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Understanding and measuring consumption motives in the performing arts

Understanding and measuring consumption motives in the performing arts
De Rooij, P. and Bastiaansen, M. (2015).Understanding and measuring consumption motives
in the performing arts. 41st Social Theory, Politics and the Arts Conference. 10-12 December
2015, University of South Australia, Adelaide.
Dr. Pieter de Rooij
Dr. Marcel Bastiaansen
NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences
Academy for Leisure
P.O. Box 3917 - 4800 DX Breda - The Netherlands
+31 (0)76-533 2203
Currently, there is no common understanding on categorizing, conceptualizing and measuring
consumption motives in the performing arts. The current literature is fragmented and
incomplete. This paper presents two studies. Study one presents the results of 47 semi-
structured in-depth interviews. The results deepen the understanding of consumption motives.
A new framework consisting of cultural and social motives is introduced. This framework is
tested in the second study. Here, a quantitative instrument is developed to measure
consumption motives. The results of the latter study refine the framework and demonstrate
nine consumption motives.
Key words
Consumption motives, performing arts, cultural motives, social motives, framework,
measurement tool
Performing arts organizations need to become more customer-centric. The number of
European consumers who attended a theatre at least once a year decreased from 32% in 2007
to 28% in 2013 (EY, 2014). US figures show that the number of people attending at least once
a year is steady, but that consumers are participating less frequently (LaPlaca Cohen, 2014).
Subsidies for European cultural organizations have been decreasing lately. Before the
economic crisis started in 2008, subsidies for cultural services increased by 5% a year. After
2008 these subsidies have decreased on average by 1% every year (EY, 2014). Understanding
why customers attend performing arts events and improving their experiences is therefore
becoming increasingly important for performing arts venues in order to keep their current
customers and to raise their revenue.
Customer experiences of performing arts events are influenced by consumption motives. If
performing arts venues understand consumption motives, they can design appropriate
customer experiences in order to increase satisfaction and customer loyalty. The literature
recognizes that a performing arts visit is rarely the result of one single motive. Consumers
have different sets of motives, at different times, for attending performing arts. Some authors
argue that research into motivations of visitors of performing arts or in a broader cultural area
such as museums is limited (McCarthy and Jinnett, 2001; Slater, 2007; Swanson et al., 2007
and 2008). The authors who have studied consumption motives and experiences, have no
common understanding on how these consumption motives should be categorized,
conceptualized and operationalized: the current literature it is fragmented and incomplete
(Swanson et al., 2008). Two shortcomings may have contributed to this problem: (1)
researchers have a lack of attention for the social meaning of individual constructs such as
motivation and involvement, and (2) they rely too much on quantitative research designs and
responses of ‘disconnected individuals’ (O’Sullivan, 2009; Wood and Danylchuk, 2011).
Therefore, there is a need to design qualitative research studies and to understand
consumption motives. This knowledge will contribute to improving the categorization and
conceptualization of consumption motives. Insights into the meaning of consumption motives
can subsequently be applied to operationalize and to measure these motives in a quantitative
way. A quantitative measurement tool will assist performing arts organisations to effectively
improve customer experiences and to increase value for their customers.
The objective of this study is to understand and measure consumption motives in the
performing arts and to explore the importance of these motives to performing arts visitors.
The research questions are:
1. How can we conceptualize and categorize consumption motives of performing arts
2. How can we measure these consumption motives?
This paper reports a qualitative and quantitative study. The first research question is addressed
in study one. Based on a literature study and in-depth interviews with customers of a theatre,
we will deepen the understanding of consumption motives and propose a new framework
consisting of cultural and social motives. Study two shows the results of a quantitative
measurement of consumption motives, based on the outcomes of the first study.
Motivation is the mental disposition to aim at specific behaviour (Franzen, 2008). It is a
trigger that leads somebody to act on a salient need (Slater, 2007) and moves people to action
(Kleiber et al., 2011). There are different theories on motivation. Firstly, the push and pull
theory will be discussed (Dann, 1977). Secondly, we will describe the self-determination
theory (SDT) (Deci and Ryan, 1985). Finally, a brief review of consumption motives in the
performing arts literature is provided.
Push and pull theory
Consumption motives may be divided into push and pull factors (Dann, 1977). Visitors may
be pushed by internal factors and pulled by an organization. Push factors relate to the visitor
as a subject and consist of individual, social-psychological needs (Dann, 1977; Goossens,
2000). Pull factors attract consumers to a specific organization and contain marketing stimuli,
such as tangible and intangible cues or benefits (Goossens, 2000). The value of these factors
is in the object of choice (Dann, 1977). It is assumed that consumers are firstly pushed by
specific needs and then pulled by marketing stimuli (Dann, 1977). Knowledge about push
factors can be used to explain the desire to attend performing arts, while pull factors give
insights into the choice for a specific performance (Goossens, 2000; Lam and Hsu, 2006).
Since we want to understand consumption motives in the performing arts in general, this
study will concentrate on the push factors.
Self-determination theory (SDT)
Based on the self-determination theory consumers may be intrinsically motivated,
extrinsically motivated or amotivated (Deci and Ryan, 1985). Intrinsic motivation refers to an
autonomy orientation directing behaviour based on interest, enjoyment or challenge (Deci and
Ryan, 1985; Kleiber et al., 2011). There is no external reward: the reward is the activity itself.
Intrinsically motivated consumers attending performing arts events are primarily interested in
a kind of artistry such as a genre, performer or performance (culture-core). They visit the
performance for its own sake with intrinsic rewards being an end in itself (Bouder-Pailler,
1999; Holbrook and Gardner, 1998). Extrinsic motivation refers to a control orientation and
undertaking an activity because it leads to a separable outcome or expectation, such as getting
rewards or gaining recognition (Deci and Ryan, 1985; Kleiber et al., 2011). Extrinsically
motivated consumers want to satisfy a specific aim that lies beyond the actual performing arts
product (Bouder-Pailler, 1999). Therefore, the value of attending a performance is
instrumental: it serves as a means of achieving an external aim or end (Holbrook and Gardner,
1998). In this case motivation is not primarily related to artistry (culture-peripheral) (Roose
and Waege, 2003). Consumers primarily have an interest in performing arts related to the
social environment of the performing arts, such as an evening out with family or friends
(Roose and Waege, 2003). The SDT theory also describes amotivation whereby consumers
have a lack of motivation. This lack of motivation may lead to a decision not to attend
performing arts at all (Andreasen, 1991), not to attend more performances than in the past
(Ngobo, 2005), or not to buy a subscription (Petr, 2007).
