ‘demographic time-bomb’ – subscribers are often older attendees, and should your pool of subscribers dwindle, what market will you fall back on? In our poll, one respondent wrote that ‘subscriptions are the enemy of true audience development’. A popular subscription can result in a relatively homogeneous audience, which can create a significant barrier to other audiences; to put it crudely, an auditorium full of ageing middle class white people probably won’t encourage attendance from young black people.