Sunday, November 21, 2010


Edutourism – a new portmanteau and one that in my opinion is worthy of recognition, my views are of course not always reflected by the wider academic community many of whom are reticent to use such contemporary terms. I was privileged to recently attend and deliver a presentation at the first Canadian EduTourism Association (CETA) conference held in Havana, Cuba. The conference theme was around sustainable edutourism. The term edutourism was challenged by several speakers, who questioned whether the term was actually necessary. I personally feel that we need to be bold in our thinking when it comes to terminology, it will take time for a term like edutourism to properly filter into academic speak, but it is inevitable that if we don’t start the ball rolling now, then eventually somebody else will.

As to the debate as to whether or not we need such a term – yes of course we do – as edutourism as a concept exists, and there is not currently a term for it in its own right. One argument presented against the term edutourism was that we don’t need such a term, as tourism for the purposes of education has always existed. In my mind this point is flawed, as we already use terms such as medical tourism and business tourism, and these forms of tourism have existed since man began to travel.

I believe that we definitely do need to have a clear definition of what edutourism is, I would like to offer the following definition, which I hope covers the subject without being too specific and narrowing the terms remit: “The sum total of activities associated with tourism for the specific purpose of learning and / or education”. This definition allows for the interpretation to include all aspects of the tourism system, including, searching, booking, travel, accommodation and destination activities.

From an entertainment management perspective, it is the activities which take place in the destination zone of the tourism system, which are of greatest relevance, the activities that I allude to are those relating to edutainment. This was the theme of the presentation that I presented at the CETA conference, which was entitled ‘Responsible Edutainment in the Tourism System’ and can be downloaded from SlideShare here. I would be happy to hear the thoughts of others on the subject of edutourism, edutainment and indeed any other portmanteaus!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Event Flyers: Classification, Conent, Design and Distribution

‘The purpose of a flyer is to convey information within a limited time-span’ (Lapow Toor, 1998, p.111).  Flyers are commonly used for announcing events, products and services, they can be used as a means of generating consumer footfall and sales (Gazquez-Abad and Sanchez-Perez, 2009).  They are one of many mass-communication marketing tools used by marketers and promoters, mass-communication indicates that flyers are a form of ‘push-promotion’ that are not specifically targeted at individuals personally (Moss, S, 2009).  A flyer should ‘draw attention to itself and capture’s people’s interest.  It gives them a reason to act immediately on that interest.  And it gives them the information they need to do so’ (Peterson and Vactor, 2002).  According to Crandall (2002), flyer’s are the cheapest form of written promotional materials.

Rutherford Silvers (2003) state that flyers ‘create awareness and provide information’ (p.97), they are ‘an introduction, an ice-breaker and first step’ (Levinson and Godin, 1996, p.79).  Flyers can be used as part of a combined promotional campaign that is intended to create ‘buzz’ before an event takes place (Locicero, 2007).  In terms of event promotion the useful life-span of the flyer is mainly until the event takes place.  The majority of flyers are quickly disposed of by recipients of them, although retention of flyers up to and beyond events taking place may lead to brand reinforcement amongst customers, particularly if similar future events are held.  Sloane (2007) notes that flyers are often disposed of quickly by recipients due to poor design or them being distributed to the wrong target market.

Flyers can also be used to gather consumer information, they may have a section, upon which customers may record personal details, such as contact details, which may be used by the flyer distributor to target the customer with specific marketing materials.  In such scenarios, providing this information is often incentivised and in return for this, the customer may be eligible for a gratuity such as a monetary discount or a free gift (Lipe, 2002).


There is no universally recognised industry standard classification for flyer types, and the interpretation of what actually constitutes being a flyer varies, ‘terms such as catalogue, free sheet, circular or shopper can be found as synonyms for flyers’ (Gazquez-Abad and Sanchez-Perez, 2009, p.3).  Lapow Toor (1998), Peterson and Vactor (2002), Whitbread (2001) and Yadin (2002) state that a flyer is a single or double sided sheet of paper, where as Christiansen and Bjerre (2001) cited in (Gazquez-Abad and Sanchez-Perez, 2009) and Gagliardi (2006) state that a flyer should have a minimum of four pages. 

Flyers are often typically classified by size, for example Lapow Toor (1998) classifies flyers by size using the following dimensions: 8 1/2” x 11”; 8 1/2” x 14”; and 11” x 17” (p.111).  Sources within the print industry use weight, size, paper finish and sometimes folds as a means of classifying flyers, however this mainly applies to those flyers that are printed upon paper.  Weight is given using the term gsm or gm, which stands for grams per square metre.  For example E-Printing (2010) classify flyers by their weight with the following classifications: 130gsm; 170gsm; 200gsm; 250gsm; and 300gsm – the higher the gsm, the better quality and more expensive is the paper.  E-Printing (2010) also use size as a way by which to classify flyer types, their sizes include: A3 (297 x 420mm); A4 (210 x 297mm); A5 (210 x 148mm); A6 (148 x 105mm); A7 (105 x 74mm) and DL (210 x 98mm).  Taking into account the fact that any size flyer can be printed on any gsm paper, there are 25 variants of flyer type just from what has been stated above.  This does not take into account the other formats that E-Printing produce such as folded leaflets and postcards (e-Printing offer five different formats of each), which from a promotional perspective could also be considered flyers.  In terms of paper finish, the most common types are ‘gloss’ and ‘silk’, the difference being that gloss has a high sheen finish giving it a more ‘shiny’ appearance.

