Segmenting Local Markets For Entertainment Services: the Case of Discotheques

Daniel A. Emenheiser, Oklahoma State University
George B. Sproles, University of Houston
ABSTRACT - There are many and varied entertainment services available today. Retailers of entertainment face problems and challenges concerning local market segmentation, focusing on recognizing and then satisfying the needs of their particular consumers. This paper presents an analysis of these problems and illustrates a method of segmenting local markets for such entertainment services, focusing on the segments patronizing two competitive discotheques in Indianapolis, Indiana. An effective profile of the "heavy user" market segments of these two discotheques is developed as a result of the research findings. There are some significant similarities between these segments, but there are also some very important differences between "heavy users" of the two discotheques, which lead to market segmentation implications.
[ to cite ]:
Daniel A. Emenheiser and George B. Sproles (1978) ,"Segmenting Local Markets For Entertainment Services: the Case of Discotheques", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 05, eds. Kent Hunt, Ann Abor, MI : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 682-687.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 5, 1978      Pages 682-687


Daniel A. Emenheiser, Oklahoma State University

George B. Sproles, University of Houston


There are many and varied entertainment services available today. Retailers of entertainment face problems and challenges concerning local market segmentation, focusing on recognizing and then satisfying the needs of their particular consumers. This paper presents an analysis of these problems and illustrates a method of segmenting local markets for such entertainment services, focusing on the segments patronizing two competitive discotheques in Indianapolis, Indiana. An effective profile of the "heavy user" market segments of these two discotheques is developed as a result of the research findings. There are some significant similarities between these segments, but there are also some very important differences between "heavy users" of the two discotheques, which lead to market segmentation implications.


One aspect of retailing which receives little attention is the marketing of entertainment services. Nevertheless, the providers and promoters of entertainment services such as night clubs, discotheques, resorts, theme parks, health spas, tennis clubs and so on are very much in the business of retailing. They also face the retailer's classic problems of identifying local markets of consumers, analyzing Consumer preferences, responding to changing services of their competitors, and developing retailing strategy for their local markets and market segments.

This paper presents an analysis of the marketing problems faced by retailers in the entertainment business, focusing on the segmentation of local markets for entertainment. An approach to segmenting local markets for a specific type of entertainment is described, using a combination of established and new techniques for market segmentation research. The specific example used is discotheques, a relatively new form of entertainment which has recently grown to become an important part of the contemporary market for entertainment. The questionnaires utilized measured variables including discotheque attendance, discotheque preferences, general discotheque interests, factors important when choosing a favorite discotheque, activities, general interests, and the respondent's personal situation.

The purpose of this research was to construct a comprehensive profile of patronage characteristics of the customers who frequent two selected discotheques in the Indianapolis, Indiana area. Emphasis is placed on constructing a complete profile of the "heavy user" of the selected discotheques, including demographic, life-style, and patronage preferences. This type of information on the market segments patronizing a particular discotheque is fundamental to the formation of discotheque retailing strategy.


Within the past two years, the appeal of discotheques has been growing rapidly. This is evidenced by the extreme success of the numerous discotheques that have come into existence. There are an estimated 10,000 discotheques in the United States today, and last year discos claimed a $3.6 billion share of the entertainment market (O'Harro, 1976). Major leaders in the hospitality industry have been developing the discotheque concept and incorporating it into their establishments. For example, innovative disco marketing has been pioneered by Hilton Hotels, Ramada Inn, Interstate United (the Giraffe discotheque chain), Bobby McGee's, and Marriott. This growing industry also includes new chains and innumerable single proprietorships in large and small cities throughout the United States.

Zucaro (1976) has noted that the restaurant/discotheque has become a multi-function entertainment center which is capable of creating various atmospheres and handling many different types of events. Discos, like other forms of entertainment, must cater to their following, and a major consideration is the type of clientele sought. As described by Orth (1976) a contemporary disco is a place for people to relax and "let go," to be seen, and to watch; it is also an environment where technology allows an anonymity over insecurities and hang-ups. However, this perseverance goes far beyond the actual discotheque. It has created a popular emphasis on fashion, dancing, and many other areas of modern life. Discotheques have also profoundly influenced the tremendous popular-music industry by creating a dynamic disco sound (i.e., Motown's primary concentration right now is on "disco" music), a vast market for records and entertainers, and a new all-disco format for radio stations.