Review of consumption motives in the performing arts literature
People have different sets of motives at different times for engaging in arts activities. The
behaviour of an individual in a given situation may require a consideration of many motives,
often interacting with each other (Caldwell, 2001). Based on a literature survey, the following
consumption motives are distinguished: (1) aesthetics, (2) cognitive stimulation, (3)
reduction, (4) transcendence, (5) entertainment, (6) variety and novelty, (7) bonding, and (8)
distinction (Boorsma, 1998; Boter, 2005; Bouder-Pailler, 1999; Caldwell, 2001; Kushner and
King, 1994; Holbrook, 2005; Passebois and Aurier, 2004; Swanson et al., 2008). These
motives will be used in this study, and are described below.
1. Aesthetics
Aesthetics is defined as an immediate experiential pleasure or enjoyment in terms of beauty,
evoked by works of art by which senses are stimulated (Kushner and King, 1994; Passebois
and Aurier, 2004; Caldwell, 2001; Swanson et al., 2008). Aesthetics have always been viewed
as fundamental to cultural consumption (Pulh et al., 2008). A few studies refer to the
importance of aesthetics to consumers (Swanson and Davis, 2008; Kramer, 2007).
2. Cognitive stimulation
Cognitive stimulation relates to individual knowledge enrichment (Caldwell, 2001; Bouder-
Pailler, 1999). It is one of the goals of theatre audience development (Hayes and Slater,
2002). Studies report mixed ideas about the importance of this intellectual enrichment. Some
studies point out that this motive is less important to customers compared to other motives
(Roose and Waege, 2003; Kramer, 2007; Garber et al., 2000). Other studies make a
distinction between customer segments and report that cognitive stimulation is more
important to subscribers or to involved consumers with high attendance rates (Johnson and
Garbarino, 2001; Swanson et al., 2008; De Roest and Van den Broek, 2008).
3. Reduction
Reduction relates to feelings of recuperation, escaping from day-to-day life, finding
tranquillity, and recovering energy and strength (Caldwell, 2001; Swanson et al., 2008). In
general, this motive is very important to performing arts visitors. Some studies refer to the
importance of reduction, especially to single-ticket buyers, or to less involved consumers who
do not belong to the core audience (Johnson and Garbarino, 2001; Roose and Waege, 2003;
De Roest and Van den Broek, 2008).
4. Transcendence
Transcendence can be related to a spiritual experience allowing the consumer to break loose
and to rise in this world, experiencing extraordinary states of being, and being uplifted
(Caldwell, 2001; Passebois and Aurier, 2004). A spiritual or transcendental experience may
include intense emotions and feelings to the arts, the inner life and to other people
(Heintzmann and Mannell, 2003).
5. Entertainment
Entertainment refers to pleasure, enjoyment, having a good time and being amused (Bouder-
Pailler, 1999; Swanson et al., 2008). The transfer of cultural practices to mass audiences has
brought a switch of knowledge to the pursuit of emotion (Pulh et al., 2008). Nowadays, many
consumers look for ‘edutainment’ (Pulh et al., 2008) or learning-orientated entertainment
experiences (Slater, 2007). A study by Hume et al. (2007, p. 142) shows that the majority of
the respondents ‘defined the performing arts as an entertainment service rather than an artistic
6. Variety and novelty
Variety and novelty entails acquiring new and original experiences (Boorsma, 1998; Roose
and Waege, 2003). A study by Roose and Waege (2003) shows that this motive ranked
highest in importance to the core public when compared to other motives.
7. Bonding
Bonding refers to collectively sharing experiences, creating a community, being related or
attached to other people including famous performers, or social hedonism (Bouder-Pailler,
1999; Caldwell, 2001; Kushner and King, 1994). It is assumed that some cultural consumers
are seeking a shared and social experience rather than an individual, aesthetic experience
(Pulh et al., 2008). Some studies suggest this is an important motive (Van Boven, 1998;
Kramer, 2007; Garber et al., 2000).
8. Distinction
Distinction (or social discrimination, status) is related to means of distinguishing oneself,
making favourable impressions, and demonstrating membership with a particular social group
(Caldwell, 2001; Holbrook, 2005; Passebois and Aurier, 2004). The human need for
distinction and self-esteem could be fulfilled by identifying oneself with a specific activity,
organization (Swanson, 2007) or specific group (Glynn et al, 1996; Boorsma, 1998). A study
by Swanson and Davis (2008) shows that the greater the motivation for self-esteem
enhancement, the more times and the more number of years the customer attended the theatre.
On first thoughts, it seems that aesthetics, cognitive stimulation, reduction, transcendence,
entertainment, and variety and novelty may be regarded as intrinsic motives and bonding and
distinction as extrinsic motives. However, the question is: what is the core part of the
performing arts product? Reduction, for example, seems to be an intrinsic motivation, but it
may not be the purpose of the artist to create tranquillity for the consumer. Bonding seems to
be an extrinsic motivation because it serves an external aim (building friendship). However, is
bonding not an inherent aspect of the current arts product (Debenedetti, 2003)? Therefore, it
raises the question of whether the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in
performing arts can be made that easily.
Most motivations described in the literature relate to the individual. Only bonding and
distinction are socially constructed. This corresponds with earlier notions that there is limited
attention for the social aspect in arts and cultural settings (Debenedetti, 2003; Larsen et al.,
2009; O’Sullivan, 2009). The exploratory character of study one allows for attention to be
turned to these social factors.
