Cirque du Soleil Business Model: How To Reengineer Value To Scale

The Cirque du Soleil business model is both innovative and unique in how it has reimagined the circus to be a globally recognised entertainment experience.

Gary Fox

Cirque Du Soleil Business Model Canvas

Cirque du Soleil Business Model: How To Reengineer Value To Scale

The Cirque du Soleil business model is both innovative and unique in how it has reimagined the circus to be a globally recognised entertainment experience. Read on to find out what makes this a truly unique and interesting business model.

How Does The Cirque du Soleil Business Model Work

Cirque du Soleil is an entertainment company that creates, produces, and performs live shows featuring acrobatics, dance, music, and storytelling. The company operates by developing unique, high-quality productions that blend various art forms to create immersive experiences for audiences. Cirque du Soleil’s shows are performed in permanent theaters, touring big-top tents, and through partnerships with venues such as hotels and resorts. The company generates revenue primarily through ticket sales, merchandising, sponsorships, and licensing agreements.<h3>What is Cirque du Soleil’s Business?</h3>

Cirque du Soleil operates in the live entertainment industry, specifically in the niche market of contemporary circus performances. The company differentiates itself from traditional circuses by focusing on artistic innovation, storytelling, and human performance, while eliminating animal acts. Cirque du Soleil’s productions are known for their high-quality, avant-garde approach to live entertainment, which sets them apart from competitors in the industry.<h3>Key Features of Cirque du Soleil’s Business model</h3>

  • Unique blend of circus arts, theater, and live entertainment
  • Focus on artistic innovation and pushing creative boundaries
  • Emphasis on human performance and multidisciplinary talent
  • Partnerships with venues and sponsors to expand reach and revenue

A brief history of Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil was founded in 1984 by Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix, two former street performers from Quebec, Canada. The company began as a small troupe of performers and quickly gained recognition for its unique approach to circus arts. In 1987, Cirque du Soleil received a grant from the Quebec government, which allowed them to create their first major production, “Le Cirque Réinventé.”

Throughout the 1990s, Cirque du Soleil expanded rapidly, launching new productions and touring internationally. The company’s first permanent theater, Treasure Island, opened in Las Vegas in 1993. This marked the beginning of Cirque du Soleil’s partnership with hotels and resorts, which would become a key aspect of the Cirque du Soleil business model.

Key milestones and dates:

  • 1984: Cirque du Soleil is founded by Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix
  • 1987: The company creates its first major production, “Le Cirque Réinventé”
  • 1993: Cirque du Soleil opens its first permanent theater, Treasure Island, in Las Vegas
  • 1998: The company launches “O,” its first aquatic show, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas
  • 2005: Cirque du Soleil expands into Asia with the opening of “ZAIA” in Macau
  • 2015: The company celebrates its 30th anniversary with the launch of “TORUK – The First Flight,” inspired by James Cameron’s film “Avatar”
  • 2020: Cirque du Soleil files for bankruptcy protection due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 2021: The company emerges from bankruptcy under new ownership and resumes performances

Key Facts About Cirque du Soleil

. Company name:

Cirque du Soleil


Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix

Launch date:

June 16, 1984

Year founded:


Company CEO:

Stéphane Lefebvre


Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Number of employees

Approximately 4,900

Ticker symbol

privately held company

Annual revenue

$1.04 billion

Profit | Net Income

Not publicly disclosed

Market Cap


Useful Links

Facebook 2
Tik Tok
Social Media 2
Social 2

Who owns Cirque du Soleil

As of 2021, Cirque du Soleil is owned by a group of investors led by Catalyst Capital Group, a Canadian private equity firm. The ownership group also includes Soundpoint Capital, George Matteo, and Charles Champagne. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company was owned by a consortium led by TPG Capital, which acquired a majority stake in Cirque du Soleil in 2015. However, due to the financial impact of the pandemic, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020 and underwent a restructuring process that resulted in the current ownership structure.<h2>Mission statement</h2>

“Invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions of people around the world.” (Official Cirque du Soleil mission statement)

How Cirque du Soleil works

The Cirque du Soleil business model revolves around creating and performing unique, high-quality live entertainment experiences. The company’s creative process begins with the development of a concept or theme for a new show. A team of designers, directors, and artists then collaborate to bring the concept to life, incorporating elements of circus arts, theater, music, and storytelling.

Once a show is created, Cirque du Soleil markets and promotes it through various channels, including social media, advertising, and partnerships with travel agencies and tourism boards. The company then performs the show in either a permanent theater or a touring big-top tent, depending on the production and location.