There are many reasons why these restaurant and hospitality operations are developing the disco concept. However, the primary reason is because of the high profit returns possible. Many lounges that previously relied on live entertainment are now being turned into profitable disco centers, thereby encouraging customers to remain in the units well after dinner hours. With the rising cost and uncertain availability of top name live entertainment, this appears to be a viable way to maintain continued business. Many discos operate adjoining restaurants, and some units are also experimenting with the new trend of offering a special limited late night breakfast menu when the disco closes.

Discos frequently offer a variety of attractions to their clientele. The "typical" disco features dancing to popular music, played from professional sound systems operated by a disc jockey. The disc jockey is usually situated near the dance floor. Often this person interacts with the patrons through remarks, requests, and various contests. Music selections are often mixed to appeal to all age groups. The total "product mix" of the disco will frequently include a combination of non-stop music, professional stereo sound system, a dance floor, pulsating lights, phenomenal decor, plants, liquor, food, and much more. Backgammon tables, huge TV screens, slide shows, pinball and other amusement machines may also dot the disco "dancescape."

Because of their emphasis on phenomenal decor and design by many discotheque operations, a considerable number of prominent interior designers and architects have become involved in this industry. Many discotheques throughout the country have received national and professional recognition for their design and decor. This combination facilitates and helps to promote the image of the discos, which is thought to be of tremendous importance in drawing a clientele. For instance, Funky's Discotheque of Evansville, Indiana, was once the Holtz Steamboat Foundry built back in the 1860's. The decor of Funky's today exhibits the skilled craftsmanship of the 19th century. Every article from the stained and cut glass to the ornate wood workings are original antiques. Funky's is in constant search of antiques of this sort, and they also offer some of their antiques for sale to their customers as their menu indicates. Another example is the Library, a tri-level discotheque in Atlanta, Georgia, which boasts a half-million dollar interior. The walls of the establishment are bookshelves lined with books, which customers are actually allowed to check out.

In addition to the emphasized phenomenal decor and dancing, a central and highly profitable attraction for many discos is their adjoining restaurant. Many of these operations are receiving recognition for their excellence in food quality and selection. Unique, interesting foods are being served as a part of the overall disco entertainment package. This gives the disco management further flexibility in developing the products and services to be offered to the various market segments. Given the growing significance of eating away from home, this dimension of the disco's "product mix" can in fact become a major key for long-term financial success of the disco concept.

After interviewing prominent discotheque owners and managers, Tucker (1975) concluded that the secret to success for these professionals is to find something unique, something which will promote the "image" of their clubs. This virtually dictates the disco's emphasis on costly interiors, specialized decor, multi-level operations, high-powered sound systems, and special lighting. Some club owners are going to great expense to find the magic formula to satisfactorily meet the demands of the dominating affluent, young-executive market segment, but at the same time to have a disco that will bridge all age groups. This is possible because the versatility of discotheques is unique resolves Jarigue (1975). There are many possibilities available to management in developing the product/service mix for the discotheque. By developing a unique product/service mix, customers may be satisfied. But first management must know who comprises their market segments, the characteristics of these people, and what they really want from the disco. When management acquires this information, then each disco can develop its own formula to approach the desired market segment(s). Profitability of today's discos results in part from the special promotion and merchandising offerings and campaigns of each successful discotheque.

Delineated in the broadest of terms, the principal clientele of discotheques comprise what is sometimes referred to as the "Hungry Generation." The "Hungry Generation'' represents the post-World War II bumper baby crop that is now growing into young adulthood, family life, and career employment. The largest part of this potential market appears to be young adults in their early to mid-twenties. However, a significant and perhaps growing segment is among established young adults ranging in age into the mid-thirties.