Study one
Research method
As discussed previously, people have different sets of motives, often interacting with each
other (Caldwell, 2001). In this study, a qualitative approach is applied because of this
complexity. It offers the possibility to take a holistic perspective and it provides an
opportunity to understand consumption motives in a particular context and to gain insights
into the meaning respondents give to these motives. Furthermore, it provides a rich
description, detailed answers, necessary differentiations and fresh insights (Bryman and Bell,
2007; Evers, 2007; Miles and Huberman, 1994). Because consumers may have different
motives to attend performing arts which interact with each other, the qualitative approach
enables the researchers to identify connections between several motives. In sum, it provides
opportunities to describe and understand consumption motives. The study has an exploratory
Semi-structured in-depth interviews were held with customers of a subsidized theatre in
Tilburg, The Netherlands. Theaters Tilburg has a theatre, a concert hall, a smaller studio
where performances can be held, an art cinema, a design cafe and a restaurant. Having a
theatre and a concert hall, Theaters Tilburg provide performances in a wide range of genres.
A quota sample was taken from the customer database, reflecting the theatre’s customers in
terms of relative proportions of customers in different categories like attendance frequency,
gender, age, postal code area and genre (last attended). The interviews were held by the
author and by two MA students of Leisure Studies, Tilburg University. Through supervision
of the students, the theoretical concepts were discussed intensively. Moreover, prior to the
interviews, each researcher held several test interviews in order to get acquainted with the
topic list. The interviews were recorded using a digital audio recorder and were fully
transcribed. A total of 47 interviews were held between October 2009 and May 2010.
The study of consumption motives was part of a wider study to understand customer loyalty
to performing arts venues. In the interviews, one of the questions was what the respondent
expected of attending performing arts events. What would he/she like to experience? What is
important to him/her? The respondents were asked to elaborate on their motivations.
Furthermore, an association technique was applied (Malhotra, 2004). The respondents were
presented with eight cards describing the eight consumption motives:
‘I want to see or hear something beautiful’.
‘I want to learn something or to amass knowledge’.
‘I want to get away for a short while and recover my energy’.
‘I want to get totally absorbed or be entranced’.
‘I want to have pleasure and be entertained’.
‘I want to experience new and original things’.
‘I want to be with other people’.
‘I want to belong to the people who visit a theatre.’
The respondents were asked to put these cards in order of importance and to elaborate on
what these motives meant to them.
Data analysis consisted of a few steps. In the first step, a framework was developed (Ritchie
and Lewis, 2003). In the second step, after the transcription process for each case had
finished, the raw data were indexed using the framework. The third step in ordering the data
was to construct a set of conceptual matrices in an excel sheet. In the fourth step, the data
from the transcripts were summarized, synthesized and fed into the excel sheets of the
framework index system. The last step was to analyze the data.
Transcripting, indexing, and feeding data from the transcripts into the charts, was handled by
the author and by the two students who were supervised by the author. Therefore, it was
important to pay attention to the inter-coder reliability (Bryman and Bell, 2007). Through
supervision of the students, the theoretical concepts could be discussed intensively prior to the
interviews in several sessions, to improve a common understanding of the concepts.
Moreover, prior to three joint sessions, three interviews were independently indexed and input
into the framework index system by the researchers. These preparations were followed by
intensive discussions in three sessions on the concepts and the index. Furthermore, based on
the first five indexed transcripts of each student, individual sessions with each student took
place in which the concepts and index were discussed again, in order to further improve the
common understanding of the concepts and the common use of the framework index. The
final framework indexes of the students were checked afterwards based on the transcripts, and
altered if necessary.
Understanding consumption motives
The majority of the respondents express that aesthetics is the most important consumption
motive. Respondents indicate that they want to enjoy the beauty of the sound, sight, scenery,
and costumes, and they want to see the performers’ facial expressions. Consumers want to be
emotionally touched and captivated by the performance. Some indicate they want to have the
shivers. Moreover, respondents argue that they attend live performances instead of listening a
CD or watching a performance on television, because there is more ‘feeling’ in such a
performance. Some respondents are motivated because they are eager to experience
something really special at an extraordinary location. Some respondents highly appreciate
multi-sensory stimulation of their senses. All these aspects relate to the intensity of emotions.
During the interviews, the respondents were also asked about their most special experience.
Various respondents report that their most special experiences are related to the aesthetics of a
performance. Some respondents express that aesthetics is a pre-condition to satisfaction with
the performance. This indicates the importance of this motive.
'And it’s logical that you want to see something wonderful, otherwise you wouldn’t go. That
definitely has to be so.' (incidental spectator, respondent 10)
Cognitive stimulation
Less than half of the respondents consider this as important or very important. Only a
minority label this motive as very important. For more than half of the respondents it seems to
be unimportant. Those who consider it as (rather) important want ‘the performer to hold a
mirror up to their face’. They like penetrating remarks of the performer(s), which makes them
think. Some of them want to be inspired professionally or for practising performing arts
themselves. Some respondents relate the importance of this motive to the cultural
socialization of their children. They want performing arts to stimulate their imagination.
Moreover, some respondents want to be able to discuss things with others and to keep up with
the times. Some respondents are energized when their senses are stimulated in a cognitive
way, whereas others claim that this drains their energy. To these latter respondents, the
motive is not important and sometimes it appears that cognitive stimulation is the opposite of
entertainment to them.
'Cabaret: naturally because I want to be entertained, to laugh. And also because of the
shrewdness of the cabaret performer. What’s his view of society. And also the mirror he holds
up to life.’ (incidental spectator, respondent 5)
Many respondents who consider the motive as important or rather important relate it to the
motive of variety and novelty. They want to get acquainted with new or other forms of
performing arts and relate this to a form of learning.
The majority of all customer segments express that reduction is an important or very
important consumption motive. It is very important to a minority. Respondents attach
different meanings to this consumption motive. Many respondents indicate that they find ‘a
nice evening out’, ‘to relax’, ‘escaping from everyday routines’ such as working or taking
care of children, or ‘mental diversion’ is important to them.
‘As a bit of a breather, a moment of rest.’ (core audience, respondent 16)
The respondents show different reactions to the term ‘recover my energy’ on the card they
received. Firstly, many of them argue that recovering energy is not important. They indicate
that they have other leisure pursuits, such as sports, to recover their energy. Secondly,
however, some respondents do indicate that they attend the theatre ‘to recover their energy’ or
‘to get charged up again’. For many respondents this is related to have a nice evening out.
