Thursday, April 14, 2011

Clubbers in Leeds and Flyers

The information contained within this blog post is edited highlights from the conclusion to the Leeds Clubber Survey 2010, which focussed heavily on the attitudes that clubbers in Leeds have to flyers and flyering activities.

Clubbers in Leeds are venue-loyal repeat visitors to the same club nights on a regular basis.  The single largest influence upon them in choosing a venue is word of mouth from their friends and associates with whom they go clubbing.  Clubbing is a social activity and this means that the most successful promotional methods, which might influence visitation to club nights are those that are also social by nature.  Word of mouth and social media are therefore highly influential in the minds of clubbers.  The involvement of friends and peers in the decision making process with regards to club night visitation is vital.  Flyers alone are not social, particularly statically placed flyers and flyers posted through letter boxes, and whilst out of all promotional media they are the most successful, they are considerably less successful than word of mouth and social media are in terms of influencing clubbers.  

Clubbers in Leeds have a love / hate relationship with flyers, while 42% of clubbers overall and 49% of student clubbers are influenced by flyers ‘regularly’ or ‘all of the time’, they consider flyers a waste of paper and damaging to the environment.  The most important aspect about flyers to clubbers in Leeds (and particularly student clubbers) is that they contain a monetary benefit to them, which is more likely to encourage clubbers to pick up a flyer than any aspect of its design or written information contained upon it.  Price-conscious students are almost twice as likely to pick up and take statically placed flyers than non-students from both nightclubs and pubs / bars, while they are on the hunt for a bargain.

Clubbers that have a particular interest in specific ‘niche’ genres of music, are more likely to be interested in the written content of flyers, than those who are interested in more mainstream chart and commercial music.

On street distribution of flyers is an emotive issue for many clubbers, which on the questionnaire attracted a wide range of qualitative comments.  The majority of clubbers do take flyers from people in the street (81%), but the importance of the appearance of the person giving out the flyer is greater than the flyers content.  This enforces the point raised above about the importance of social involvement in the promotional process.  Flyers being placed statically for customers to take themselves, and being dropped through letterboxes do not allow for an affective relational link to be made.  This is a key advantage that flyering in public places by flyer distributors directly into the hands of potential customers can have, however the manner by which this is undertaken is key.

Clubbers are more likely to take flyers from distributors who are friendly and who they find physically attractive - in essence, sex does sell, and this is possibly one reason why sexual imagery is often featured on club night promotional materials.  In terms of flyer content, special offers are the most important feature on a flyer to clubbers and in particular students.  Clubbers are also more inclined to take flyers if they are distributed in the correct locations.  Outside of, and near to clubs at the beginning and end of a night is a favoured location by clubbers for accepting flyers, providing the club night being promoted on the flyer is correctly targeted e.g.  that dubstep nights are promoted outside of dubstep nights at other clubs, so that leaving clubbers can take with them the information to digest.  This suggests that clubbers are more susceptible to on-street flyer distribution while they are in the process of clubbing than when they are not, and when they can see a connection between themselves and what it is that the flyer is promoting.

Other positive reasons why clubbers may choose to take flyers from distributors include: a friendly appearance of the distributor; a shared musical interest with the distributor; and the distributor appearing representative of the club night, i.e.  being into the ‘scene’.  This is especially important to clubbers who have a specific ‘niche’ musical interest such as basslines, dubstep, hip hop or heavy metal.  This again points towards a social and relational link assisting the promotion of club nights, where there is a common bond between clubber and distributor.  The quality of the flyer transaction is being lost as promoters grow financially, particularly when competition rather than community is a driving force behind putting on club nights.  Certainly for comparatively smaller community minded ‘niche’ music club night promoters, quality is more important than quantity.

There are many negative reasons why people take flyers from distributors, these include: the already mentioned pity for the distributor; forceful distribution; clubbers going through the motions of taking flyers; out of politeness; out of guilt; and feeling under pressure.  It is the role of distributors to give out a set number of flyers, often in the least amount of time possible.  Individual street distributors often do not have a financial stakeholder interest in the success of the flyers that they distribute, so instead of selling the club night, they are selling the flyer.  This is potentially very wasteful for club night promoters where sums of money have been invested in flyers and flyering activities as a promotional medium.  Flyers taken by clubbers in this way are only kept by the majority of clubbers for ‘seconds’ or ‘minutes’ before disposal, this compares with ‘days’ (in the case of student clubbers) for statically placed flyers that have been voluntarily picked up by clubbers. 

Many clubbers find on-street flyering activities an ‘annoyance’.  The general ‘hassle’ of constantly being approached by distributors to take something that they were not interested in was a nuisance to many clubbers.  On-street flyering was considered invasive by clubbers and ‘overkill’ was a theme, whereby there were simply too many distributors concentrated in particular areas.  The beginning of the academic year was identified by more than one promoter as a time when flyering activities are at their peak, this is to raise awareness of their club nights amongst new students and to enforce awareness upon returning students.  The sheer scale of such promotion (one Leeds promoter alone gives out 100,000 flyers in the first two weeks of term) may also be enforcing a negative image of these brands upon clubbers who do not want to be bothered by flyer distributors.  These comments are echoed by the environmental concerns that clubbers have over ‘waste’ in terms of paper being wasted on flyers and litter being created by flyers.  Despite the majority of clubbers taking flyers from on-street distributors, the ‘perception’ that clubbers have of on-street flyering activities is not positive, and is certainly mixed.  Flyers are augmented nightclub products, and are therefore representative of the club night that they promote, negative perceptions of flyering may also apply to the club nights which flyers promote.

There was universal condemnation of club night flyers being distributed through letterboxes in the home and this included halls of residence.  This method of distribution was considered untargeted, an intrusion, wasteful and a health and safety risk.  The majority of clubbers indicated that they disposed of flyers distributed in this way within seconds.

Despite everything negative that has been stated about flyers, there is evidence to suggest that they still play a roll in club night promotion.  Younger people are less likely to search for information about club nights than older people, particularly students.  If this information is ‘pushed’ upon them it could help in their decision making process, albeit if they are in the correct target market and responsive to this form of promotion.

If flyer efficiency is expressed in terms of the amount of money spent on flyering activities being divided by the amount of money being generated by door income and ticket sales, the likelihood is that there is a greater efficiency where there is a genuine interest in the recipient of the flyer in the music of the club night than where there isn’t.  Promoters of ‘niche’ genre specific music nights who employ genuine fans of the music to distribute their flyers to the correct target market in the correct locations are likely to have a greater flyer efficiency than promoters of more musically mainstream club nights targeted towards a wider audience.  When this wide audience includes a significant proportion of students, a greater flyer efficiency is likely to be achieved when flyers include special offers as a part of their content.

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