Nation's Restaurant News in an article titled "Feeding the Hungry Generation" (1971), has identified some specific attributes of the "Hungry Generation." These attributes include openness, involvement, spontaneity, and uninstitutionalism. Following through, today's "Hungry Generation' is demanding choice and participation. They are looser and brutally honest. Other key orientations include impatience with tradition and refusal to be regimented. These characteristics suggest the hospitality and entertainment industry can increase its success in handling this young market by being less rigid and tradition-bound, and more flexible and innovative, in designing its product/service mix.

Discotheque and restaurant management must satisfy the desires stemming from these characteristics. Examples of some successful approaches include the implementation of salad bars, sundae bars, dance contests and lessons, contemporary decor, etc. Established chains have also adopted new restaurant images directed to the younger generation. A recent example of this occurrence is Howard Johnson's new restaurant system known as Ground Round. One would never know that a Ground Round is a converted "orange-roofer," but it is so successful ($10,000 weekly sales are common) that the company is now building them from scratch. Although a Ground Round is principally a restaurant and bar, it has drawn upon the needs and desires of the "Hungry Generation" and has developed a product/service presentation which directly utilizes the characteristics of the discotheque concept. As Howard Johnson has done, many other established operations may continue their growth by finding fresh, new ways of expressing the new requirements that the young-thinking market segments are currently demanding.

Though discos have clearly achieved initial market acceptance among a rather young clientele, their market potential can be much broader. For example, Mr. Richard Chapman (1976), Assistant Director of Food and Beverage Planning and Development for Hilton International, remarks that, "The discotheque concept is a product, for which today's society in many locations has created a need. I feel that it is a product where the final mix must be finely attuned to the local market conditions. In general there is a trend away from the loud "rock" music to a more sophisticated and intimate level of operation. The former is more susceptible to the whims of fashion and appeals to the younger market, where spending powers are limited. The latter, perhaps requiring greater initial investment, appeals to the middle management mid-thirties age group." This suggests the importance of broadening the base of the disco's clientele whenever local market conditions permit.

Some notable attempts to broaden their markets have been made by various restaurant/discotheque operations. A principal emphasis is on diminishing the "youthful" image of discos, and making the modern disco a place where a variety of age/interest groups feel comfortable. Walton (1976), in a Nation's Restaurant News article titled "Hungry Generation Grows Up -- New Themes Aim at Wider Age Groups," points out several examples of this trend. For example, Bobby McGee's Conglomerate of discotheques considers customers aged 25 and up its basic target group and sees the concept's appeal as broad. Similarly, Steak and Ale views its market as "very broad," according to one company officer, and it has appealed to a 25-59 age group. Steak and Ale's Market Researcher, Albert J. Yesk, also identifies market segments within the population by values they hold rather than by age groups. Those expected to contribute to restaurant industry growth are "new values" people -- those whose interests and activities are not centered on home life. People, no matter what age, come to the discos to have fun, "to get away from it all" and to forget the hassles of everyday life. They do not come to get drunk, and they are mostly positive people as far as their entertainment and their social life go.

Disco operators who can fully understand the special identity and needs of the "Hungry Generation" will probably find themselves making extensive and more profitable uses of their capital investments. However, operators who can tap this "Hungry Generation" market will probably find it broader based than it first appears. Though the "Hungry Generation" may appear to be one homogeneously young "swinging" market, this is probably not the case. Rather, the disco market may contain many sub-segments, each having a relatively unique profile of personal characteristics and patronage preferences. In such a situation, disco marketing may be "tailor-made" to the special needs and wants of profitable sub-segments within this broad market.


Based on the preceding rationale, the basic objective of this research is to profile the characteristics of patrons of two major discotheques with restaurants in Indianapolis. The focus is on identifying the demographic, life-style, and patronage characteristics of "heavy users" of each discotheque. From these profiles it can be determined the extent to which the two clienteles of the discotheques are in fact different, and the extent to which the local market for discos can be segmented based on those differences. Finally, based on these findings managerial recommendations for planning a discotheque retailing strategy focused on the local market segments can be developed as an aid to managerial-decision making.