However, a single respondent indicates that she wants to find inspiration in a piece of art,
claiming that this ‘gives her energy’. Thirdly, a few respondents report that apart from being
reenergized by attending a theatre, it also ‘costs them energy’. Sometimes they are uncertain
as to what will happen next on stage or they are not familiar with the music or performance.
Therefore it takes them a little more effort to interpret what they hear or see.
Many respondents relate reduction to the consumption motive of entertainment. To these
customers, attending a theatre performance is a kind of ‘carefree enjoyment’ during a nice
evening out. Some customers relate reduction to the motive of transcendence. During their
evening out they want ‘to be in another world’ and ‘diversion’.
The majority of the respondents state that this was a main motive. Some respondents say it
was their main motive to attend performing arts events.
Several respondents argue that they want to be ‘absorbed’ or to be ‘touched’, but that they did
not need to be ‘entranced’. They indicate that they ‘are not impressed that easily’, or that they
‘are more down-to-earth’. They refer to these emotions as ‘woolly’ and ‘free-floating’. Seeing
that these respondents want to be ‘touched’ or ‘affected’ by the performance, it seems that
transcendence does not cover the meaning of both components of the sentence on the card
which was handed out to the respondents. It seems that a distinction can be made based on
different levels of emotions connected with consumption motives in the performing arts.
Three levels may be distinguished which vary from (1) enjoyment, (2) ‘to be touched’, and
(3) ‘to be entranced’ (see figure 1). Firstly, respondents want to enjoy and ‘experience’ the
beauty. They want the performer ‘to captivate their attention’. This relates to the motive of
aesthetics as discussed previously and may be a basic level of enjoyment. As a consequence,
the consumer may keep a nice memory of the performance afterwards. Secondly, respondents
want to be ‘emotionally touched’ or ‘affected’. They want ‘to be absorbed’ and ‘to be part of
it’, or to ‘feel lost in the performance’. They want to be ‘impressed’, ‘overwhelmed’ so they
‘get goose flesh’. Some want to ‘forget all the other people around them’ and even ‘to forget
themselves’. Others burst into tears laughing. It may lead to discussions at home because the
consumer was really affected by the performance. This level seems to be a higher emotional
level of enjoyment. Thirdly, some respondents want to entranced. They want ‘to be carried
away’, to ‘break loose’ and to be ‘in another world’. Others fall into tears from crying because
the performance relates to emotional personal events. This may lead to unforgettable
experiences for consumers which they will remember for the rest of their lives. Entrancement
may be the highest level of emotional enjoyment and it seems it is equal to the essence of
transcendence. Therefore, three levels of intensity of emotions related to consumption
motives in the performing arts are distinguished: (1) to ‘enjoy’ (aesthetics), (2) to be
‘touched’, and (3) to be ‘entranced’ (transcendence).
'Now, to be entranced, that seems silly to me. I remain with both feet firmly on the ground.
But I can be touched, for example. I can get a lump in my throat sitting in the theatre at a
musical. So then I think that you do become absorbed in it. So that it touches you. But to be
entranced, I think that’s just going a step too far.' (incidental spectator, respondent 10)
Figure 1: Levels of emotions in the performing arts
Some respondents say that ‘to be touched’ or ‘to be entranced’ is not a motive to attend
performing arts, but rather an experience that may occur. However, as discussed before, it
appears that enjoyment is not only an experience, but rather the main consumption motive. It
seems to be the minimum level of consumer emotion that needs to be activated while
attending performing arts events.
Not only aesthetics seems to be related with transcendence. It seems that respondents relate
the motive to be ‘touched’ or to be ‘entranced’ to the motive of ‘reduction’ as well. Finally,
the motives of ‘variety and novelty’ or ‘entertainment’ may cause a consumer to feel
For the majority of the respondents this is an important motive to attend performing arts. For
a minority this is even the most important motive, even more important than aesthetics. Many
respondents report that they attend a theatre because they ‘want to have pleasure’, ‘a pleasant
and entertaining evening out’, ‘have fun’ and ‘amuse themselves’. It seems that pleasure has
different dimensions. Firstly, many customers relate pleasure to ‘fun’, ‘light-hearted’ and
‘entertaining’. This might be referred to as ‘cultural amusement’. Secondly, a few respondents
argue that you can also have pleasure by listening or watching more ‘serious things’. Apart
from pleasure and entertainment, respondents relate this motive also to relaxation in order to
forget their day-to-day worries. Therefore, this motive is related to reduction.
'It doesn’t always necessarily have to be a comedy for it to provide pleasure and
entertainment. We have also sometimes been to a cabaret sort of performance, but then you
can really completely laugh like mad. But you can also go and listen to something very
serious and yet still derive great pleasure from it.' (incidental spectator, respondent 9)
A small minority consider this motive as unimportant. Some respondents argue that they do
not relate, for example, a classical concert to pleasure. Others express that they like to have a
nice evening out, but do not relate this to ‘fun’. It might be that the inclusion of the term
‘entertained’ might have elicited some socially desirable answers from some respondents.
enjoy aesthetics to be touched to be entranced
Variety and novelty
For the majority of the respondents this is an important motive to attend performing arts. They
state that they like to attend unknown performances, artists, or in some cases, unknown
genres. It seems that many respondents combine attending known and unknown performing
arts events on an annual basis. Variety and novelty is not only related to the production side,
but also to the distribution side of performing arts. Some respondents answer that they enjoy
going to theatres they have not visited before in The Netherlands or abroad.
There are several reasons for attending unknown performing arts. Many consumers like to be
‘surprised’ by the artist. Some respondents relate this motive to cognitive stimulation because
they want to ‘broaden their view of the world’, ‘to be able to discuss matters with others’, or
they are ‘curious for new things’. Some respondents want to ‘expand their own boundaries’
and do not always ‘want to be stuck in the same genres’.