By searching the websites of other printers, similar results can be found.  Wales Print (2010) offer flyers in A4, A5, A6 and DL sizes, but only on 130 gsm paper.  They also offer A5 and A6 postcards on 350 gsm paper; four-page leaflets on A4, A5 and A6 130 gsm paper; and 6 page DL leaflets on 130 gsm paper.  Wales Print also offer A3 sizes, however they classify these as posters and not flyers.  Labcreation (2010) classify flyers and leaflets together, they offer folded leaflets in the following sizes: 3 x A4 folder three times to A4 size; A3 folded to A4; A4 folded to A5; and A4 folded to six-sided DL size.  In addition to this they offer A3, A4, A5, A6 and DL sized leaflets on a choice of 135, 170 and 250 gsm paper.  This demonstrates differences in classification by printers as to what is a flyer, leaflet or poster, and differences in paper weight used by printers, but at the same time it demonstrates similarities in standard paper sizes.  The lack of a universally recognised and industry standard typology for flyers is all too apparent.

Content and Design

Flyers should be written in a typeface that is easily readable such as Sans Serif or Arial fonts as they are often skim-read (Lapow Toor, 1998).  Flyers should be catchy (Peterson and Vactor, 2002), colourful flyers are often eye-catching (Locicero, 2007).  Flyers should be designed with an attention seeking headline placed prominently, followed by a small amount of text containing essential information and a visual such as a photograph (Lapow Toor, 1998).  Levinson and Godin (1996) state that the headline on a flyer is one of the most important aspects to it, they also state that wording should be brief, including lists and bullet points, suggesting that the main information contained on a flyer should be: the headline; a positioning statement; an illustration or photo; a small amount of company information; and brief names and descriptions of products and services (p.78).  Peterson and Vactor (2002) state that a flyer should be a ‘one-subject announcement’ (p.84), and that event flyers should contain the following essential information: a logo; the event name and description; the location; contact details; time and date; a brief benefit statement; and a call to action (p.85).  Sloane (2007) states that flyers should contain a web address where interested parties may then search for further information about what the flyer is promoting.

The theme of flyers including logos, design and wording should match other promotional mediums that are being used to highlight what it is the flyer is promoting, this helps to enforce brand awareness by promoting a consistent identity, thus creating a cohesive promotional campaign (Carter, 2007).  The presence of high-profile and recognisable brands on flyers can make them more appealing to consumers (Gazquez-Abad and Sanchez-Perez, 2009).  Spending large amounts of money on flyer design, including the material upon which it is printed, may not necessarily lead to improved sales, but it may convey a more successful image of the company using the flyer (Lipe, 2002).  Sloane (2007) suggests the use of thick high quality paper for flyers, although this does bring expense implications, Hayden (2006) states that if flyers look home-made or unprofessional, potential customers may view what the flyers are promoting in the same way.

Levinson and Codin (1996) state that the use of humour on flyers can be effective in encouraging people to take them, although this may not be universally correct or appropriate.  Masterman and Wood (2005) suggest that flyer designs should be tested amongst audiences prior to production, including: concept tests, where focus groups made up of target audiences, may be used to discuss which words, colours and images best promote a theme; and rough tests, where rough drafts of flyer designs are put before members of the target audience for their reaction (p.32).  Gazquez-Abad and Sanchez-Perez (2009) recognise the difficulties in attempting to ascertain how effective flyers are.  ‘If the message has been developed with the target audiences’ specific characteristics in mind then it will use a frame of reference which they can relate to and will be understood and interpreted as intended’ (Masterman and Wood, 2005, p.  69).  Therefore it is perfectly natural for flyers aimed at one specific target market e.g.  teenagers, to be perfectly understandable to them, but not to another market, e.g.  their parents.  This also highlights the phenomenon of ‘culture gaps’, which are ‘a difference in values, behaviour, or customs between two cultures or groups of people, esp.  as a hindrance to mutual understanding and communication’ (OED, 2010).  It is therefore essential that when testing flyers designs, to do so with participants who are also a part of the target audience (Peterson and Vactor, 2002).


