Gemma Berry
Written by

As a touring theatre company without a centralised box office, Stellar Quines faced challenges accessing reliable audience data to inform their marketing strategy and underpin funding applications. We helped identify their key audiences and how to reach them effectively.

Stellar Quines is a touring theatre company which celebrates the value and diversity of women and girls in everything they do, whether it’s making new theatre productions, telling women’s stories, championing campaigns or nurturing artists.

In 2016, Jemima Levick took over as Artistic Director and under her direction the company looked to review the delivery of its mission and vision.

In a period of change and reflection it was helpful to know what our audiences thought of us, compared to what we thought they’d say.

Rebecca Davis, Producer, Stellar Quines

As a touring company, Stellar Quines doesn’t own a venue or have a centralised box office, therefore it can find it challenging to get reliable audience data.

The company needed strong data. Stellar Quines were writing a new business plan, which was to be the foundation of their RFO application to Creative Scotland.

Access to data

Stellar Quines has been a Culture Republic Partner for two years, and the organisation came to us to access their aggregate box office data, which we can provide.

They were looking for comprehensive research to help them understand their audience make up and test brand perceptions against the company mission. With this, their planning and communications could be informed by evidence rather than assumption.

To find out more about the company’s audience, we designed an online survey to reach attenders and non-attenders of their events. Stellar Quines promoted the survey on their social media and emailed it to bookers of their performances, using both the company’s database of 1,000 contacts as well as venue-provided contact information. Non-bookers were made aware of the survey through newsletters and social media of regular Stellar Quines performance venues.

Group of 4 people on stage standing in a line all holding onto a white sheet that is being held by another person standing a few stairs up. Dressed in old Scottish clothing

The View From Castle Rock (2016) photo by Alan McCredie

Taking things a step further, we also used our own relationships with venues and box offices in Scotland to add Stellar Quines bookers and non-bookers to the survey. We supported Stellar Quines in promoting the survey via social channels and advised that they include a prize draw to encourage participation.

In addition to the survey, we analysed booking data from box offices around the country. Using this we segmented respondents to build up profiles of just who Stellar Quines’ audience are and what motivates them to attend.

Working with Culture Republic to get not just data, but also insight was really helpful in practically identifying how it could be used to inform our plans.

Rebecca Davis, Producer, Stellar Quines.

What we found

A response rate of around a third to the survey provided some extremely encouraging results. The research showed that Stellar Quines’ audience was mostly female. The women tended to have a strong involvement in the arts and were motivated by hearing women’s stories.

Let’s get specific. As expected, respondents were mainly female (78%). However, the age range of respondents was younger than predicted, with the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups making up 48% of the overall response. Most were employed, self-employed or students.

Interestingly, the majority were in some way involved in the arts themselves, including 72% who had professional involvement. Most respondents were from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Stellar Quines’ current audience is highly engaged with theatre, with 37% having seen more than 10 plays in the last 12 months. One notable finding was that when choosing to see plays, the reputation of the theatre company and topic were more important motivations than simply being entertained. For attendees of Stellar Quines’ plays specifically confirmed this. Their main motivations for booking were the company’s reputation, professional interest and to support Stellar Quines.

While just over a third of respondents would be more likely to see a play written by a woman or with a female creative team, 56% were more motivated to attend if the play featured women’s stories.

Reaching the audience
Our findings also revealed the value of social media for Stellar Quines. Nearly three quarters of respondents found out what was on via social media. Stellar Quines have an established Twitter presence, with nearly 3,000 followers and a growth rate over twice that of comparable organisations. These findings provide evidence that continuing to invest in social channels is an effective way of engaging with potential audiences. Of people who had attended Stellar Quines plays or events the majority had found out through a recommendation from a friend or directly from Stellar Quines e-news.

woman on stage looking out beyond audience with worried look on her face
The Deliverance (2015) photo by Marc Marnie

Empowered by data

The results of this research provided Stellar Quines with information to make evidence based plans to support both their funding application and business planning activity. This has particularly helped inform an audience focused and segmented marketing strategy for 2018–21.

Stellar Quines received fantastic responses to audience satisfaction questions, with a huge 96% happy with performances and 87% ready to recommend the company to a friend. This high level of satisfaction is helping to build a strong reputation for Stellar Quines.

Finally, the research identified a key area issue to take ticket sales that bit further. For those who had never attended a Stellar Quines play, the biggest reason was that they simply didn’t know the events were being held.

opportunity for growth

94% of those who hadn’t seen a play were actively engaged in the arts and an excellent target demographic for the company to reach out to. If more could be done to reach these people, we predict that Stellar Quines would see a big uplift in attendance.

In response to the data, Stellar Quines has developed a segmented marketing strategy, focused on tailoring communications through content and platform. This ensures the right people know about events and what will appeal to them. They are building on their social media strategy in response to the potential identified by the research findings. These have also provided a benchmark to analyse the effectiveness of any activities implemented as a result this research.

We can move forward now with greater confidence using information based on evidence and with audiences at the focus of our marketing, communications and planning.

Rebecca Davis, Producer, Stellar Quines.

If you need help with measuring your audience profile for funding applications or strategic planning, feel free to contact us and we can talk through how we can help.

Main image credit: The Last Queen of Scotland (2017) photo by Jane Hobson