The Patron Growth Initiative (PGI) is a collaborative research effort involving the marketing and development functions of ten major orchestras (Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony). The overarching purpose of PGI was to examine attitudes and behaviors of patrons, from the most loyal to the least connected, with the ultimate goal of helping orchestras increase total lifetime value.
We initially developed a database of all ticket purchases and donations of 545,000 households from 2005–2009. Datamining and segmentation analyses were followed by in-depth interviews and surveys among 13,000 of these households with survey data linked back each HH record. The comprehensive analysis focused on revenue sourcing by patron segments, the dynamics of ticket buying and donations, motivations for giving, and the relationships between patrons and their local orchestra. PGI findings were widely disseminated within the field and resulted in strategic shifts in patron engagement, concert experiences, benefit and reward mechanisms, and internal marketing-development dynamics—all with a vision of increased loyalty, commitment, and partnership.
With PGI 3 the database was updated for a third time providing ten years of longitudinal data for 1.2 million patron households up through FY14, with demographic appends and a survey of over 16,000 patrons. We examined key trends; identified the most critical generational issues and target priorities; and recommended strategies in the areas of marketing, development, customer experience, concert formats/programming, and audience development. Results were shared at the 2015 League of American Orchestras Conference and continue to influence thinking and actions in the field.