Flyers are distributed by hand, door-to-door, inserted into newspapers and magazines, and handed out in areas where there are high volumes of passers-by such as exhibitions and street corners (Yadin, 2002).  Masterman and Wood (2005) concur, stating that once ‘attention has been gained they are more willing to accept the flyer’ (p.203).  Frazier (2008) states that flyers can be effectively distributed within magazines and newspapers that have the same target market as the flyer, meaning that flyers will be read in a leisurely way, possibly being more successful through being of interest to the reader.  Advertising alone ‘is not an effective way to gain a prospective client’s trust’ (Hayden, 2006, p.169), so personal distribution of flyers into the hands of potential customers may be advantageous, in that it allows for the additional element of dialogue between promoter and target audience.  Dialogue may help to enforce the message of the flyer, as well as building trust.

Static flyers displayed in public places have the advantage of reaching a lot of people, if they are displayed in the right places (Lapow Toor, 1998).  Campion Devney (1991) additionally state that flyers placed in a variety of locations including museums, launderettes, gyms and supermarkets are useful for event promotion.  Debelak (2000) concurs, and states that flyers for events should also be used as part of the décor at events.  Flyers that are placed statically need to give people a reason to take the trouble to pick them up, special offers and discounts promoted on the flyer are one way of ensuring this (Hayden, 2006; Locicero, 2007).  This relates to the AIDA sales principle of attention, interest, desire and action (Carter, 2007).  Masterman and Wood (2005) concur, stating that once ‘attention has been gained they are more willing to accept the flyer’ (p.203), as well as the message it conveys.  Peterson and Vactor (2002) discuss how flyers should ‘funnel’ the attention of those who read them, this is very similar to the AIDA sales principle, and is known as a sales funnel.  Those consumers that are actively engaged in searching for discounts and special offers are more likely to be interested in reading flyers, and those who are not price-sensitive are least likely to be attracted by flyers (Gazquez-Abad and Sanchez-Perez, 2009).  Statically placed flyers have the disadvantage of not allowing for relational links to be established between promoter and potential customer.  ‘If the brand chooses to have only a purely commercial discourse, it denies itself the opportunity to form a more affective relational link’ (Lehu, 2007, p.224).  The power of such relational links, generated by positive word-of-mouth enforcement, along with promotion being portrayed as a genuine customer service offering can build trust amongst potential customers leading to an increased likelihood of sales being made (Semprini, 2005), and the flyer being a more successful promotional tool.

Kumar (2003) suggests the use of eflyers as an alternative to physical paper flyers – in other words an electronic document of the printer flyer, such as an Adobe portable document format (PDF), to be emailed to interested parties.

A contemporary issue with regards to flyer distribution (both statically placed flyers and flyers handed out in the street), is nuisance flyer distribution.  This is where flyer distribution may directly annoy those who are subjected to it, or where flyers may be contributing to litter.  If potential customers are annoyed by flyers, their annoyance may put them off what it is that the flyer is promoting (Feltenstein, 2005).  Flyer distributors causing large amounts of street litter, placing flyers under car windscreen wipers and attaching flyers to publicly used infrastructure such as bus shelters have lead to the introduction of legislation to combat this problem.  In the UK, this process is managed at ‘local’ level, often by councils.


Campion Devney, D.  (1991) Organizing special events and conferences: A practical guide for busy volunteers and staff.  Sarasota, Florida, Pineapple Press.

Carter, L.  (2007) Event planning.  Bloomington, Indianna, AuthorHouse.

Crandall, R.  (2002) Marketing your services for people who hate to sell.  New York, McGraw-Hill.

Debelak, D.  (2000) Streetwise marketing plan.  Avon, Massachusetts, Adams Media.

E-Printing.  (2010) Full colour flyer printing / poster printing services.  [Internet] Nottingham, E-Printing.  URL available from: Accessed 31st August, 2010.

Feltenstein, T.  (2005) 401 killer marketing tactics to increase sales, maximise profits, and stomp your competition.  New York, McGraw-Hill.

Frazier, S.G.  (2008) Marketing strategies for the home-based business.  Guilford, Connecticut, Globe Pequot Press.

Gagliardi, G.  (2006) Making money by speaking: The spokesperson strategy for marketing your expertise.  Seattle, Clearbridge Publishing.

Gazquez-Abad, J.C.  and Sanchez-Perez, M.  (2009) How store flyers affect consumer choice behaviour: National brands V store brands.  European Retail Research.  Vol.  23, Issue 1, pp.  1 – 20.

Hayden, C.J.  (2006) Get clients now: A 28 day marketing program for professionals, consultants and coaches.  New York, AMACOM.

Kumar, B.  Run against media violence: Entertainment violence against children.  Don’t buy.  Don’t support.  Lincoln, Nebraska, iUniverse.

Labcreation.  (2010) Labcreation full colour printing.  [Internet] Manchester, Labcreation.  URL available from: Accessed 31st August, 2010.

Lapow Toor, M.  (1998) Graphic design on the desktop: A guide for the non-designer.  2nd edition.  New York, John Wiley and Sons. 

Lehu, J.M.  (2007) Branded entertainment.  London, Kogan Page.

