How might we create a 21st Century theatre experience?

Inspirational Insight

The National Theatre’s attendance grew by 24.76% following this report.


National Theatre case study post it

Nation Theatre’s Challenge

Culture has become competitive. Budget airlines, cinemas and department stores compete with art galleries, theatres and clubs for people’s time. With more consumers seeking different ‘cultural experiences’, the National Theatre needed to understand how to engage a younger, more dynamic audience to propel themselves into the 21st Century.


The Sense Worldwide Approach

We believed that in order for the research to fulfil its potential, we had to consider the immediate and adjacent factors influencing the cultural industry and how the ‘entertainment’ landscape is composed from a consumer perspective.

To kick off the study we reviewed all existing audience research to develop a foundational understanding of the business and to ensure we did not reinvent the wheel. We then conducted extensive desk research and media scanning to understand the external factors shaping cultural experiences in the UK.


How The Sense Network Shaped The Future of Theatre Attendance

We then invited members of the Sense Network to visit the theatre, attend a performance and use the facilities so we could understand consumer attitudes to culture and the National Theatre itself. This work was then followed up with observational research to understand how the building and environment was really being used by people from the moment it opened to the time it closed.

National Theatre Exterior

The Outcome

Sense created a comprehensive research and analysis document using a range of methodologies from observational to desk research. The document included an initial research synthesis, cultural industry dynamics, consumer attitudes and behaviours towards culture, from which Sense Worldwide delivered a detailed strategic plan.

The plan covered operational and marketing issues from the brand, through to signage, catering, merchandise and marketing. The document was debriefed at Board level with the executive team to help inform and inspire the future development of the National Theatre.


The Result

National Theatre’s attendance grew by 24.76% between 2012 and 2015 following this report (from 2,347,000 to 2,928,000).


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