Homophily is a wonderful sounding word. And it holds a lot of wisdom for anyone developing or operating a location-based entertainment project (LBE), especially an indoor facility that offers more guest intimacy, such as a family entertainment center or bowling center.
Homophily means, “love of the same.” It is sometimes also known as, “birds of a feather flock together.” What it means is people have a natural tendency to associate and bond with people similar to themselves based on their status and/or values.
When it comes to an LBE, homophily also means that people don’t want to associate, to hang out with people too dissimilar from themselves. A simple example is that white-collar, college educated guests won’t want to visit the same LBE that attracts blue-collar rednecks. The lower socioeconomic/lifestyle (SEL) group will effectively drive away the higher one. Just the opposite will occur at a country club. The blue-collar rednecks won’t feel comfortable in the country club.
It isn’t only the people in an LBE that affects what makes SEL groups comfortable or uncomfortable in a particular facility. It is also the facility’s design and level of finish. A redneck bar is going to have a completely different design and finish than a country club.
So when it comes to the applying the concept of homophily to LBE design and management, it is critical to know whom you want to attract in terms of their SELs. You can’t be all things to all SELs. So you have to pick an SEL niche and design for them. In fact, when you design for upper socioeconomic/lifestyle groups, you have to make sure the low SELs wont’ feel comfortable coming. The design and finishes have to be sophisticated enough to make them feel out of place. Otherwise, they will come and drive away the birds of the other feather that you really want as your customers.