Ask the Audience poll reveals moviegoers’ concessions habits

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Ask the Audience

Ask the Audience is a monthly feature from Film Journal International and National CineMedia (NCM) that allows you to ask an audience of 5,000 frequent moviegoers, known as the Behind the Screens panel, the pressing questions of our industry.

Popcorn, soda, candy, and…salad?

It’s no secret that concessions play a major role in our industry and play a big role in the financial success of theatres across the country. But since only 44% of moviegoers buy concessions every time they head to the theatre, we wanted to find out what kind of improvements could be made to get the other 66% on board. How can theatres make their concessions offering more popular with moviegoers, and therefore more profitable? Well, let’s ask the audience!

The most popular concession items with our panel of moviegoers are exactly what you’d expect – popcorn, soda and candy. Not exactly a well-balanced meal, but hey, it’s okay to splurge at the movies, right? Well, maybe not. 48% of the moviegoers said they would purchase healthier alternatives if they were available.  When we asked our panel what items they would like to see added as healthy options, low-fat popcorn, salads, fresh fruit, nuts, and hummus with vegetables or pita chips were at the top of the list.

Outside of the healthy hankerings, moviegoers also seem to be craving food you might find at a quick-service restaurant. 17% of respondents want burgers and fries added to the concession stand. Other requests included higher-quality pizza (10%), chicken (7%) such as chicken tenders, more ice cream options (6%), and sandwiches (6%). Another idea that kept popping up? Flavored popcorn! Adding kettle corn or cheese or caramel-coated popcorn to the menu may be a great way to draw in a new concessions crowd.

When it comes to expanding beverage options, moviegoers had iced tea and coffee at the top of the wish list. And if you’re thinking about adding alcoholic options to the menu, you’ll be happy to hear that 45% of the Behind the Screens panel say they currently like to enjoy a drink with their movie, or would like to if it was offered at their theatre. Of those 45%, 95% say they would purchase no more than 2 drinks, so don’t worry about things getting too crazy halfway through the feature. Surprisingly, mixed drinks were the top alcoholic beverage choice at 71%, followed by beer (55%) and wine (44%).

So while popcorn and other classics continue to deliver consistent revenue, perhaps it’s time to expand your food and beverage offerings for today’s moviegoers. With a combination of healthy snacks and some classic restaurant-style options, you could be on your way to an even bigger, better, and more profitable business.

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To submit a question, email AskTheAudience@ncm.com with your name, company, contact information, and what you would like to ask the Behind the Screens panel.