Target Resource Group conducted an analysis of 1.64 million transactions that took place from 2003 to 2008 at 17 regional museums and cultural organizations. The analysis outlines migratory patterns, i.e., when patrons
began and ended paid patronage, and how patronage lapsed and was reactivated over the study period. Transactions included in the study were single admission and subscription purchases, memberships, and individual donations.
The study reveals strong success in attracting new patrons each year, but serious challenges in retaining these patrons beyond a one-time experience (or transaction). The key finding from the study is that in the Philadelphia
region, two out of three patrons who attended a cultural event did not come back to any of the 17 organizations the next year.
The study found three dominant categories of customer behavior:
- One-timers, the dominant category, represent patron households that made one and only one transaction with any of the 17 organizations in the study within the study period.
- Return-after-lapse are patrons who resumed paid transactions after an absence from any of the 17 organizations for a year or more.
- Loyalists, the smallest category, are households that invested in paid transactions with any of the 17 organizations each year of three or more years of the study period.
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The Paid Patronage Study was one of the five research projects commissioned by the Cultural Alliance for Research into Action: Pathways to New Opportunities, and is part of Engage 2020, an initiative focused on doubling cultural engagement in Greater Philadelphia by 2020.
Research Into Action and the Engage 2020 initiative are sponsored by a lead grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, with additional support from The Wallace Foundation and The Philadelphia Foundation.