A Vital Demographic: Fandango survey sheds light on the 18-34 crowd

Cinemas Features

“Going back several years, Fandango was ticketing, predominantly,” says Fandango chief marketing officer Adam Rockmore. “We changed our strategy from just ticketing to really being all things movies. Trailers and clips, reviews, buying tickets, rewards, home entertainment, merchandise. We want to be in all those places and make sure we connect all the pieces.”

“Connecting all the pieces” for movie-mad customers is an admirable goal—but, over the last five years, Fandango has taken it one step further, cluing studio partners and exhibitors in as to what moviegoers want out of their theatrical experience with a robust consumer-research program.

“In the last year and a half, we’ve built our own proprietary panel that [can do] much more in-depth, frequent surveys,” Rockmore notes. “We’re able to look at all moviegoers”—not just Fandango customers—“from different ages, [asking about] different genres.” One of Fandango’s more recent surveys was conducted in December, when the digital cinema hub polled more than 1,500 Millennials—defined as those between the ages of 18 and 34—about their moviegoing habits. It’s an important demographic not just for the exhibition industry as a whole, but for Fandango specifically, as 41% of the company’s total digital audience falls within that age range.

Fandango’s findings shed the light of truth on the common—and incorrect—assumption that young adults would rather stay at home with a streaming movie or a videogame than go out to the theatre. When asked about their holiday movie plans, 34% of the survey responders said they planned to see four or more movies on the big screen; 86% said they planned to see at least two.

“When people say, ‘Are Millennials going to the movies?’ I think this affirms that they definitely are,” Rockmore argues. But, then, the key: “They just need the right movies.” Fandango’s findings shed some light here, too. Topping the list of most-anticipated movies for the holiday season was, predictably, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But Rockmore points out that 18- to 34-year-olds are interested in non-blockbusters as well, the sort of films “that you’re going to end up seeing in the awards shows… Yes, they still love superhero movies and big action movies. Jurassic World, Black Panther and Avengers are always big. But you see a lot of high-anticipation early ticket buying for smaller, independent films like Lady Bird andThe Shape of Water. And that’s only going to continue to grow… There are other, offbeat offerings that are rising through the ranks to attract this audience.”

When it comes to moviegoing, Rockmore repeats the old adage that “content is king”…but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things theatres can do to convert an interest in seeing Lady Bird or Star Wars into concrete ticket sales. Look at the numbers: 78% of Millennials plan movie outings with the help of individual or group text messaging; 58% purchase tickets in advance either through an app or a website.

All these findings, Rockmore notes, point to a generational desire for ease of planning. “The 18- to 34-year-olds like to be able to simplify what they’re doing… So if they’re already chatting with friends on Facebook Messenger, they can go right to buying tickets or looking up showtimes on Fandango without having to leave their chat conversation. We’re getting great feedback from our ticketing integration on Facebook Messenger, and it’s helping facilitate much more pre-buying of movie tickets. Because at that very moment that they’re thinking and talking about going to the movies, they’re able to act on it.”

Theatres themselves are streamlining the moviegoing process and enhancing the experience by providing the sort of amenities that Millennials, per Fandango’s survey, enjoy, including recliner seats, premium-large-format screens and immersive sound. “Thankfully, exhibitors are working hard to make the moviegoing experience an event,” Rockmore explains—not just a movie, but food and drinks as well, a whole night out in one easy package. “It’s clear from our survey that Millennials want well-planned experiences. They want reserved seating. They want good bar service and good food.”

Millennial moviegoers are there—and, with their work in data gathering, Fandango provides some helpful tips on what can be done to get them through the door. Rockmore says it best: “We’re all about celebrating moviegoing, and the success of every film and every theatre is important to us. So we also want the industry to notice how excited consumers, especially Millennials, are about the latest theatre innovations, the upcoming year at the cinema and what’s coming up in the near future.”