Levinson, J.C.  and Godin, S.  (1996) Guerrilla marketing for the home-based business.  Boston, Houghton Mifflin.

Lipe, J.B.  (2002) The marketing toolkit for growing businesses.  Minneapolis, Chammerson Press.

Locicero, J.  (2007) Streetwise meeting and event planning: From tradeshows to conventions, fundraisers to galas, everything you need for a successful business event.  Avon, Massachusetts, Adams Media.

Masterman, G.  and Wood, E.  (2005) Innovative marketing communications: Strategies for the event industry.  Oxford, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

Moss, S.  ed.  (2009) The entertainment industry: An introduction.  Wallingford, CAB International.

Oxford English Dictionary.  (2010) Oxford English Dictionary.  [Internet] Oxford, Oxford University.  URL available from: Accessed 5th August, 2010.

Peterson, S.L.  and Vactor, K.  (2002) Starting and running your own martial arts school.  Boston, Tuttle Publishing.

Rutherford Silvers, J.  (2003) Professional event coordination.  Hoboken, New Jersey, John Wiley and Sons.

Semprini, A.  (2005) La marque, une puissance fragile.  Paris, Vuibert.

Sloane, R.  (2007) 121 marketing ideas to grow your small business.  St.  Albans, Hertfordshire, Ecademy Press.

Wales Print.  (2010) Online colour print.  [Internet] Port Talbot, Wales Print.  URL available from: Accessed 31st August, 2010.

Whitbread, D.  (2001) The Design Manual.  Sydney, University of New South Wales.

Yadin, D.  (2002) The international dictionary of marketing: Over 1000 professional terms and techniques.  London, Kogan Page.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Nightclub Promotion and Competition

Promotion is the sum of ‘activities that communicate the product or service and its merits to target customers and persuade them to buy’ (Kotler, 1994, p.1007).  Hackley and Tiwaskul (2006) discuss the concept of entertainment marketing and promotion as being one that leads to experiential consumption.  Nightclub promotion may be carried out by venues themselves, or by specialist third-party organisations and individuals who are brought in to promote themed nights within the nightclub to potential consumers.  Themed nights are known as club nights, and the organisations and individuals that undertake the task of promoting them to potential consumers are known as promoters (Moss, S, 2009).  KBA (1994) stated that promoters were a very important entity in the nightclub scene, they often set trends and are responsible for generating ideas for events, usually involving some form of entertainment, and often at their own expense.  Moss (2009) identified that promoters were often used where competition between nightclubs was fierce.  So called ‘student-cities’ (those cities that experience a boost in population during ‘term-time’ from college and university students), are one such example where a large demographic of residents of nightclub age are often heavily promoted to by nightclub promoters keen to attract custom.

The nightclub industry is a saturated and highly competitive marketplace (Skinner, Moss, G and Parfitt , 2005), effective target market segmentation, is therefore very important (Dibb, Stern and Wensley, 2002).  Within student cities competition is the most fierce at the beginning of the academic year (in the UK this is usually September), and at the beginning of new terms after vacation periods such as Christmas and Easter.  During this time, promoters are highly active, with many forms of visible promotion in key locations around student cities, such as: outside universities; within halls of residence; and on footpath areas where there are a large number of students passing by.  Such promotion is designed to entice new customers, and to reinforce brand awareness amongst existing customers (Moss, S, 2009).

When promoting products, organisations and events to students, it is important to target new students when they first arrive (Fakharzadeh and Todd, 2010).  This gives the opportunity to develop brand awareness before students form relationships with rival entities.  Useful locations to target students with flyers include ‘dorm halls, dining halls…and next to vending machines’ (Campion Devney, 1991, p.59).  Hayden (2006) additionally suggests student resource centres such as libraries, and university literature racks.

Nightclubs often portray a fun and ‘sexy’ image, which has been capitalised upon by nightclub promoters in their promotional materials, this is demonstrated in the figure below.  This has also been capitalised upon by third party companies who have used nightclubs to showcase their products, some examples include Applebelly and Lycos, who went in to partnership to promote the online dating service Love@Lycos within nightclubs (Anon, 2001).  Sepe, Ling and Glantz (2002) concur, and in their research into tobacco promotions in nightclubs, they found that promoters used ‘very attractive’ dancing girls, and ‘provocative games’ designed to entice young potential smokers, (p.415).  In research by Moss, G, Parfitt and Skinner (2008) into gender and nightclub visitation ‘men identified the opposite sex as the critical factor in the decision to select a venue…in this research one male focus group respondent suggested that the number of women…was important ‘for single lads definitely’’ (p.69).  Shapiro (2006) identified that nightclubs were promiscuous venues where young people would often meet to form sexual unions.  Haralambos and Holborn (2004) identified that the demographic of young people who visit nightclubs as being at an experimental stage in their lives, where risk-taking and adventure form a central part of their behaviour.

Examples of nightclub promotional materials that use sexual imagery.  Source: Santana, (2010).