'And at ballet, yes, at more modern performing arts, eh ... you also do that sometimes to push
back frontiers a little. Because there are things included which are incredibly modern and,
yeah, to experience things other than those you would normally go for more easily. On the
one hand you submerge yourself in the things which you already enjoy, but on the other hand
also experience new things.’ (incidental spectator, respondent 15)
There are differences to be taken into account when it comes to the willingness to experience
new performances or genres. It appears that many respondents welcome the challenge of
visiting unknown performers or genres. Others, however, prefer to attend performing arts
events they are familiar with. Some respondents indicate that they need ‘a little pushing from
family or friends’ to attend unknown artists. Some customers have a desire to attend an
unknown genre, but due to a lack of interest in the social environment this desire is not
Overall, it seems that attending unknown performing arts relates to the motive of aesthetics
because consumers want to be surprised by special, beautiful performances. To some
respondents this surprise aspect is related to entertainment, whereas others relate it to
cognitive stimulation. It appears that these two elements are opposites on a continuum, with
entertainment being related to passive enjoyment of new cultural experiences, and cognitive
stimulation to enjoyment and active interpretation of a more compound art message.
The majority of the respondents declare that their own company are important and that other
guests attending the theatre are less important to them. Some customers interpret bonding
with family or friends as a goal or motive. However, to other customers it is not a goal but
rather an experience. The meaning of bonding as a goal or consumption motive compared to
the meaning as an experience, is illustrated in figure 2.
Figure 2: Bonding as an experience and as a goal or consumption motive
To some respondents, bonding is an experience rather than a consumption motive. The
company they are with is important, because they like to watch the performance with them,
‘share feelings and experiences’, and to ‘enjoy together’. However, this does not seem to be a
goal of attending performing arts. They only experience performing arts in this way. Other
respondents claim that they want to undertake something together with their family or friends.
Attending a theatre with family or friends is a goal in itself. This seems to be especially
relevant in the relationship between parents/grandparents and children. Some incidental
spectators argue that in some cases they want to undertake a social activity, whereby the exact
character of this activity seems to be less relevant. Clearly, whether bonding is a goal or just
an experience, attending theatres is a social event. Only a few respondents consider their
companions are less important, because they argue that they can attend performing arts events
alone, if necessary.
‘So that really with your friends, acquaintances and family, you also really undertake
something. Obviously they pop in sometimes for a coffee or suchlike, but this is really doing
something together.’ (interested participant, respondent 3)
Most respondents report that other guests (apart from their own company) are not important to
them. There is no need for them to meet other people. However, some members of the core
audience refer to ‘connectedness with the whole audience’. To them, it is the special
atmosphere created by enjoying the event together with all attendees that yields ‘added
value’. Bonding with these people is not a consumption motive, but rather a feeling they
Almost every respondent states that this is not a motive to them to attend performing arts.
Many respondents point out that they attend performing arts because they like to enjoy
performances and that they do not feel the need to belong to these people. Some respondents
argue that members of the audience are not important to them.
Bonding as an
experience Bonding as a goal or
consumption motive
sharing feelings with
enjoying together with
the audience
undertaking something
together with family
or friends
Only a single respondent points out that this motive does play a role in attending theatres. It is
argued that it is interesting to say to some other people that that you attended a performing
arts event. However, the strong impression is that more respondents consider this motive as
rather important, but social desirability prevented them from saying so. During other parts of
the interview many remarks were made in connection with this motive. It seems the motive
has different representations.
Firstly, people point out that they like to enjoy performing arts with like-minded people. They
want to spend their leisure time with congenial groups: persons with the same kind of
humour, personality, or interests. They want to have an elegant night out with people who
know how to behave, just like them. This motive relates to a kind of ‘social attraction’, related
to spending leisure time in a specific social world and social compatibility. It seems to be a
rather important concealed consumption motive. In these cases there is some attraction to a
group. In a few cases, the opposite is found. Some respondents point out that they feel
repelled to join the group of friends of the theatre. They do not want to belong to this group.
‘Yes, actually that always happens automatically because you go to the same performance.
And automatically the same sort of people go who have the same interests.’ (core audience,
respondent 14)
Secondly, people want to express their identities to others and distinguish themselves from
other groups. They like to meet or greet other people before or after the performance or during
the break (including the theatre’s director). Some respondents seem to want to leave
favourable impressions since they dress up to go to the theatre. Others want to be able to join
conversations which come up about performing arts when visiting friends or relatives or at a
party. They want to express that they have attended the theatre lately. A few respondents
compare preferences of the regular group of theatre attendees for specific genres or their own
preferences against those of others. In this process, they argue that the ‘lower class’ does not
attend performing arts events, or that the cinema audience is something different altogether
than the theatre audience. These respondents seem to be proud to belong to the group of
theatre attenders with a specific taste.
‘And the theatre is just something which is not appreciated by the, hey, the lower, the
somewhat lower classes. But this is why I’m also so proud to be, yes, part of that group who
really enjoy visiting the theatre. And these are often the sort of people who you can easily talk
to about something and who are really interested in what’s happening on stage and what
other people are up to.’ (interested participant, respondent 7)
Other motivations
Based on the literature survey, eight consumption motives were defined. Additional motives
were revealed by the interviews.
1. Social duty
Sometimes respondents attended amateur or professional performances given by parents,
children, friends, or relatives. Attendance may also be related to work. A performance is
attended together with some colleagues as an outing or as a school activity for teachers and
‘A girlfriend of mine sings in a church and sometimes they give performances. And my
daughter who plays at M4U, so I go there as well. And a niece who plays at Factorium.’
(interested participant, respondent 11)
2. Passing on cultural interests
Some parents or grandparents attend performing arts to pass on their cultural interests to their
children or grandchildren. They want their children or grandchildren to ‘taste’, ‘scent’, and
‘discover’ performing arts. Sometimes respondents said they themselves were introduced to
the performing arts by their parents too. Whereas in other cases, they really missed this aspect
in their upbringing, and they want to pass it on to their children.
‘We have eight grandchildren so, we never go all together, but always the two of us, with two
grandchildren. This is what we do and we want to continue to do it. We think it’s a small
stimulus to develop an interest in culture’. (interested participant, respondent 6)
Based on a literature survey, eight consumption motives were distinguished. It seems that
each individual interrelates these motives in their own way and from their own perspective.
