Classical Music Concert Attendance and Older Adults: A Goal-Directed Approach

By Tong, Eudora; White, Christopher James et al. | Journal of Leisure Research, March 15, 2016 | Go to article overview

Classical Music Concert Attendance and Older Adults: A Goal-Directed Approach


Tong, Eudora, White, Christopher James, Fry, Tim, Journal of Leisure Research


Introduction

For well over a decade, orchestral organizations have been concerned about declining audiences at classical music concerts (Dempster, 2000; Kolb, 2001). The high costs of production, increasing demands for returns on their contributions by governmental and private sponsors (Lindblom, 2009), and the aging of the current audiences all combine to create challenges for this particular art form. Crappell (2011) argues that "we must avoid the expectation that the general population will automatically gravitate toward the inherent value of classical music" and instead suggests the classical music industry should communicate clearly with consumers in easily understood ways (Crappell, 2011). For such communication strategies to succeed, they need to reflect a good understanding of consumer characteristics; in the case of classical music, demographic aspects provide particularly interesting possibilities for exploration (Hayes & Slater, 2002; Pennington-Gray, Fridgen, & Stynes, 2003).

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, classical music attendance between 2005 and 2010 increased steadily among consumers aged 65 to 74. A U.K. study revealed that older people were overrepresented in classical music audiences, and in France, the Ministry of Culture notes that half of all concert goers were 55 years or older (Limelight, 2012). In developing countries, this trend is also apparent; older adults worldwide appear more financially secure and more willing to spend on leisure consumption than younger consumers (Pearce, 2008), making them of great interest to leisure marketers and managers alike (Huang & Tsai, 2003).

Research related to classical music in arts and leisure literature focuses on demographics (Kolb, 2001), ethnicity (Van Wel, Linssen, Kort, & Jansen, 1996), performance quality, consumer satisfaction (Barlow & Shibli, 2007; Radbourne, Glow, & Johanson, 2010), economic versus experiential value (Walmsley, 2013), and the role of cultural capital (Caldwell & Woodside, 2003). Although useful from a practitioner perspective, much of this research lacks a sound empirical underpinning; to address this gap, we apply the model of Goal-Directed Behavior (MGB), an enhancement of the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), to explicate the mechanisms that initiate desires to attend classical music concerts and foster post-attendance positive word-of-mouth behavior among older adults.

To the best of our knowledge, no published studies apply the MGB to older adults, though research into older adults behaviors and decision-making processes using the TPB is considerable, with a predominant focus on areas such as technology usage, exercise, health, finances, and investments (Conn, Tripp-Reimer, & Maas, 2003; Kim, Reicks, & Sjoberg, 2003; PenningtonGray et al., 2003; van Dam, van der Vorst, & van der Heijden, 2009). This broad, diverse literature makes it difficult to formulate coherent hypotheses or propositions relevant to this study. Specifically, no consistent terminology exists because various studies use terms such as senior, older adults, aged, and Baby Boomers. We find no consensus about what chronological age delineates different samples and the geographical locations also vary across studies. Finally, we find no studies that have applied the TPB to understand classical music concert audiences, and we posit that the actions associated with retirement investments, exercise, or eating convenience foods do not translate easily to a classical music consumption experience.

Model of Goal-Directed Behavior (MGB)

The TPB has a long connection with leisure research. The earliest reported empirical work was published in the Journal of Leisure Research and Journal of Leisure Science over two decades ago (Ajzen & Driver, 1991, 1992). The TPB continues to play a significant role in leisure theory development and application (Henderson, Presley, & Bialeschki, 2004; Vagias, Powell, Moore, & Wright, 2014). …

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