Nightclubs compete against their rivals on a number of levels, any of the products they have may form the basis of competition.  Refurbishment and reinvention of popular nightclubs is commonplace, this is to maintain interest amongst client groups whose tastes change over time (Haussman, 2008). Keeping repeat customers is especially challenging for nightclubs, particularly with their young adult target market (Nancarrow, Nancarrow and Page, 2002), although continual re-invention is not realistic for many venues, and therefore other means of competing including those related to pricing and promotion are the norm (Moss, G, Parfitt and Skinner, 2008).  However, it has also been found that regular nightclub patrons who are highly involved with a particular club, brand or organisation are less likely to be swayed into visiting competitor venues on the basis of price or drinks promotions (Beatty and Kahle, 1988).  Nightclubs are a service industry, and there is a great deal of service industry marketing literature on the importance of service quality (Skinner, Moss, G and Parfitt , 2005).

The methods by which promoters communicate with potential customers varies from traditional paper based media such as posters and flyers, to electronic media such as social networking websites and email (Moss, S, 2009).  In 2006, London nightclub owner Mint Group shifted its promotional focus from traditional flyers to email marketing, and in doing so appointed a specialist e-marketing company to be responsible for sending out 60,000 emails per week to the Mint group’s customer database (Anon, 2006).  ‘Brand management and communication are evolving at lightning speed’ (Lehu, 2007, p.3), this is exemplified by the relatively recent uptake of online social media (particularly Facebook) by club promoters to build brands based around their club nights and to use social media as a cost-effective and relatively easy way to reach a potential audience with a promotional message.  Those aged 35 and under are the primary target segment of social media marketers (Tiltman, 2009), many of this demographic are also the primary target segment of club promoters, making online social media an ideal promotional medium.  The adoption of such technological marketing mediums gives a modern image, and can lead to increased sales (Anon, 1996).  ‘Kids are interested in the same things they’ve always been interested in, they’re just expressing it via different channels.  Chances are that if you don’t understand today’s consumer, you didn’t really understand yesterday’s’ (Tiltman, 2009).

It is clear that in a highly competitive marketplace a strong promotional strategy is essential for the survival of both nightclubs and club nights, in what has become a buyers-market, where consumers are presented with many choices, by which to spend their leisure pound.  Not only do nightclubs need to compete as physical venues against other venues, promoters need to compete against other promoters in promoting their particular club nights.  Promotional materials are often the primary means by which potential customers may learn of club nights, so therefore adopting a strategy that targets the correct people, using appropriate promotional media is an essential aspect in the business of nightclub and club night promotion.


Anon.  (1996) Tech marketing increases sales for two companies.  Marketing News.  14th March, 1996, p.2.

Anon.  (2001) Marketing latest.  Marketing.  5th March, 2001, p.10.

Anon.  (2006) Mint group to ditch flyers for email strategy.  Precision Marketing.  27th January, 2006, p.3.

Campion Devney, D.  (1991) Organizing special events and conferences: A practical guide for busy volunteers and staff.  Sarasota, Florida, Pineapple Press.

Dibb, S., Stern, P.  and Wensley, R.  (2002) Marketing knowledge and the value of segmentation.  Marketing Intelligence and Planning.  Volume 20, Issue 2, pp.  113 – 119.

Fakharzadeh, C.  and Todd, M.  (2010) Student organization leadership.  Infinity Publications.

Hackley, C.  and Tiwaskul, R.  (2006) Entertainment marketing and experiential consumption.  Journal of Marketing Communications.  Volume 12, Issue 1, pp.  63 – 75.

Haralambos, M.  and Holborn, M.  (2004) Sociology themes and perspectives.  6th ed.  London, Collins.

Haussman, G.  (2008) New Vegas nightlife: The hottest of the hot spots.  TravelAgent.  27th October, 2008, pp.50 -  52.

Hayden, C.J.  (2006) Get clients now: A 28 day marketing program for professionals, consultants and coaches.  New York, AMACOM.

KBA.  Trend influence marketing program.  April 14, 1994.  cited in Sepe, E., Ling, P.  and Glantz, S.  (2002) Smooth moves: Bar and nightclub tobacco promotions that target young adults.  American Journal of Public Health.  March 2002, Vol.  92, No.3, pp.  414 – 419.

Kotler, P.  (1994) Marketing management: Analysis, planning, implementation and control.  8th Edition.  Prentice Hall, New Jersey.

Lehu, J.M.  (2007) Branded entertainment.  London, Kogan Page.

Moss, G., Parfitt, S.  and Skinner, H.  (2008) Men and women: Do they value the same things in mainstream nightclubs and bars? Tourism and Hospitality Research.  Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.  61 – 79.

Moss, S.  ed.  (2009) The entertainment industry: An introduction.  Wallingford, CAB International.

Nancarrow, C., Nancarrow, J.  and Page, J.  (2002) An analysis of the concept of cool and its marketing implications.  Journal of Consumer Behaviour.  Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.  311 – 322.

