Audience Answers Coming Soon!

A look at how all different kinds of people across the UK think about and engage with the food, drink and retail offerings attached the cultural venues they might attend

December 2022

Through examining evidence from the latest wave of Cultural Participation Monitor data, this recorded session takes a look at people's attitudes towards, preferences regarding, and spending habits within the onsite shops and cafés of the arts venues or heritage sites that they are primarily visiting.

Who's buying?

Interestingly, over half of visitors who purchase something in a cultural 'gift' shop are actually doing so for themselves, rather than as a gift for someone else.

People most commonly buy for:

  1. themselves (53%),
  2. followed by children they're with (28%),
  3. then adults they aren't (15%).

Variations by Age and Family Status

Though these habits break down more specifically by the age and family situation of the spender:

Who people buy for scale.png

Who people buy for.png

Who people buy for x Age.png

  • Younger adults and those without dependent children living in their households are the most likely to buy for themselves.
  • This inclination declines proportionally with age, with over 55-year-olds being especially likely to be buying a 'gift' for adults not attending with them.
  • Middle-aged groups and those with dependent children in the household are the most likely to be buying for children they are with - and the younger the child, the more likely this becomes.
  • Interestingly, across all categories, people are relatively unlikely to use cultural venue gift shops to buy gifts for children not present at the time.

Variations by Financial Situation

Almost half the population said that they are worse off financially than pre-pandemic, a decline that was actually more prominent among non-family groups.

How this affected purchasing patterns:

  • Family groups who felt both better and worse off retain the same pattern of buying more for their children - especially the younger ones.
  • Parents who felt better off than before actually became more inclined to buy things for themselves as well.
  • People without dependent children remained overwhelmingly more likely to buy exclusively for themselves, regardless of if they felt worse off or not.
Better or worse off by family status.png Who better or worse of people buy for.png

Feelings of being worse off than before the pandemic, and likely to spend less, translate into less inclination to visit arts venues' gift shops (and, to a lesser extent, cafés) at all, across all types of cultural activity. Visiting shops or cafes scale.png
Buying from gift shops by better or worse off.png Visiting cafes by better or worse off.png

Looking to the future:

  • In general, 26-35% of all people say that they are less likely to go to a gift shop for all artforms than before the pandemic, while only 8-9% said they were more likely.
  • Overall, intentions to visit venues' cafés are similar to gift shops but less marked, with 21-26% less likely and 13-18% more likely to do so.
  • Shop footfall is therefore likely to fall further than café footfall.
  • Unsurprisingly, people who feel better off, regardless of whether they have families or not, while still being less likely to buy from gift shops than before the pandemic, are still more likely to plan to do so than those worse off.
  • Bucking the general trend, better off groups actually express more inclination to visit cultural venues cafes then they did pre-pandemic, perhaps reflecting a renewed desire to take advantage of social opportunities.
  • The overall picture for cultural venues is that, while family groups are more likely to attend an event, better off groups are more likely to spend in shops and cafés - so simply focussing on attendance figures won't automatically translate into revenue from ancillary retail offers.

'Light Green' Audiences?

Overall Attitudes to Environmental Alternatives

In this wave, we asked specifically about visitors expectations and preferences for cultural venues shops and cafés in terms of environmentalism and sustainability.

Green payment potential.png

At 58%, most say they are prepared to pay more for green alternatives, but few would happily spend more than 20% more.

  • Almost 4 in 10 of those who wouldn't pay more would still prefer green alternatives, if at the same price.
  • This suggests that there is scope for greener offers, but that price sensitivity remains important.
  • Willingness to pay more for green alternatives was substantially higher among younger groups, and for those in the lowest quartile by IMD.
  • Families (especially younger ones) also prioritised greener alternatives.
  • Affluence, we found, does not translate to greener priorities, with respondents in lower engaged (and typically lower income) Audience Spectrum groups more likely to say they would pay more for more sustainable options.

Food and Drink Preferences and Requirements

Interestingly, we found that the overlap between people who are motivated by different sustainability markers - i.e. willingness to pay more for green options, vegetarianism/veganism, and prioritising ethical and local sourcing - is relatively small...

Ethical preferences and dietary requirments for cafes.png Cafe preferences ven diagram with labels.png

  • Nearly 1 in 5 are looking for locally sourced/ethical products and 1 in 7 seek vegetarian or vegan options.
  • More than 4 in 10 have either ethical food preferences or other another dietary requirement/preference from those listed.
  • 14% look for vegetarian options - increasingly true amongst women, urbanites and Asian/Asian British audiences.
  • Younger age groups were much more likely to look for each of the options listed, as were Metroculturals and Experience Seekers.
  • The preference for vegan options falls away more quickly with age than the more ‘mainstream’ vegetarian preference (17% cf. 12% among 16-24s; 7% cf. 1% for 75+).
  • Vegetarianism was also much higher among those from Asian/Asian British backgrounds (25%, cf. 14% overall), as was the desire for halal options (40% cf. 6% overall).
  • We can see that - given that if one person in a group can't attend, then the whole groups can't attend (especially with families) - having a full range of options available is increasingly important to both inclusivity and revenue.

So let's see what else the data is saying...

Download the Data Presentation