The main reasons to attend are individual combinations of motives, different in time, and vary
with the company one is with and the type of performance. This study not only shows that
there are many connections between motives, but it also shows that certain definitions have
overlapping elements. For example, the definitions of aesthetics, transcendence, entertainment
and variety and novelty, all refer to experiences which seem to be interrelated.
It seems that having an enjoyable evening out and being touched or affected is a main
motivation of almost every visitor. The way senses are stimulated and the intensity of
emotions appear to determine the success of the performance. In sum then, it appears that
eight motives to attend performing arts can be distinguished on the basis of our qualitative
study, which have some differences compared with the previously defined eight consumption
motives (see figure 3). The study shows that not only the cultural nature but also the social
nature of consumption motives is very important. Therefore, in our new framework of
performing arts consumption motives, we distinguish between cultural and social motives.
Cultural reduction Social attraction
Cultural transmission
Social duty
Social bonding
Social distinction
Figure 3: Framework for consumption motives to attend performing arts
The cultural motives refer to an interest for culture in its own sake:
1. ‘Cultural aesthetics’: This is the core motivation of most respondents. They want to
enjoy performing arts and to be touched or affected by aesthetics.
2. ‘Cultural reduction’: Some respondents want to have a pleasant, enjoyable, carefree
evening out and they want some cultural amusement. They are looking for diversion
and rather passively consume performing arts. This motive mainly integrates reduction
and entertainment, but also relates to aesthetics and variety and novelty.
3. ‘Cultural stimulation’: Some respondents want to have an enjoyable evening out and
want to learn or pick up some inspiration. They rather actively experience performing
arts. Some of them are just regular consumers, others are professionals or amateurs
performing themselves. This motive mainly relates to cognitive stimulation, but also
covers elements of aesthetics, reduction, and variety and novelty.
4. ‘Cultural transmission’: Some respondents want to pass on their cultural interest to
their children or grandchildren and introduce them to the performing arts and guide
them in the cultural field.
The social motives refer to an aim that stretches beyond the cultural purpose of the
performing arts product and relates to the social environment:
1. ‘Social attraction’: Some respondents want to spend their leisure time with like-
minded people. This seems to be a concealed motive.
2. ‘Social distinction’: Some respondents want to distinguish themselves from others and
make favourable a impression. This seems to be a concealed motive as well.
3. ‘Social bonding’: Some respondents want to engage in a social activity with family or
friends and - sometimes coincidentally - choose to go to a performing arts
performance as a leisure pursuit.
4. ‘Social duty’: Sometimes attendance is related to watching performances whereby
family, friends or relatives perform on stage. In some other cases it is work-related
whereby a performance is attended together with some colleagues.
There are some differences with the eight consumption motives which were defined
previously. Firstly, entertainment is not listed as a separate motive. Several respondents relate
this motive directly to reduction and report that they wanted some carefree enjoyment during
a nice evening out. Secondly, variety and novelty is not mentioned as a separate motive.
Respondents relate this motive to aesthetics and stimulation and express that they want to
enjoy beautiful, novel experiences. Thirdly, transcendence is not included because this
appears to be directly related to aesthetics. What’s more, it seems to be an experience, rather
than a motive.
Study 2
Research method
The goal of the second study was to test the model that was developed based on qualitative
findings, and to develop an instrument to measure consumption motives in the performing
Data collection
A cross-sectional study has been carried out among guests of concerthall ‘De Doelen’ in
Rotterdam. This concerthall is the largest hall in The Netherlands offering 600 concerts on an
annual basis. The concerts range from classical music, to jazz and world music. The
quantitative study was carried out in November 2013. An online questionnaire was sent to
714 visitors of a classical music concert (Mozart, performed by Kölner Akademie and Ronald
Brautigam), four days before the actual concert took place. The questionnaire closed on the
afternoon preceding the concert, at which point a total of 220 visitors completed the
questionnaire (a 30.8% response rate). Of those respondents, 134 (60.9%) were male, 86
(39.1%) were female. The majority of the respondents were between 50 and 70 years old,
with a range from 13 to 79 years (M = 58.07, SD = 9.02). Further, respondents were
relatively highly educated, with 75.9% having completed higher professional or academic
education. Thus, our sample was dominated by elderly, highly educated males.
Questionnaire construction
The questionnaire consisted of a number of background variables (age, gender, education
level and household composition), a number of items relating to visitor loyalty (10 items, not
analyzed here), and crucially, a set of 36 items aimed at measuring consumption motives. For
each of the eight motives defined in our qualitative study (see Figure 3), a measurement scale
was constructed consisting of four items. For the cultural aesthetics motive however, a 6-item
scale was used, as this is the most central of all motives. In addition, also for the cultural
reduction motive a 6-item scale was constructed, with 3 items relating to the ‘escape’ aspect
of reduction, and 3 items relating to the ‘recreation’ aspect of reduction. Each item was
preceded by one and the same lead-in phrase (I visit this performance because…) followed by
a statement relating to a particular motive. Responses were scored by 5-point Likert items
ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Where possible, items were taken
from questionnaires used in previously published studies in arts, tourism and sports
(Crompton and McKay, 1997; Fodness, 1994; Funk et al., 2003; Glynn et al., 1996; Kyle et
al., 2006; Swanson et al., 2008). Where necessary, those existing items were adapted for the
performing arts context, and subsequently translated into Dutch. For some of the motives,
existing items were lacking in the literature. Therefore, based on the qualitative study and a
discussion with marketing management of concerthall ‘De Doelen’, a total of 17 items was
constructed by the authors themselves. All items, and their provenance, are given in Table 1.
Data analysis
For each of the motive scales, reliability was assessed using cronbach’s alpha, and then
descriptive statistics were computed. Next, in order to explore whether the quantitative data
support the 8-motives model developed on the basis of the qualitative study (Figure 3), a
principal components analysis (PCA) with VARIMAX rotation was performed, using all 36
consumption motive items as input. Kaiser’s criterion (eigenvalues > 1) was used to
determine the number of components to be retained in the final analysis.
The results of the reliability analysis, and of the PCA, are presented in Table 1. The reliability
analysis indicates that the eight motive scales are all highly reliably (all Cronbach’s alpha’s >
0.84, except for the Cultural Aesthetics motive, where Cronbach’s alpha was 0.721).
