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Gordon Paddison: Moviegoers 2010

Gordon Paddison: Moviegoers 2010

The Moviegoers 2010 research study, from Stradella Road, is intended to provide film marketers with actionable insights into how to best reach movie consumers over the next decade. It was presented on Tuesday, September 29, 2009, at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Let’s start with a goodbye…

In 1983, 106 million people, some 60% of all households in the US, tuned in at the same time to watch the last episode of M*A*S*H—a peak moment for mass market TV.

The world, of course, has changed since then. We can all agree on that, right?

And yet, when it comes to movie marketing, while we’ve made some incremental changes here and there, the truth is, we’re still largely following a mass-market approach. Too often, our marketing plan for our next picture is what we did for our last picture.

Here’s the reality: Changes in media consumption and technology usage have reached an inflection point.

– Why does our tracking and research so often surprise and disappoint us? The answer experienced movie marketers gave us in conversations was this: We still don’t know our customers/audience as well as we should. 

– Where do moviegoers really spend their time? What are the social dynamics of the decision-making process? How do we synthesize the sea changes taking place in order to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time in the right place?

Before we dig into the data, a few words about what we did and where the information you are about to see came from…

In our development, we spent time with studio colleagues who are heads of marketing, media and research. From over 30 hours of interviews, we synthesized questions to address the purchase funnel and how to best market to the consumer of the next decade.

We took the questions from marketers and went out and spoke to moviegoers. Nearly 4,000 moviegoers across all age groups participated, shedding light on the behaviors and habits that drive moviegoer awareness and decision-making. We talked to them in theaters, we called them over the telephone, and we found them online. And what we discovered was change.

Moviegoers control message timing and delivery via broadband Internet, mobile devices, and DVR’s, increasing choice in media options and consumption.

• Virtually all moviegoers (94%) are online; this is true across age groups. 88% have high speed/broadband connections.
• 86% of moviegoers across all demo segments go online via computer or mobile device at least once a day. They spend more time each week online (19.8 hours) than they do watching TV (14.3 hours).
• 73% of moviegoers surveyed have profiles on social networking sites; 46% indicate they “typically spend a lot of time socializing with friends over the Internet” (67% of the 13-17 demo; 58% of 18 to 29 demo).
• 69% of moviegoers watch online video content; moviegoers who look at video content watch videos created by other people (69%), movie trailers (66%), news-related clips (57%), and movie clips (55%).
• Mobile phone penetration has reached 90% across all ages of moviegoers; 32% of moviegoers no longer use a landline (44% of the 18-29 demo).
• 52% of moviegoers have DVRs (61% of the 30-39 demo); 71% fast-forward to skip commercials; only 17% watch live TV.


• Most moviegoers gain first awareness of upcoming releases from in-theater trailers (70%) and TV commercials (73%). Word-of-mouth (46%) and the Internet (44%) are gaining in importance and now rank ahead of such traditional methods of advertising as billboards and newspaper advertising.
• A movie’s storyline remains a critical movie decision factor and moviegoers turn equally to the Internet and TV for this key information (with young adults favoring the Internet and older audiences turning to TV); newspapers and magazines only register as a viable source for the oldest moviegoers.
• Moviegoers hear about movies from multiple sources; to learn more, 93% use Internet search to find information. Exposures that trigger online search include: Seeing a trailer (71%), seeing a TV spot (60%), someone telling you about a movie (58%).
• When they search for movie information, consumers search for more than showtimes and theater locations: They search for movie audio/visual assets (65% trailers, 49% video clips, and 33% photos), as well as story (51%) and cast information (33%).
• A majority (62%) of moviegoers now get review information online; this was consistent across all demos except the 50+ group, which also relies on newspaper reviews.
• Peer group feedback trumps critics: Feedback from consumer reviews (both positive and negative) has a greater influence on movie attendance than a critic’s voice.
• 75% say they trust a friend’s opinion more than a movie critic.
• 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 negative reviews from professional critics would keep them from going).
• The influence of the local market reviewer, as well as the impact of the Sunday review ad is declining.
• 45% of heavy moviegoers rely on movie review aggregation sites, placing a high value in seeing an average score.
• 84% of moviegoers told us that when they make up their mind to see a movie, it doesn’t matter what the critics say about it.
• Moviegoers like to talk about movies and share their thoughts and opinions, primarily through social networking, face-to-face interaction, and texting. 74% like to share thoughts and opinions about movies with others; Teens and young adults are especially influenced by this consumer voice.
• Moviegoing is a social event, an entertainment that is meant to be shared.
• 72% of moviegoers felt that “Going to the movies is one of the best types of entertainment for me, my family, and my friends.”
• 79% felt that “Going to the movies is a good escape from everyday life.” Moviegoers aged 30+ relate to this statement more than younger moviegoers.
• Moviegoers go to theaters in groups: 46% of those surveyed in theaters were attending in groups of three or more. Teens in particular go in large groups.
• Movie choice is highly influenced by group decision-making. The fact that someone else in the group wanted to see a particular movie (55%) was as important to in the decision process as the movie’s storyline (57%).

AGES 13-17
– Teen life focuses around customization of entertainment and maximizing socialization. Teens are all about sharing information and group thinking.
– Teens multi-process while watching television—surfing the internet (76%), social networking (70%), and texting (73%), all while doing homework (75%).
– More teens prefer to text than to have phone conversations.
– Social networking is a critical communication tool.
– Heavily influenced by A/V materials (both online and offline) and friends’ opinions. Go to movies in groups.
AGES 18-29
– Are digital natives that have grown up with technology. They have free time and non-traditional media consumption habits.
– More likely than all other moviegoers to go online for movie information and to share what they think about movies via social networks.
– They use the Internet for every type of information.
– 44% don’t use a landline.
– Place a high value on online consumer reviews and review aggregation sites.

AGES 30-39
– Weekend warriors: Time-constrained, parenthood dominates.
– Spend the highest number of hours online and represent the highest use of technology (Internet, broadband access, DVR ownership, and cell phone).
– View the most recorded TV, skip the most ads, via their DVRs.
– Use the Internet for a wide variety of activities including search, news, video and social networking.
– Moviegoing trips are split between those with child and those with spouse.

AGES 40-49
– High use of technology but also embrace traditional media (magazines and newspapers). Similar to 30’s moviegoers in terms of time spent online.
– Moviegoing dominated by family occasions and influenced by teens (children are older and have a voice in the process).
AGES 50-59
– Matinees more common.
– Skip ads because they think there are too many commercials on television.
– Prefer to avoid crowds.

The project was lead by Gordon Paddison, principal of Stradella Road. Marketing strategy consultant and former studio executive Linda S. Middleton worked with Stradella Road to design and execute the study, which was supported by a consortium of media companies that includes AOL, Facebook, Fandango, Google, Microsoft, MovieTickets.com and Yahoo. Nielsen NRG managed the research fieldwork.

About Stradella Road
Stradella Road is an independent marketing and consulting company that focuses on integration between traditional and new media and on pioneering unconventional media/message combinations for clients including RealD, Intuit and filmmaker Peter Jackson. Updates at: www.stradellaroad.com

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