Santana, D.  (2010) DJ Emir design services.  [Internet] Englewood, Colorado, DJ Emir.  URL available from: Accessed 20th August, 2010.

Sepe, E., Ling, P.  and Glantz, S.  (2002) Smooth moves: Bar and nightclub tobacco promotions that target young adults.  American Journal of Public Health.  March 2002, Vol.  92, No.3, pp.  414 – 419.

Shapiro, P.  (2005) Turn the beat around: The secret history of disco.  New York, Faber and Faber.

Skinner, H., Moss, G.  and Parfitt, S.  (2005) Nightclubs and bars: What do customers really want?.  International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.  Vol.  17, Issue 2, pp.  114 – 124.

Tiltman, D.  (2009) Why there’s more to digital than skinny jeans and trips to nightclubs.  Media.  19th November, 2009, p.7.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Nightclub Products

According to Kotler et al (1999) a product is ‘anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use or consumption that might satisfy a want or need.  It includes objects, services, persons, places, organizations and ideas’ (p.11).  Kotler’s definition and theories of product are widely accepted and referred to in a variety of texts including Lancaster and Reynolds (2004); Morgan and Pritchard (2001) and Swarbrooke (1995) who also applies theories from Kotler (1994) to his own research.  In his work Swarbrooke (1995) applies Kotler’s theories, which were principally aimed at manufacturing industries to visitor attractions and service industries with regards to ‘levels of product’, identifying three distinct product levels, these are:
· core products – the main benefits that a consumer derives from purchasing a product, i.e.  what they truly seek from the product;
· tangible products – this is what the consumer is actually buying into, and from this will gain the core product, and;
· augmented products – these are ancillary goods and services that the consumer is also buying into, which influence their decision as to whether to buy into a product, but they are typically not perceived to be the ‘main’ product by the consumer.
(Swarbrooke, 1995, pp.  39-41).

Through application of the above theory about product levels to nightclubs, the following figure has been created to demonstrate what nightclub consumers are actually buying into, in terms of product levels.

Levels of product for a nightclub.  Source: Author, based upon Swarbrooke (1995, figure 3.2, p.40).

From the above figure, it is clearly demonstrated that the core product, which clubbers are buying into, is the atmosphere within the venues that they are visiting, and the emotions that they will experience during their visit.  The atmosphere within a nightclub directly affects the emotions that clubbers experience during their visit, and for the vast majority of clubbers the emotions that they seek are typically ‘light-hearted’ and positive, including enjoyment, happiness, excitement, lust and love (Moss, S, 2009).

Club nights are typically given a theme, which will include the type of music on offer, who the DJs playing the music are, internal club décor, external promotional branding (including flyers) and other entertainment including dancers and performers from artists such as singers and fire-breathers.  Themes are designed to appeal to a particular market segment and contribute to the tangible and augmented products on offer as perceived by consumers.  Besides the theme of a given club night, other tangible products such as the physical club infrastructure will also play a part in the decision making process of consumers in their choice of venue.  This may include the dimensions and layout of a club or a part of a club, such as the dancefloor and bars, other augmented products such as toilets and cloak room facilities may also play a part in the decision making process. 

Skinner, Moss, G and Parfitt (2005) carried out a study in which they examined customer attitudes to a variety of aspects of nightclub service offerings, in this study they carried out focus groups and a questionnaire, their findings indicated that nightclub visitors were looking for originality, unique features, and value within the product offering.  In this research, 49% of male students stated that alcohol pricing was important to encourage repeat visitation to nightclubs, and 52% of female students stated that music and entertainment was an important factor when deciding upon a choice of venue.


Kotler, P.  (1994) Marketing management: Analysis, planning, implementation and control.  8th  Prentice Hall, New Jersey. Edition.

Kotler, P., Armstrong, G., Saunders, J.  and Wong, V.  (1999) Principles of marketing.  2nd European Edition.  London, Prentice Hall.

Lancaster, G.  and Reynolds, P.  (2004) Marketing.  Basingstoke, Palgrave-Macmillan.

Morgan, N.  and Pritchard, A. (2001) Advertising in tourism and leisure.  Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann.

Moss, S.  ed.  (2009) The entertainment industry: An introduction.  Wallingford, CAB International.

Skinner, H., Moss, G.  and Parfitt, S.  (2005) Nightclubs and bars: What do customers really want?.  International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.  Vol.  17, Issue 2, pp.  114 – 124.

Swarbrooke, J.  (1995) The development and management of visitor attractions.  Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

A Brief History of Nightclubs

Venues that would now be classified as nightclubs first began to appear in the early 20th Century, in both Europe and the USA.  These venues sold alcohol (sometimes illegally) and promoted entertainment in the form of: live music and song (jazz and swing was popular in the 1920s and 1930s); dancing girls often performing burlesque routines; and various other small stage performers including magicians, freak shows and comedy, which often came under the term ‘vaudeville’ (Trav, 2005) and today would be considered ‘variety’ sketches (Walmsley, 2009).