Averages of the motive scales are given in Figure 4. From this Figure, it can be seen that
Cultural Aesthetics, Cultural reduction and Social Bonding are the most important
consumption motives across the 220 respondents. Social Duty, Social Distinction and Cultural
Transmission were the least important consumption motives.
Figure 4: scale averages for each of the eight different motives
The exploratory PCA (see Table 1) extracted eight principal components with eigenvalues
larger than 1, that together accounted for 72,1% of the total variance in the data. For most of
the motives, high component loadings were observed only for those items that were
developed to measure that particular motive. This holds for Cultural Reduction, Cultural
Stimulation, and all of the four social motives. In contrast, the items of the Cultural
Transmission scale did not cluster together into one single component, but were distributed
over the components relating to Social Distinction, Cultural Stimulation, and to a lesser extent
Social Bonding. Finally, the six items of the Cultural Aesthetics scale loaded on two different
components. The first four items loaded on a component that can be interpreted as Artistic
Value, while the last two items of this scale, that specifically adressed the beauty and
enjoyment of the performance, loaded onto a separate component, that we tentatively refer to
as Enjoyment of Beauty of the performance, and the sensory enjoyment thereoff. We
measured Cultural Reduction by two dimensions (escape and recreation). However, both
these dimensions very clearly cluster together in one component.
Table 1. Results of the reliabilty analysis and of the PCA.
Motive Item Sour-
ce * Cron-
bach C1
loadings** C2
loadings** C3
loadings** C4
loadings** C5
loadings** C6
loadings** C7
loadings** C8
Because of its artistic value. 1 0.721 .780
Because it is a form of art. 1 .480
because I expect it to be of a high artistic level 2 .837
to enjoy its beauty/grace 1 .521
to see a beautiful performance 2 .806
because I want to enjoy the performance 2 .818
To forget about my problems 1 0.849 .741
To temporarily escape life’s problems 1 .520 .410
To get away from it all 1 .788
To relax 1 .760
To have a nice evening out 1 .775
To enjoy myself 1 .706
Because I want to get intellectually stimulated 2 0.868 .743
Because I want to learn about music 3 .677
Because it gives me food for thought 2 .848
Because I want to be challenged to think about certain issues 2 .750
Cultural trans-
In order to transmit my cultural interests to 'important others' 2 0.896 .636 .476
To get beloved ones in touch with performing arts 2 .435 .536
To stimulate cultural interests of people that are important to me 2 .521 .592
To give people that are important to me the chance to learn to appreciate
this form of art 2 .596
To be with others who enjoy the same things I do 4 0.892 .644
To meet other people with similar interests as myself 5 .439 .538
Because it is a chance to be with like-minded people 5 .480 .627
To speak with other people with similar interests as myself 2 .640
Because it is a nice opportunity to be together with family or friends 2 0.866 .768
To have a nice evening with family or friends 2 .817
To bond with friends and/or family 2 .695
To share the moment with my friends 5 .487 .572
Because I like to tell others about my performing arts visits 6 0.855 .605
Because arts performances are an excellent conversation topic on social
events 7 .783
Because people in my social environment value attendances in performing
arts 7 .488
Because it gives me the opportunity to talk about the experience I had with a
performance 6 .815
Social duty
To spend time with my colleagues or professional relationships 2 0.893 .755
Because I received an invitation from a colleague / professional relationship 2 .792
To meet people from my professional environment 2 .668
To strengthen my professional network 2 .882
Percent variance explained per factor (total variance explained: 72.1%) 12.45% 11.68% 10.13% 10.10% 9.95% 7.01% 6.09% 4.75%
* 1: Swanson et al. (2008); 2: self-constructed item; 3: Kyle et al. (2006); 4: Crompton et al. (1997); 5: Funk et al. (2003); 6: Fodness et al. (1994); 7: Glynn et al. (1996).
** component loadings < 0.40 are not displayed in this table for reasons of visual clairity. The highest component loading for each individual item is printed in bold.
Based on a literature review we explored consumption motives in the performing arts in a
qualitative study. We proposed a framework of eight consumption motives expressing its
cultural and social nature. ‘Cultural Aesthetics’ is in the heart of the framework because it is
the core motivation of most respondents. This framework was tested and largely confirmed in
a quantitative study. The quantitative study confirmed six motives derived from the
qualitative study: Cultural Reduction, Cultural Stimulation, Social Attraction, Social Bonding,
Social Distinction and Social Duty. Further, the quantitative data confirmed that escape and
recreation cluster together in one single motive, Cultural Reduction. Finally, the quantitative
study shows that the core motive ‘Cultural Aesthetics’ has two dimensions: Artistic Value and
Enjoyment of Beauty. The qualitative and quantitative study clearly show the cultural and
social nature of the consumption motives.
The quantitative study showed that the items of Cultural Transmission clustered together with
three other motives: (1) Social Distinction (one can distinguish oneself by making friends
interested in arts), (2) Cultural Stimulation (some people do not only want to learn or to be
challenged by arts themselves, but they want to stimulate others as well), (3) Social Bonding
(to transmit cultural interest is a chance to socialize at the same time). Therefore, the
quantitative data suggest that Cultural Transmission is not an independent dimension in the
set of consumption motives.
Some social motives seem to be concealed. This corresponds with suggestions of Nolan et al.
(2008) and Priebe and Spink (2011). These authors argue that many people are not aware of
the influence of others on their behaviour. Many individuals refer to personal reasons rather
than external reasons to explain their motivation. Our study contributes to filling the gap in
the literature regarding the social aspects of consumption motives. The study illustrates
various social motives and the existence of the ‘social arts consumer’. Consumers want to
connect with friends, they are attracted by like-minded people and they want to express their
identity. The results correspond with earlier ideas that consumer behaviour is highly symbolic
(Arnould and Thompson, 2005). Past literature on consumption motives focused on
distinction and neglected self-expression and social attraction. Nevertheless, leisure is an
opportunity to create an identity for the outside world (Hesmondhalgh, 2008).