Data were collected through a questionnaire which utilized dependent variables including, "About how frequently do you go to discotheques in the Indianapolis area?"; "Which disco do you patronize most often?"; and "When spending an evening in a discotheque, how much is your typical check?" Both life-style and demographic variables were included in the questionnaire to obtain specific descriptive data of the population and to aid in the development of a life-style profile of the "heavy user" of the discotheques.

The questionnaires used in this study were developed for application to discotheques based on previously conducted research. Discotheque preferences were measured using techniques developed by Arnold and Tigert (1973), and more recently modified by Charles King (Purdue University), Lawrence Ring (University of Virginia) and Douglas Tigert (University of Toronto). Questions from their instruments, which were designed to measure various patronage/store image dimensions for food and clothing stores, were adapted for the case of discotheques. Other sections of the questionnaire were adapted from the fashion and retailing research program of George Sproles (University of Houston) (Sproles, 1977).

As a preliminary exploratory investigation, an in-depth pre-test was conducted at three disco-type operations in Indianapolis on Wednesday evening, June 23, 1976 and on Saturday evening, June 26, 1976. Twenty pre-test questionnaires were distributed at each discotheque on each evening. Thus a total of 120 questionnaires were distributed for the pre-test. The pre-test questionnaire was randomly distributed to both males and females, after 9:00 P.M. until closing at all three operations simultaneously. At each discotheque on each evening, 10 questionnaires were distributed to men and 10 questionnaires were distributed to women. When customers were approached with a questionnaire, they were briefly informed of the purpose of the study, and then were asked if they would complete the questionnaire at their convenience. If they declined, they were thanked and no more was said. The process of distribution was designed not to disturb the clientele of the operations, and was done with cooperation of the management. The questionnaires were distributed along with an explanatory cover letter and an addressed, self-stamped return envelope. Within thirty days the following response rates were obtained:

Discotheque A:     12/40 or 30%

Discotheque B:     12/40 or 30%

Discotheque C:     6/40 or 15%.

Overall, for the pre-test there was a 25% response rate, with a total of 10 male responses and 20 female responses.

Relevant information gained as a result of the pre-test was used to design a final questionnaire for the actual test. First, general response from the subjects and managers indicated that the length of the initial questionnaire kept a number of subjects from completing it. The original questionnaire was a four-page booklet, with questions on eight sides surveying the areas mentioned previously. Because of the length problem, the information contained on the first two pages of the questionnaire was shortened by the deletion of several of the discotheques. Several of those discos (other than the pre-test sites) went out of business between the pretest and final test. These deletions allowed increased white space on the questionnaire, and aided in forming a shorter survey. The third page of the questionnaire which was concerned with certain aspects of personal attitudes and identity, the one requiring the most time to complete, was also deleted. With these changes, the actual questionnaire used still surveyed the principal re--search issues but did not appear nearly as lengthy or complex.

The pre-test results also resulted in a decision to remove Discotheque C from the final study, for several reasons. As indicated previously the response rate from Discotheque C was very low. This appeared to result from the fact that many of this disco's patrons were not true customers of the disco. Rather, many were dinner patrons and the disco or lounge area was often just a gathering or waiting place prior to dining. Consequently many of this disco's patrons felt they were not qualified to complete the questionnaire, and therefore they did not do so. Another reason for deletion of Discotheque C from the study was that the management did not add a dance floor to their lounge as they had plan-, ned at the start of the study. Therefore, this disco operation was not a true discotheque in the sense of offering the complete mix of music, dancing, and beverage service.

The pre-test also indicated the response of males in answering and returning the questionnaire was less than satisfactory. It was also tentatively found that there appeared to be minimal significant difference between the responses given by males and those given by females. Therefore it was decided to survey only the female patrons. This approach appears to have face validity, for many disco owners as well as the researchers believe that women are the crucial sex to satisfy in a disco retailing strategy. Likewise, Michael O'Harro (1976), one of this nation's leading discotheque consultants, supports the important role of women in the marketing process for hospitality operations. He suggests that if the women are satisfied and truly enjoy a given disco operation, then the male clientele will also be there, simply because the women are at the discotheque and are having a good time there.