The Cirque du Soleil business model also relies heavily on partnerships and collaborations. The company partners with hotels, resorts, and event spaces to host its shows, which provides additional revenue streams and exposure to new audiences. Cirque du Soleil also collaborates with sponsors and corporate clients to create custom performances and events, further diversifying its revenue sources.

In addition to its live performances, Cirque du Soleil generates revenue through merchandising, licensing, and other ancillary products. The company sells branded merchandise at its shows and through its online store, and it licenses its intellectual property for use in various products and media, such as video games and films.

The Revenue Model of Cirque du Soleil

The Cirque du Soleil business model generates several key revenue streams:

  • Ticket sales: The primary source of revenue for the company, generated through sales of individual tickets and group packages for its live performances
  • Merchandising: Sales of branded products, such as apparel, accessories, and souvenirs, at its shows and through its online store
  • Sponsorships: Partnerships with corporate sponsors who provide financial support in exchange for brand exposure and marketing opportunities
  • Licensing: Granting rights to use Cirque du Soleil’s intellectual property, such as its logos, characters, and show themes, in products and media
  • Special events: Hosting private performances and corporate events, which provide additional revenue and exposure for the company

Cirque du Soleil’s revenue model is profitable due to its ability to command high ticket prices for its unique, high-quality productions and its successful diversification of revenue streams through merchandising, sponsorships, and licensing. Additionally, the company’s partnerships with hotels, resorts, and event spaces help to reduce costs and provide stable, long-term revenue sources.

The Complete Cirque du Soleil Business Model

Cirque Du Soleil Business Model Canvas

The Cirque du Soleil Business Model

Customer Segments Of The Business Model Canvas

Customer Segments

Cirque du Soleil’s business model caters to a diverse range of customer segments. The company’s unique blend of circus arts, theater, and live entertainment attracts audiences from various demographics. Cirque du Soleil’s customer segments include:

  • Tourists: Visitors seeking unique experiences
  • Families: Groups enjoying wholesome entertainment together
  • Corporate clients: Businesses hosting special events
  • Affluent individuals: Patrons appreciating high-quality performances
  • Arts enthusiasts: Fans of innovative, avant-garde shows
  • Value Proposition Of The Business Model Canvas

    Value Propositions

    Cirque du Soleil’s business model is built upon delivering exceptional value to its customers. The company’s value proposition lies in its ability to create awe-inspiring, immersive experiences that transport audiences to another world. Cirque du Soleil’s main value propositions include:

  • Unique performances: Combining circus, theater, and live entertainment
  • Artistic innovation: Constantly pushing boundaries of creativity
  • World-class talent: Showcasing highly skilled, multidisciplinary performers
  • Immersive experiences: Transporting audiences to imaginative realms
  • High-quality production: Ensuring top-notch sound, lighting, and stagecraft
  • Channels


    Cirque du Soleil’s business model utilizes various channels to reach and engage its target audience. The company employs a mix of traditional and digital channels to promote its shows and sell tickets. Cirque du Soleil’s main channels include:

  • Permanent venues: Dedicated theaters in major cities
  • Touring shows: Temporary big-top tents in various locations
  • Online ticketing: Website and mobile app for ticket sales
  • Partnerships: Collaborations with hotels, resorts, and event spaces
  • Social media: Engaging fans through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter
  • Key Relationships Of The Business Model Canvas

    Customer Relationships

    Cirque du Soleil’s business model prioritizes building strong, lasting relationships with its customers. The company seeks to create memorable experiences that encourage repeat visits and positive word-of-mouth. Cirque du Soleil’s customer relationships are characterized by:

  • Emotional connection: Inspiring a sense of wonder and amazement
  • Personalized service: Offering VIP packages and tailored experiences
  • Community building: Fostering a loyal fan base through engagement
  • Customer feedback: Actively seeking and responding to customer input
  • Key Activities Of The Business Model Canvas

    Key Activities

    Cirque du Soleil’s business model involves several key activities that are crucial to its operations and success. These activities ensure the company consistently delivers high-quality, innovative performances to its audiences. Cirque du Soleil’s key activities include:

  • Talent acquisition: Recruiting and training world-class performers
  • Production: Designing and executing stunning visual and auditory experiences
  • Marketing: Promoting shows and engaging with target audiences
  • Logistics: Managing tours, venues, and technical requirements
  • Key Resources Of The Business Model Canvas

    Key Resources

    Cirque du Soleil’s business model relies on several key resources to create and deliver its unique value proposition. These resources are essential to the company’s success and differentiation in the market. Cirque du Soleil’s key resources include:

