Located in Orange County, CA, the Pacific Symphony presents a diverse symphonic repertoire ranging from classical to contemporary music. In the spring of 2009, Pacific Symphony commissioned WolfBrown to assist with research and evaluation of its Music Unwound program funded by the Mellon Foundation. The overall goal of the study was to develop a new customer model that characterized the attitudinal diversity of the audience base, specifically looking at educational assistance and alternative concert formats. The initial survey protocol was drafted following extensive input from staff, and two focus group discussions were held to test and refine the questionnaire.

A random sample of 3,000 ticket buyers from the aggregate pool of all Pacific Symphony ticket buyers over the previous three years was surveyed. In addition, six booster samples of different ticket buyer groups, including multiple single-ticket buyers, Connections buyers, Classical subscribers, Summer Series buyers, Philharmonic Society subscribers, and KUSC listeners, were added to allow for a broader analysis of these subgroups. The survey was administered both online and via mail. Altogether, a total of 1,955 completed surveys out of 8,510 were received, representing an overall response rate of 23%. The survey probed interest levels in a variety of alternative concert formats and interest levels in a number of thematic programs. In general, a great deal of ‘preference diversity’ was found amongst PS audience members: four in five desire at least some context (i.e., an interpretation-rich educational format), and younger patrons are significantly more open to socially-oriented, alternative formats (e.g., “collage” concerts, festival-format events, etc).

A cluster analysis was performed on a sub-set of attitudinal variables relating to knowledge of classical music, interest in learning, attitudes towards different types of concert formats and thematic programming ideas, engagement preferences, motivations for attending, and purchase decision factors. Analysis revealed a four segment customer model: Loyal Adventurers (28%), Traditional Connoisseurs (20%), Highly-Engaged Initiators (26%), and Social Serenity-Seekers (26%). Additionally, a factor analysis was performed on 13 different pre-, during- and post-concert engagement activities. Four distinct engagement modalities were identified: Context & Insight (47%), Technology-Aided Interpretation (5%), Criticism & Conversation (78%), and Visual Stimulation (46%). Overall, the results suggested that engagement activity preferences followed a more or less “normal” distribution; about a quarter of the audience dislikes most engagement activities, while about a quarter of the audience enjoys all kinds of engagement activities. Half of all buyers are left in the "big middle" of the engagement curve, expressing moderate interest in engagement activities. Results were used to inform the design of future audience engagement programs.

Consultants: Alan Brown, Rebecca Ratzkin
Year Complete: 2010