Throughout the 20th Century nightclubs grew in number and variety, with a rapid growth from the 1950s (post second world war austerity) as emergent youth cultures flourished along with their desire to consume and showcase products including fashion and music associated with their image and lifestyle (Laughey, 2006).  The 1960s saw many young people gathering in venues to listen and dance to rock and roll music, both from live bands and played by disc jockeys, these venues became known as discotheques (Wald, 2009).  The 1970s heralded a new era of rapid growth for nightclubs as discotheques and new rhythmic music forms for dancing to, developed a new emergent popular culture – that of disco.  The term discotheque was abbreviated to disco, disc jockeys became known as DJs and musically disco moved away from it’s original rock and roll influences and bread new dance crazes, fashions and trends including bright colours, garish sequined outfits and even roller skating.  Discos began to theme their venues around their fashionability, and included light effects such as strobes and moving / flashing coloured lights, and later dry ice for smoke effects (Broughton and Brewster, 2006).  New technologies allowed DJs to play records to audiences without interruption to the music flow through the use of mixers, disco music that was made for dancing was a popular new genre, and the integration of electronica and ‘black’ music influences such as funk, soul and reggae lead to new hybrid music forms emerging, the most successful arising in the late 1970s – hip hop (Broughton and Brewster, 2006; Shapiro, 2005). Hip hop became popular in discos due to it’s association with the very flamboyant breakdancing, allowing the audience and customers to become a recognised part of the entertainment offering. 

Throughout the 1980s dozens of new musical genres and sub-genres emerged, as identified by Moss (2009), these included garage, goth, house, indie, raga and techno (p.40). For each of these genres, hordes of fans actively sought out specialist musical nights.  From hip hop and electro various offshoots of new music emerged, but in terms of nightclub culture the most renowned of these came from Chicago in the mid 1980s – house music.  This was purely electronic, highly rhythmic, and uncomplicated music, often with minimal vocals that was made for dancing (Saunders, 2007).  It was first embraced by gay audiences amongst whom electro was already popular, but soon took a hold in discos in major urban centres in Europe and the USA (Norris, 2008). Discos began to re-image themselves as trendy dance venues.  The term disco was eventually dropped and venue promoters began to refer to their venues as nightclubs.  Laser light effects began to be used by venues to demonstrate their modern image and ability to create ambience and atmosphere within the venues.

Students were not considered a significant customer segment by nightclubs until the 1980s.  Up until this era students may have attended specialist music nights in relatively small numbers (in comparison to today), but (using the UK as an example) students would often mainly frequent their own university’s Student Union venues.  In the UK, the 1980s saw the emergence of ‘student nights’ at town centre nightclubs in student towns and cities.  These were typically held midweek on a weekly basis, and would include cheap drink offers to attract custom, and customers having to show some form of identification that proved they were students.  Student nights were generally used by nightclub owners to take-up unused club capacity during the mid-week lull when venues would have otherwise been closed, and therefore not making money (MINTEL, 2008a).

The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the rise of house music hybrids with faster heavier beats and bass, the most popular of which became known as techno.  The popularity of techno amongst club patrons, lead to the rise of the rave scene, and from this many new musical sub-genres that fused techno with other musical forms emerged.  Nightclubs offered an increasing range of specialist music nights, often attracting dedicated followers from afar.  Around this era, the term nightclub was abbreviated to club, by those venues and club promoters who saw themselves as being generally more stylish than ‘mainstream’ high street venues.  The term club was then often associated with nightclubs that offered specialist dance music, and their patrons became known as ‘clubbers’ (Chatterton and Hollands, 2003).

New musical forms prove most popular amongst young people (Laughey, 2006), students began to be recognised as a growth customer segment during the 1990s (MINTEL, 2008b).  In many UK student cities, clubs were being increasingly frequented by students at weekends and on nights not specifically aimed at students, as students began to satisfy a demand to consume new dance music forms.  A greater integration of students and ‘locals’ began to take place in the nightclub environment.  This was further exacerbated during the late 1990s, when changes were made to student funding in the UK by governments, meaning that student grants were replaced by student loans.  This lead to an increasing number of university students living at home, and studying at their local university, rather than traveling to other towns and cities (MINTEL, 2008b), with a knock-on effect being an even greater integration of students and locals within the nightclub environment.