  • Human capital: Highly skilled performers, creative teams, and staff
  • Intellectual property: Original show concepts, music, and choreography
  • Physical assets: Permanent theaters, touring equipment, and production facilities
  • Brand reputation: Globally recognized name synonymous with innovation and quality
  • Key Partners Of The Business Model Canvas

    Key Partners

    Cirque du Soleil’s business model involves collaborating with various key partners to enhance its offerings and reach. These partnerships provide essential support, resources, and expertise to the company. Cirque du Soleil’s key partners include:

  • Venue partners: Hotels, resorts, and event spaces hosting shows
  • Technology providers: Suppliers of advanced sound, lighting, and staging equipment
  • Corporate sponsors: Brands providing financial support and cross-promotion opportunities
  • Travel agencies: Companies offering ticket packages and travel arrangements for audiences
  • Local communities: Cities and regions hosting Cirque du Soleil tours and events
  • Revenue Streams Of The Business Model Canvas

    Revenue Streams

    Cirque du Soleil’s business model generates revenue through multiple streams. The company’s primary source of income is ticket sales, but it also explores additional revenue opportunities. Cirque du Soleil’s revenue streams include:

  • Ticket sales: Income from individual and group ticket purchases
  • Merchandise: Sales of branded souvenirs, apparel, and memorabilia
  • Sponsorships: Partnerships with corporate sponsors for additional funding
  • Licensing: Granting rights to use Cirque du Soleil’s intellectual property
  • Special events: Hosting private performances and corporate functions
  • Cost Structure Of The Business Model Canvas

    Cost Structure

    Cirque du Soleil’s business model incurs significant costs in order to create and deliver its world-class performances. The company’s cost structure reflects the high-quality nature of its productions and the resources required to maintain its reputation for excellence. Cirque du Soleil’s main costs include:

  • Talent acquisition: Salaries, training, and support for performers and creative staff
  • Production costs: Expenses related to staging, equipment, and special effects
  • Touring expenses: Transportation, lodging, and logistics for touring shows
  • Marketing and sales: Promotion, advertising, and ticketing costs
  • Intellectual property: Development and protection of original show concepts and elements
  • The future of the Cirque du Soleil Business Model

    Cirque du Soleil’s future business model will likely continue to evolve and adapt to changing market conditions and customer preferences. The company may explore new avenues for growth, such as expanding its digital presence, offering immersive virtual experiences, and collaborating with other entertainment brands. Cirque du Soleil may also seek to diversify its revenue streams further by exploring opportunities in film, television, and other media. As the company continues to innovate and push the boundaries of live entertainment, it will remain focused on delivering exceptional value to its customers and maintaining its position as a global leader in the industry.

    Blue Ocean Strategy for Cirque du Soleil

    Cirque du Soleil is a prime example of a company that has successfully implemented a Blue Ocean Strategy. By creating uncontested market space and making the competition irrelevant, Cirque du Soleil has redefined the circus industry and captured new demand. The company’s Blue Ocean Strategy can be analyzed using the Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create (ERRC) framework:


    • Animal acts: Removing traditional animal performances
    • Star performers: Shifting focus from individual celebrities to ensemble casts
    • Conventional circus format: Eliminating the traditional three-ring circus structure


    • Emphasis on danger: Minimizing high-risk stunts and daredevil acts
    • Reliance on nostalgia: Reducing focus on traditional circus nostalgia and clichés
    • Ticket price sensitivity: Decreasing the importance of low ticket prices


    • Artistic elements: Elevating the role of music, dance, and storytelling
    • Production value: Increasing investment in stagecraft, costumes, and technology
    • Audience engagement: Enhancing immersive and interactive elements of the shows
    • Performer skill level: Raising the bar for talent and multidisciplinary abilities


    • Unified themes: Developing cohesive narratives and concepts for each show
    • Immersive atmospheres: Creating transportive, multi-sensory environments for audiences
    • Fusion of art forms: Combining circus, theater, dance, and live music in innovative ways
    • Upscale venues: Establishing permanent theaters and high-end touring facilities
    • Emotional resonance: Crafting performances that evoke deep feelings and connections

    By eliminating, reducing, raising, and creating these key factors, Cirque du Soleil has successfully differentiated itself from traditional circuses and created a new market space. The company’s Blue Ocean Strategy has allowed it to attract new customers, command higher ticket prices, and establish a strong brand identity. As Cirque du Soleil continues to evolve and innovate, it will be essential to maintain this strategic approach and consistently seek out new opportunities to create uncontested market space.

    Business Model Patterns Used By Cirque du Soleil

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