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New Study Details Importance of Digital Technology in Moviegoer Awareness and Decision-Making

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A new­ly com­mis­sioned research study of near­ly 4,000 movie­go­ers finds that an over­whelm­ing num­ber of peo­ple across all age groups have ful­ly adopt­ed dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and increas­ing­ly depend on them to gain infor­ma­tion about new movie releas­es and help with their deci­sions about which films to see. Consumer Spending logo

The study, titled "Movie­go­ers: 2010," is intend­ed to pro­vide film mar­keters with action­able insights into how best to reach movie con­sumers over the next decade.

The study found that the Inter­net and word-of-mouth are gain­ing in impor­tance (close­ly fol­low­ing in-theater trail­ers and TV com­mer­cials) as a way that movie­go­ers dis­cov­er upcom­ing film releas­es and now rank ahead of tra­di­tion­al meth­ods of adver­tis­ing such as bill­boards and news­pa­per ads. The impor­tance of peer group feed­back (social net­work­ing, face to face inter­ac­tion, tex­ting) in the decision-making process was also a key find­ing of the study, with teens and young adults espe­cial­ly influ­enced by this con­sumer voice. 75% said they trust a friend's opin­ion more than a movie crit­ic, while 74% of respon­dents said they like to share thoughts and opin­ions about movies with oth­ers.

  Key study findings include:
  • Vir­tu­al­ly all movie­go­ers (94%) are online; this is true across all age groups.
  • 86% of movie­go­ers across all demo seg­ments go online via com­put­er or mobile device at least once a day.
  • In a giv­en week, the aver­age movie­go­er spends more time going online (19.8 hours) than they do watch­ing TV (14.3 hours).
  • 73% of movie­go­ers sur­veyed have pro­files on social net­work­ing sites; 69% watch video con­tent online.
  • Mobile phone pen­e­tra­tion has reached 90% across all ages of movie­go­ers; 32% of movie­go­ers (44% of the 18–29 demo) no longer use a land­line phone.
  • 52% of movie­go­ers (61% of the 30–39 demo) have DVR devices, with 71% report­ing they fast-forward to skip com­mer­cials; only 17% of respon­dents say they watch live TV.
  • 93% report that they use inter­net search to find infor­ma­tion about new movie releas­es.
  • 62% of respon­dents said they get their movie review infor­ma­tion online; this was con­sis­tent across all demos except the 50+ group, which still also relies on news­pa­per reviews.
  • Peer group feed­back trumps crit­ics: 80% say pos­i­tive reviews from oth­er movie­go­ers makes them more like­ly to see a movie (vs. 67% who say a pos­i­tive review from pro­fes­sion­al crit­ics does); 40% say neg­a­tive reviews from oth­er movie­go­ers makes them decide not to see a movie (vs. 28% who say a neg­a­tive review from pro­fes­sion­al crit­ics would keep them from going).
  • 84% of movie­go­ers said that when they make up their mind to see a movie, it doesn't mat­ter what crit­ics think about it.

The impor­tance of "group think" emerged as a key fac­tor with con­sumers. Movie­go­ers inter­viewed in the­aters indi­cat­ed that the fact that some­one else in the group want­ed to see a par­tic­u­lar movie (55%) was as impor­tant in the decision-making process as the movie's sto­ry­line (57%). 46% of those sur­veyed were attend­ing in groups of three or more. 91% of par­ents with chil­dren 12 or younger said they decide to see movies that either the child asked to see of that they equal­ly want to see.

Anoth­er key find­ing of the study focus­es on seg­men­ta­tion. Rather than base the data on the tra­di­tion­al four-quadrant sys­tem cur­rent­ly used by most movie mar­keters, the "Movie­go­ers: 2010" sur­vey was com­piled using a seg­men­ta­tion approach that con­sid­ers both age and stage of life, tak­ing into account that people's moviego­ing habits evolve as their time and pri­or­i­ties change.

The teen years of 13–17 are focused around cus­tomiza­tion of enter­tain­ment and max­i­miz­ing social­iza­tion; this group is all about shar­ing infor­ma­tion. They like to multi-process while doing home­work and are more like­ly to text than to have a phone con­ver­sa­tion. Social net­work­ing is a crit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool, and they are heav­i­ly influ­enced by audio-visual mate­ri­als (both online and offline) and friends opin­ions. They like to attend movies in groups.

The years of 18–29 are pop­u­lat­ed with "dig­i­tal natives" who have grown up with tech­nol­o­gy. They have free time and non-traditional media con­sump­tion habits, using the Inter­net for every type of infor­ma­tion. They are more like­ly than all oth­er movie­go­ers to go online for movie infor­ma­tion and to share what they think about movies via social net­works. 44% of those sur­veyed from this group don't own a land­line phone, and they place a high val­ue on online con­sumer film reviews and review aggre­ga­tion sites.

The ages of 30–39 are marked by time con­straints. Par­ent­hood and work dom­i­nate and they are "week­end war­riors" attend­ing movies pri­mar­i­ly dur­ing the week­end. This group spends the high­est num­ber of hours online and rep­re­sents the high­est usage of tech­nol­o­gy, as well as the high­est DVR pen­e­tra­tion and most record­ed TV view­ing.

The ages of 40–49 are marked by a high usage of tech­nol­o­gy but also embrace tra­di­tion­al media such as news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines. Ages 50–59 is the heav­i­est TV-viewing demo and rep­re­sents an uptick for tra­di­tion­al media and a slight­ly low­er pen­e­tra­tion of tech­nol­o­gy.

"Movie­go­ers: 2010," con­duct­ed by con­sult­ing firm Stradel­la Road, Sep­tem­ber 30, 2009.  Web­site: www​.stradel​laroad​.com.