The two competitive discotheques selected for final study are extremely successful discotheque/restaurant combinations. They are located in one of the affluent, up-per-middle class suburban neighborhoods of Indianapolis. They are both located near popular shopping complexes, and are about a mile apart from each other. This close proximity makes them potential direct competitors for the same local market. For the actual test, 1,239 questionnaires were distributed to all cooperating female patrons who patronized either Discotheque A or Discotheque B during four survey nights. The nights were Wednesday-Saturday, July 21, 1976-July 24, 1976. Questionnaires were distributed by the same method used during the pre-test, from 9:00 P.M. until closing. Eight weeks were allowed for the return of the questionnaires.

The principal objective of this research was to identify the "heavy user" of the competitive discotheques. The dependent variable question "About how frequently do you go to discotheques in the Indianapolis area?", was used to identify "heavy users." Those who responded with "at least once every two weeks" were termed the "heavy users" of the discotheques. Additionally, another dependent variable question, "When spending an evening in a discotheque, how much is your typical check?", was used to identify "heavy spenders," a group of obvious interest to disco owners. The "heavy spender" was defined as that person who, when spending an evening in a discotheque, had a typical check of at least $4.00 per person. The third dependent variable focused on the question "Which disco do you patronize most often?"

The "heavy user" of each disco was profiled across four major variable sets: 1) disco preferences, 2) disco image dimensions, 3) life-style activities/attitudes, and 4) demographics. Each profile variable was cross-tabulated against the selected "heavy user" dependent variable, using the .05 level for the test of significance. The following discussion will focus on a verbal summary of principal significant findings. See Emenheiser (1977) for a complete presentation of the data tables.


A total of 1,239 questionnaires was distributed for the actual testing. A total of 754 questionnaires was distributed at Discotheque A and 485 questionnaires were distributed at Discotheque B. The greater number at Discotheque A resulted from the fact that the capacity of Discotheque A is greater than that of Discotheque B, and patronage was greater. After allowing eight weeks as a return period, 355 questionnaires were returned from the 1,239 which had been distributed, for an overall response of 29%. From the 754 questionnaires which had been distributed at Discotheque A, 192 were completed and returned, for a 25% response rate. From the 485 questionnaires which had been distributed at Discotheque B, 162 were completed and returned, for a 33% response rate.

A preliminary analysis indicated that 88.7% of the survey's 355 respondents have patronized Discotheque A, and 83.9% of the respondents have patronized Discotheque B. This provides assurance that the respondents are capable of effectively completing the questionnaire concerning these two competitive discotheques. It also implies (incorrectly as shown later) the market segments of the two discos actually view the two discos as competitive substitutes to one another.

Other initial findings were that the "heavy users" of the discotheques concentrate their patronage at one of the discotheques studied, as would be expected. However, the relation between the "heavy spender" and the variable denoting the disco patronized most often is more significant than is the relation between the "heavy spender" and the "heavy user" variables. This means that although the "heavy user" either patronizes Discotheque A or B most often, the "heavy user" is not always the one spending the most money at the disco. Thus it would appear that "heavy spenders" and "heavy users" of discotheques, as defined in this research, are not identical market segments.

The profile data on patronage preferences for "heavy users" of each disco yields some interesting findings. For each disco, "heavy users" said their chosen disco (A or B) was "best" across characteristics listed in Table 1. However, competition between the two discos was high, as further analysis indicated. While "heavy users" of Discotheque A naturally rated it highly across most patronage dimensions, Discotheque B received the second highest number of "best" mentions across most dimensions. Likewise, among those preferring Discotheque B, Discotheque A receives second highest number of mentions.



However there are some important differences in relation to other patronage dimensions. The patrons of Discotheque B believe Discotheque A is the disco with the highest prices, while they believe very strongly that Discotheque B has the most variety in food and/or beverage selection. The patrons of Discotheque A are evenly divided on this last factor. The patrons of both discotheques tend to agree that Discotheque A is the disco with the most exciting decor and most romantic atmosphere.