The 1990s heralded an era of growth for club brands associated with specialist dance music genres.  A number of ‘mega-brands’ emerged from what were somewhat humble beginnings, such as Ministry of Sound, Gatecrasher and Cream (Broughton and Brewster, 2006; MINTEL, 2008a; Norris, 2008).  These brands spawned branches throughout the UK and even globally.  In towns and cities around the UK, many local entrepreneurs emerged, keen to take on these clubbing giants with their own imitation nights in club venues.  This was particularly apparent in student cities, where a newly recognised market of young people who were keen to visit nightclubs during the midweek period, were beginning to abandon their traditional Student Unions for something more trendy (MINTEL, 2008b).  By the turn of the Millennium the traditional ‘student nights’ at nightclubs had all but disappeared, and many nightclubs began to open almost every night, promoting different musically themed nights on various nights of the week, to audiences who were mostly (but not entirely) made up of students.  A typical venue may have offered several different musically themed nights with mainstream chart and pop, house and techno, rock and heavy metal, and indie / alternative music on different nights of the week.  Some venues became renowned for being specialists in particular music genres only (Moss, S, 2009).

In the 2000s, new music forms such as basslines, dub-step, RnB and electro (a new version of the music using an old name) have gained mass appeal amongst young audiences.  In student cities, entrepreneurs who are keen to cash in on this are in competition with like minded individuals, to promote and fill nights at venues across the city (Moss, S, 2009).  This promotion takes many forms, and will be further discussed later in this study. 

‘Having peaked with an estimated value of more than £1.6bn in 2003, the UK nightclub industry hasn’t reached the same heights in recent years’ (Anon, 2008, p.14).  This is primarily due to changes in the licensing act, which allowed pubs and bars to stay open later into the night.  Owens (2006) states that the change to the Licensing Act (2003) (which came into force in November 2005) that allowed pubs and bars to stay open later than 11:00pm, and for nightclubs to potentially go on until the following day, has changed the habits of clubbers with 25% not leaving home before 11:00pm, (prior to the Licensing Act (2003) coming into force only 4% of clubbers came out after 10:00pm).  Just over 40% of clubbers now leave home between 9:00pm and 10:00pm.  This has seen the number of regular nightclub visitors decline, although students remain an important demographic (Moss, G, Parfitt and Skinner, 2008).  May and Chaplin (2007) noted that nightclubs were popular amongst undergraduate students and those of student age, who would stay out later than older adults who instead preferred bars.  Due to increasing competition from nightclubs and other leisure-time service providers, nightclub venues often have an increasingly short life cycle, with a life expectancy of less than five years (Haussman, 2008).  Nightclubs face a continual need to evolve, the average age in the UK is 40, by 2025, more than a third of Britons will be over 55, nightclubs will need to adapt to this or face an uncertain future (Anon, 2008).

There is no official industry sanctioned typology of nightclubs.  Owens (2006) generally categorises nightclubs by their capacity, including Superclubs with capacities of 1,500 and above, Mid market clubs with capacities from 600 to 1,500, small clubs with capacities of less than 600, and chameleon clubs which may also operate as bars and pubs.  Moss (2009) takes an alternative approach instead classifying nightclubs by their physical environment, theming and product offering, these include: gay clubs (with a largely gay customer base and gay iconographic theming); live music venues (where bands and artists rather than DJs are the main providers of music); mainstream clubs (commercial ‘high street’ venues); niche music clubs (that specialise in particular music genres); strip clubs (adult entertainment venues); superclubs (extremely large venues with many different themed rooms and DJs); supperclubs (that provide food as part of the core product offering); ultra lounges (dark venues with a relaxed ambience, neon lighting and music played at lesser volumes); and warehouse / rave venues (venues that are used periodically for very large scale club events) (pp.67-68).


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Broughton, F.  and Brewster, B.  (2006) Last night a DJ saved my life: 100 years of the disc jockey.  London, Headline.

Chatterton, P.  and Hollands, R.  (2003) Urban nightscapes.  London, Routledge.
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Laughey, D.  (2006) Music and youth culture.  Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.

May, R.  and Chaplin, K.  (2007) Cracking the code: Race, class and access to nightclubs in urban America.  Qual Sociol.  Number 31, pp.  57 – 72.
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MINTEL.  (2008b) Student lifestyles – UK.  London, MINTEL International Group.
Moss, G., Parfitt, S.  and Skinner, H.  (2008) Men and women: Do they value the same things in mainstream nightclubs and bars? Tourism and Hospitality Research.  Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.  61 – 79.
Moss, S.  ed.  (2009) The entertainment industry: An introduction.  Wallingford, CAB International.

Norris, R.  (2008) Paul Oakenfold: The authorised biography.  London, Corgi Books.

Owens, S.  (2006) Pubs, clubs and restaurants: The impact of the new Licensing Act together with a difficult trading environment and other new legislation on capital and rental values of UK nightclubs.  Journal of Retail and Leisure Property.  Vol.  5, No.  4, pp.  341 – 353.

Saunders, J.  (2007) House music: The real story.  Milton Keynes, PublishAmerica.
Shapiro, P.  (2005) Turn the beat around: The secret history of disco.  New York, Faber and Faber.
Trav.  D.S.  (2005) No applause – just throw money: The book that made vaudeville famous.  London, Faber and Faber.

Wald, E.  (2009) How the Beatles destroyed rock ‘n’ roll: an alternative history of American popular music.  Oxford, Oxford University Press.
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