Don’t Design For Everyone: A Lesson from Cirque de Soleil

Jared Spool

November 14th, 2012

Before Cirque de Soleil, if you thought about a circus, you thought about elephants and lions and poodles that jumped through hoops of fire. The animals were there to make the kids happy.

Cirque decided to do something different: no animals. Because they chose no animals, their costs dropped tremendously. It turns out that moving, feeding, and caring for elephants and lions and poodles is expensive. Removing the animals makes running a circus significantly cheaper.

At the same time, they focused on the artistic side of their act. Spent the money on better music, fancier costumes, and the worlds best artists.

A circus that has no animals and isn’t for kids. That’s suicide in the circus world, everyone said.

Yet, they could now make it more interesting for the adults. More artistic, more sophisticated. Suddenly, they had a show they could charge more money for. Since kids aren’t likely to come, it’s now entertainment for adults at adult price tags of $150 or $200 a ticket.

Charge more money but spend less. This sounds like one of those crazy business formulas for success!

Guess what? Cirque du Soleil now brings in more in ticket sales every day than all of Broadway. How crazy is that?

Lesson: Maybe building something for everyone isn’t the right strategy. Maybe you need to focus on slimming down to a formula that lets you charge more and spend less.

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