There are also a number of significant life-style/psychographic characteristics differentiating patrons of the two discos. Most interesting is the fact the "heavy users" of Discotheque A visit the disco for relaxation and enjoyment, while those at Discotheque B visit the disco to meet with friends and for entertainment. This goes along with the fact that the "heavy users" at Discotheque B frequently join in informal gatherings with friends. Those of Discotheque A do also but to a lesser extent. Other findings were that the "heavy users'' at Discotheque A participate more often in outdoor activities than do those at Discotheque B. The "heavy users" of Discotheque B were also found to report lower levels of attending religious services or doing gardening. Finally, many patrons of Discotheque A perceived that they did not carefully watch how they spent their money, while patrons of Discotheque B were evenly split on this issue.

There are also a wide range of similarities in lifestyle orientations and patronage preferences of the "heavy users." All tend to go swimming regularly in the summer, to eat lunch at restaurants, and to go shopping with friends. There is a consensus among "heavy users" that the hours of operation of the local discotheques in Indianapolis are satisfactory. They believe that discotheques should have late night (after midnight) sandwich or breakfast type menus, and that good tips should be given for good service. The "heavy users" agree that a visit from a disco artist at the discotheque would be exciting. However, they do not seem to prefer the disc jockey's music to that of a live band. Nor do they usually stop at another restaurant, after leaving the disco, for a nightcap. Particular emphasis is placed on the importance of the disco's atmosphere, cleanliness, and efficiency and friendliness of the service staff. Also very important to the "heavy user" is dance floor space and hours for reduced drink prices. Little importance is placed on the availability of pinball or other electronic games, backgammon tables, or slide presentations. Concerning other consumption-oriented interests of the "heavy user," the data indicate they do not perceive themselves to be opinion leaders in choices of fashions. However, the data indicate they keep their wardrobes up to date with current fashions by usually having one or more outfits of the very latest style. Finally, the "heavy users" appeared to not necessarily be heavy consumers of the albums or tapes of their favorite singers.

Demographic differences between "heavy users" of the two discos were not substantial. However, the age comparison does appear to be very important. Discotheque A had a greater proportion of patrons from the 25 to 34 age group than does Discotheque B, while Discotheque B tends to have more patrons from the 18 to 24 age group. This factor is a strong indication of the transitional differences between the "heavy user" market segments of the two operations. Otherwise, demographically the "heavy users" of the two discos are much the same. They tend to live in suburban Indianapolis in large apartment complexes. In general they are single and are employed.


On the basis of significant data collected several market segments of the two discotheques can be described, including "heavy users," "heavy spenders" and disco most frequently patronized. However, most important is the market segment composed of the "heavy users" because they are the ones who are for many operations most important to the success of that operation. Even though their typical check averages may not be quite as high as those of the "heavy spenders," they are important for many reasons. They represent repeat business, they represent a large market segment, and they are excellent "promoters" of a disco, i.e., they tell their friends about their favorite disco and often even meet them there. As a result they are definitely a very profitable market segment to the operations. Often this market segment can become so loyal to a given operation that many discos become known as having a certain segment of people usually there, i.e., "the regulars" (many discos now offer memberships to such groups).

A rather effective profile of the "heavy user" market segments of the two discos emphasized in this research has been developed. There are some significant similarities between these segments. It has been noted that those patronizing either Discotheque A or B most often perceive their chosen disco to be "best" in a similar set of products and services (see Table 1). Along other lines, because "heavy users" of both Discotheque A and B are all broadly a part of the "Hungry Generation," it should not be surprising to find many of their attitudes, interests, activities, needs, and desires to be very similar. Further, because the two operations are competitive in location and in products and services offered, most of the customers have patronized both discos occasionally, though they clearly prefer one over the other. In short, the principal market segments of both discos have a relatively clear set of preferences, and their identifying characteristics overlap to a substantial degree.

