The cultural sector needs to reinvent itself: from single ticket sales to subscription marketing

SINGLE tickets

For theatres, cinemas and museums, the sale of tickets is an essential part of the commercial activities. The cultural sector is waiting for the end of the current health crisis to revive ticket sales. But isn't this the ideal time to reinvent the economic model into one that aims at long-term revenues?

The culture sector was hit by Covid-19; in order to survive, many cultural structures innovated. Music schools introduced online versions of their courses. Cinemas sought to cooperate with streaming partners. Nevertheless, it is essential to think about the post-Covid period and to question current remuneration models. There may be other, more effective ways to generate revenue streams and engage audiences.

What do Netflix and HelloFresh have in common?

Netflix, Spotify, Disney, Microsoft, Dollar Shave Club, Nike, HelloFresh... What all these organisations have in common is that they do not provide a one-off product or service, but build a long-term relationship with the customer through subscriptions.

The basis of this model has been known for some years as recurring revenue.


Many organizations are attracted to paid subscriptions for a variety of reasons. For starters, revenues are recurring, making financial planning easier and less risky.

In addition,marketing effectiveness can also be improved by shifting the focus from one-off transactions to the creation of long-term customer relationships. After all, acquisition costs are no longer fragmented into many separate marketing and communication actions, but are focused on getting the right customer once and for all.

This model also benefits customers, who enjoyfinancial advantages (such as free shipping for Amazon Prime members), sometimes convenience (such as recipes and ingredients delivered to their homes by HelloFresh) and a sense of belonging. A good example of the latter is the Nike Adventure Club, which offers subscriptions for children's shoes and creates a strong emotional bond with the target group. No doubt in the hope that today's Adventure Club members will become tomorrow's Nike community.

From single tickets to subscriptions

Cultural enterprises would do well to give serious consideration to the possibility of moving from ticket sales to the creation of subscription offers. There is no doubt that this is not an easy task.

Here are a few indispensable points when setting up such offers.

  1. Putting the customer first

An important starting point for defining the right subscription offers is knowledge and understanding of the customer. What customer groups do we have? What motivates them? What "difficulties" do they encounter and what "gains" can our proposal bring them? What are they willing to pay for it?

  1. Consider the entire customer experience

Go beyond the content your venue offers (your exhibition, concert or film) and think about the entire customer experience. From the reservation and payment process, to parking, to the sending of information and promotions, to exclusive content... It might be a good idea to also include these types of service elements in your subscription package.

  1. Differentiate your offer

Develop several types of subscriptions that address different segments of your visitors. It is also useful to consider developing a "free" offer in order to attract new audiences and make them discover your cultural offer.

  1. Organize payments with partners

The shift to a subscription model will impact the settlement between cultural partners. For example, it is often the case that a theatre company determines in advance the amount it will receive for the performance as a "guarantee". How will this work with a different revenue model in the future? The good news is that we can learn from similar cases, such as Spotify's with regard to artists.

  1. Test on a small scale, deploy if successful

It is always interesting to experiment with different compensation models. Will the client accept and appreciate the new proposal? To what extent will we achieve at least the same financial results with the new model (and hopefully better results in the long run)? In order to minimize risk, it makes sense to start with a series of small-scale tests. If successful, the offer can then be rolled out on a larger scale.

Inspired and translated from the article from Frankwatching

Sophia Baladi

Sophia Baladi

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Visual Solene crop

Solène Jimenez

Would you like to carry out a data & CDP diagnosis of your organisation? Take advantage of 30 minutes of free consulting by reserving your slot.

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