The importance of aesthetics and reduction and the relatively limited importance of cognitive
stimulation correspond with an earlier study of Roose and Waege (2003). The rather limited
importance of cognitive stimulation may be remarkable given audience development goals of
performing arts, such as audience education. It seems that cognitive stimulation is more
important in other arts sectors, such as museums and art galleries (Axelsen, 2007; Kim Lian
Chan, 2009).
A small core audience is responsible for buying a large number of performing arts tickets (De
Haan and Knulst, 2000; Tomlinson and Roberts, 2006; Arts Council England, 2007). In The
Netherlands, approximately 9% of the population buy 44% of the tickets (Kramer, 2007).
Traditionally, arts policy focused on broadening audiences and inclusion of minority groups
not attending arts before. However, there are doubts as to whether any form of art has
attracted specific new target groups due to the subsidy policy (Abbing, 2009; Kooke, 2007).
Figures from the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) show that the audience
segments attending performing arts have not changed a lot. The main segments are still the
higher educated and native-born consumers (Van den Broek et al., 2009). A British study
shows that cultural attendance of people in lower social classes is not only lower than that of
the higher social classes, but the study also shows that the difference in attendance rates
increased from 1991 to 2003 (Voase, 2013). This study shows that consumer choice is partly
shaped by social motives such as self-expression and social attraction. It seems that these
social motives explain the existence of a relatively small social community: symbolic routine
consumption practices may mainly maintain and not broaden social worlds. Caru and Cova
(2006) even argue that social rituals have an ‘exclusionary function’. Thus, contrary to social
inclusion and attracting a new audience, it might be that social exclusion has taken place.
This implies that consumers do not only need cultural competences to understand the
encrypted works of art and to cross cultural boundaries, they also need to cross social
Research limitations
The application of quota sampling, a sufficient number of respondents, and accurate
documentation contribute to the reliability of the qualitative study. Nevertheless, there are a
few limitations. Firstly, introspection might have decreased the degree of reliability. The
question is, to what extent did respondents report their true inner thoughts and feelings? It is
recognized that respondents perhaps sometimes gave socially desirable answers or that they
were unable to reflect on unconscious thoughts. Secondly, the study is a case study and the
results relate to one specific theatre. Therefore, problems with external validity are
recognized. The quantitative study was also carried out in a performing arts context, but for a
different organization (concert hall). A limitation of the quantitative study is that a specific
audience (classical music attenders) filled out the questionnaire. Therefore, there is a need for
replication of the current findings with different audiences from different performing arts
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Full-text available
Business‐like approaches are applied more and more widely in nonprofit organization contexts, and theaters are no exception. Revenue generation, customer segmentation, and personalized marketing are becoming the key managerial concerns. Our study focuses on two relevant aspects of theater attendees' behavior. We examine visitors' willingness‐to‐pay (WTP) for theater seats (to derive revenue drivers), and its difference between two segments – single and couple visitors (to uncover the social motivation effect). These aspects taken together have never been previously studied in the nonprofit marketing context. We model WTP using the actual purchase data from Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre in Russia. Unlike most marketing studies which use stated preference for WTP evaluation, we employ the revealed preference approach. The results verify that single and couple visitors may be treated as separate segments, allowing for personalized promotion and other marketing decisions.
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Social experience has not figured prominently in the social psychology of leisure in the past, though the qualities of leisure experience itself—feelings of freedom, intrinsic interest, self-determination, and enjoyment—have had a defining and guiding role. The experience design movement has revitalized prospects for leisure service management based to some extent on this earlier work; but both experience design and basic social psychological research into the dynamics and effects of leisure experience might well give more attention to the nature of self in social contexts, the dynamics of social engagement including “shared flow,” and the integrative and disintegrative effects of enjoyable social interaction. Experience design can indeed protect personal autonomy and concern itself with “downstream effects,” but investigators would be wise to consider both personal development and social integration in the process, preferably with participatory action research that monitors social experience.
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One way to reduce the distance between consumers and aesthetic objects is to use referents that provide consumers with a sense of security and that facilitate their immersion. The authors use an exhibition in Milan, Italy, titled The 1970s: The Long Decade in The Short Century as a laboratory to investigate whether young people are able to immerse themselves in an experiential context that is made up of referents (in this case, to the 1970s decade) that are mostly alien to them. The results show that, together with a lack of meaningful referents, the inability to make links between these referents constitutes a major barrier to immersion. The authors highlight the need for curators to manage referents in the framework of an exhibition and establish the complementary role that a guide might play, especially for people belonging to different generations.
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In the past decade, Pine and Gilmore set out the vision for a new economic era, the experience economy, in which consumers are in search for extraordinary and memorable experiences. Since then, a rich body of research on applications of the experience economy concepts have appeared in the marketing literature. However, academic investigations on the measurement of tourism experiences are very recent. The purpose of this article is twofold: to identify the underlying dimensions of cruisers' experiences and to investigate the relationships among cruisers' experiences, satisfaction, and intention to recommend. Overall, findings of this study enhance the theoretical progress on the experiential concept in tourism and offer important implications for cruise marketers.
I: Background.- 1. An Introduction.- 2. Conceptualizations of Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination.- II: Self-Determination Theory.- 3. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Perceived Causality and Perceived Competence.- 4. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Interpersonal Communication and Intrapersonal Regulation.- 5. Toward an Organismic Integration Theory: Motivation and Development.- 6. Causality Orientations Theory: Personality Influences on Motivation.- III: Alternative Approaches.- 7. Operant and Attributional Theories.- 8. Information-Processing Theories.- IV: Applications and Implications.- 9. Education.- 10. Psychotherapy.- 11. Work.- 12. Sports.- References.- Author Index.
This note reports an interim finding from a study-in-progress. The purpose of the study is to examine trends in cultural attendance against changes in the socio-economic profile of the UK population. It was expected that, as the ABC1 middle class expanded, it would generate a higher volume of cultural attendances; but that, as a ‘mass’ middle class with diluted cultural behaviours, its relative propensity to do so would diminish. A paucity of comparable data inhibits long-term comparisons. However, in the case of museum and gallery attendance, a comparison was possible. The results were counter-intuitive: from 1991 to 2003, ABC1 cultural attendance increased in both absolute and relative terms; for the C2DE groups, it lessened in both respects. This has implications for audience development initiatives.