Anticipation, Captivation, and Impact
Last year, Theatre Bay Area sponsored a study on the impact of theatre on audiences, and how that related to satisfaction and customer loyalty. In many respects, the study didn’t reveal much that practitioners didn’t already know from experience; nonetheless, it is a largely unstudied relationship, which makes their work both interesting and commendable. They published their results, albeit without some of the most compelling figures (statistics, people, we want raw numbers!). For instance, they report that women were more likely to be the “deciders” on going to the theatre—picking the plays and purchasing the tickets—but don’t reveal the stats behind that statement, the percentage of women deciders versus men, (let alone its statistical significance).
They did produce a nifty chart summarizing their findings. The diagram “illustrates key relationships between readiness, impact and loyalty, based on the totality of the data set.” To fully understand it, pay close attention to the "R Squared" value that shows the ability of one factor to influence or predict another.
One of the interesting take-aways is the suggestion that knowing the story before going to the theatre adds to both the anticipation and overall emotional impact. Anticipation by itself (R squared = .16) didn’t lead to greater impact; finding the production “captivating,” naturally, lead to both deeper impact and greater likelihood that they would recommend the play to others.
One way to interpret these findings is to tell more of the play's story in your marketing material-- don't be coy. That, apparently, helps get people to the theatre. You'll still need a great show to make them come back, though.
Now the study would really have been complete if they looked at how these elements correlated to alcohol consumption.