However, there are some very important differences between "heavy users" of the two discos, and these differences suggest a basis for segmenting the local market. Most important is the age difference between the two segments. There are also important differences in perceptions of prices and variety of food/beverage selections. Finally, the patrons of one disco appear to go to it for "relaxation," while patrons of the other attend to "meet friends." Clearly the preceding dimensions constitute a fundamental basis for segmenting any local market for entertainment.

The findings of this investigation make it rather apparent that both discos have generated a relatively loyal clientele, and have successfully offered a product and service mix satisfying their principal market segments. However, the findings also support some possible new retailing strategies that could be added as a part of their strategies to remain "unique." Both discotheques may want to assess the feasibility and profitability of offering lunch and late night (after midnight) sandwich or breakfast type menus (why not utilize those available kitchen facilities?). Results of the study indicated a demand for these services by disco patrons, and offering expanded meal service could broaden the retailing strategy of each operation. More promotional efforts could also be placed on encouraging evening patrons to come for dinner as well as dancing. It would also appear that "tie-in" promotions with other retailers (i.e., clothing stores) might offer unique opportunities for the discos which would be favorably received by their younger clientele. Many other "tie-ins" oriented toward the life-style aspects might similarly appeal to the young. Finally, it appears that both discos have their principal appeal to younger market segments, and both might therefore increase profitability and stability for the future by promoting their product/service mix to a broader range of the total adult market.

One final note regarding research methodology should now be made. The present study has adapted new retailing research techniques and some established market segmentation techniques to the special situation of segmenting local markets for entertainment. Relatively little of this type of research has previously been done by the entertainment and hospitality industry, but the need for such research in the modern competitive and fast changing services market is clear. The present methodology used in this study exemplifies one successful approach which has generated managerially-relevant information on disco strengths/limitations, the identity of principal market segments patronizing competitive discos, and new competitive ideas for disco retailing strategy. Such "marketing intelligence" is crucial in opening new markets for discos and to continually satisfy consumers' needs.


The contemporary discotheque has become one of the strongest, rapidly growing, and most profitable segments of the hospitality industry. The typical disco offers a combined entertainment product/service mix including food, beverages, music and disc jockey personalities. The potential market for disco entertainment is large, but centers on a younger clientele ranging from late teens to mid-thirties in age. The type of research summarized in this paper can be an aid to disco owners/managers in segmenting their local markets, identifying patronage characteristics of contrasting segments, and formulating "disco retailing strategies" focused on the needs and demands of their segments of the market.


Stephen J. Arnold and Douglas J. Tigert, "Market Monitoring Through Attitude Research," Journal of Retailing, (Winter, 1973), 3-22.

Richard Chapman, Assistant Director of Food and Beverage Planning and Development, Hilton International, The Waldorf-Astoria, New York, New York, (personal letter to Daniel A. Emenheiser), (March 16, 1976).

Daniel A. Emenheiser, "Discotheques -- Consumer Behavior, Patronage Characteristics," unpublished M.S. thesis, Purdue University, 1977.

"Feeding the Hungry Generation," Nation's Restaurant News, (October 11, 1971), 11-12.

Ralph Jarigue interviewed by David Tucker, "Disco Saturday Night," In City, (October, 1975), 24-29.

Michael O'Harro, "Disco Owners Say Flexibility is Key to Fad Profits," The Washington Star, (August 8, 1976), 1.

Maureen Orth, "The Disco Whirl," Newsweek, (November 8, 1976), 94-98.

George B. Sproles, "Clothing Orientations of Adult Women in Indiana," Agricultural Experiment Station, Purdue University, 1977.

Douglas J. Tigert, "The Fast Food Franchise: Psychographic and Demographic Analysis," Journal of Retailing, (Spring, 1971), 81-90.

David Tucker, "Disco Saturday Night," In City, (October, 1975), 24-29.

Stephen Walton, "Hungry Generation Grows Up -- New Themes Aim at Wider Age Groups," Nation's Restaurant News, (January 5, 1976), 18.

A1 Zucaro, "Disco-Restaurant or Restaurant-Disco?" Discothekin, (August, 1976), 26.