Running head: VSO MARKET RESEARCH 1 You Decide - Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) Kaleb Merck MKTG320 Professor Ure DeVry University VSO MARKET...

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Running head: VSO MARKET RESEARCH 1 You Decide – Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO)


Kaleb Merck




Professor Ure DeVry University VSO MARKET RESEARCH 2 TO: Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) Board of Directors


FROM: Kaleb Merck


DATE: 2/13/16


SUBJECT: Recommendation for Ticket Sales Improvement




The data from the recent audience survey (completed January 6, 1987) returned numerous


valuable insights regarding consumer preferences and opportunities for improvement. The


Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) is facing a significant sales deficit, which has resulted in


the cancellation of concerts in an attempt to mitigate that deficit. Ed Oscapella (Chairman of the


Board), Jane Corbett (Marketing Chair), E. Douglas Hughes (Co-Chairman of the Board) and I


have analyzed the information gathered from the audience surveys and developed a set of


specific and actionable recommendations for improvement of VSO’s ticket sales and marketing


strategy. As one of the 10 largest orchestras in North America, the Vancouver Symphony


Orchestra certainly has the potential and appeal to regain successful sales and consumer demand. Ticket Sales Deficit


The VSO has been experiencing financial, managerial and artistic/creative problems over the


past two years, which is partially due to the steady decline of subscription revenue over the last


five years. Facing a $811,000 deficit, sluggish economic climate and 122 scheduled


performances at a cost, the VSO has been struggling to simply survive and maintain it’s “status


quo”. If significant changes aren’t made to VSO’s marketing, performance themes, ticket sales


incentives and financial management strategy, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra will almost


certainly have to consider closing the business. The most important and urgent issue for the VSO VSO MARKET RESEARCH 3 is the budget deficit and reducing it. Although the entire symphony orchestra industry is facing


tough economic conditions, the city of Vancouver has enormous potential and is “an emerging


center of international trade and investment” (Aaker, Kumar, Leone & Day, 2013), which points


toward economic growth in Vancouver in the short-term and long-term future. The VSO has seen a 30% overall decline in subscriptions during the period of 1984-1987, which


has been a steady decline throughout that period. Analysis and revision of the subscription


packages is vital to increasing subscription sales and improving the overall deficit. VSO Market Research


The declining revenues spurred the VSO to offer a “free concert”, which was heavily promoted


on local radio stations, which was a sellout in attendance with 2,761 people. During the free


concert, a questionnaire was distributed to gather information about the audience members. The


questionnaire included questions regarding if the “concertgoer was a subscriber, have they ever


purchased VSO tickets, number of VSO concerts attended, why they attended VSO concerts, a


scaled opinion list regarding the type of music being played and a rating list of VSO


characteristics” (Aaker, Kumar, Leone & Day, 2013). The second part of the questionnaire asked


audience members about their optimal balance of performer reputation, seating arrangement and


single ticket price. It also asked audience members their gender, age group, postal code, what


concert time preference, day of the week preference, where they get their information about VSO


events and a section for the audience member to expand on their answers. The questionnaire


included an address to mail the questionnaire into if the audience member wasn’t able to


complete it at that time or forgot to submit it. A total of 614 out of 2,400 questionnaires were VSO MARKET RESEARCH 4 submitted, a response rate of 26%, which is considered acceptable due to the audience being


composed of mostly groups and families. Analysis of Market Research Questionnaire


The management questions that the board of directors are hoping to resolve being with


identifying the cause(s) of the declining subscriptions and ticket sales. Other management


questions for resolution include identifying consumer demand characteristics, the target market


for the VSO, potential music selection changes, pricing, concert timing and distribution of


marketing material. The data gathered from the market research questionnaire helped the board


of directors gain insight into what the attendees value, what they prefer, where they live, day of


the week and timing of concerts, where customers get information and advertising regarding the


VSO, average age group of attendees, gender and what it would take to get the audience member


to attend VSO performances regularly. The weaknesses of the research project were the limited


time frame for preparation, limited target market consumer reach and only 614 submissions.


There was a potential for sampling bias occurring in responses by audience members who were


not interested in providing honest feedback and the 61% female responder rate. From the questionnaire, the VSO’s board of directors has learned that 42% of attendees have


attended previous VSO concerts to hear music live (most important to them), followed by


appealing music choice and famous guest artists (both 13% most important). The attendees rated


the following VSO characteristics as excellent: performance of orchestra (65%), acoustics in


Orpheum (56%), guest artists (43%), general atmosphere of Orpheum (63%) but only rated ticket


prices at 13% excellent. The worst rated characteristics were convenience of parking (13% poor), VSO MARKET RESEARCH 5 music selection (8%) and ticket prices (6%). The results of the questionnaire stated that classical


music (Bach, Mozart) is played too little (22%) and Canadian and Pops music is played too


much (24% & 20% respectively). The results from the second part of the questionnaire concluded that a price point between $8


(balcony) and a maximum of $20 (for international guest performers) is optimal. The data


gathered regarding pricing concludes that a fluent pricing model needs to be implemented by the


VSO, in relation to special events vs. orchestra. The most preferred concert time is 8pm and the


preferred days of the week are Tuesday (27%), Friday (25%) and Saturday (32%). Most of the


information is gathered by consumers from VSO mailings (47%) and from ads in daily local


newspapers (46%). The Vancouver Sun is the most read newspaper by the consumers with a 71%


preference. The responders were 61% female and 39% male, with the dominant age groups being


55-64 (22%), 45-54 (21%), 35-44 (17%) and 25-34 (16%). Recommendation


After analyzing the data gathered from the market research, taking into consideration the limited


exposure time of that research and other biases in the process, I have arrived at several


recommendations for improving the VSO’s sales, marketing and consumer experience. Due to


VSO’s $811,000 deficit, sales revenues and costs must be addressed most urgently. The data


from the market research indicates that consumers are sensitive to pricing relative to seating and


event type. The VSO should seek to implement a fluid pricing model based upon event type,


marketing exposure and demand. Prices between $8-$20 was the average acceptable price point


for consumers. The VSO also needs to schedule their concerts on Tuesdays, Fridays and/or VSO MARKET RESEARCH 6 Saturday to meet the demand by concertgoers for those days. Lastly, VSO needs to increase their


advertising in both VSO mailings and in The Vancouver Sun newspaper, which is read by 71% of


the VSO’s audience. VSO MARKET RESEARCH 7


References Aaker, D. A., Kumar, V., Leone, R. P., & Day, G. S. (2013). Marketing research (11th ed.). VSO MARKET RESEARCH 8


References Signor, Phillip, and Jere Lipps. (n.d.): n. pag. University of California. Web. 14 Feb. 2016. VSO MARKET RESEARCH 9


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