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When do guests go to a Drive-In and what do they want to watch there?

Posted by Renee Goble on Apr 24, 2018 2:24:43 PM
Renee Goble

This is the next post in our latest series but if you can't wait for the rest to come out you can get the whole report here!

This post is a continuation of our series on our nationwide Drive-In survey. This survey data is meant to paint a broad picture of the overall spending trends of different demographics across the United States.

Last week we discussed the question -- what is the ONE thing that makes you visit a Drive-In Movie Theatre?

25% of Drive-In moviegoers stated that “family experience” is the single biggest factor that makes them visit with "nostalgia" being the second biggest motivator.

This doesn't stop the Millennial generation, though, from wanting things slightly different—comments about atmosphere and personal space were common occurrences amongst this age group.

While it's become clear that Drive-In guests are loyal when offered a great family experience, what do they want from their experience and what would improve it?

We knew that the answers to these questions would equip Drive-In operators with information they needed to safe-proof their drive-ins in the 21st century.

So, to address this, we asked guests -- How many minutes do you think the pre-show advertising should last at a Drive-In Movie Theatre? and What type of movies would you like to see at your local Drive-In Movie Theatre?

Regarding pre-show advertising, the trend we uncovered is that the younger you are, the more receptive you tend to be towards pre-show ads. It's no surprise then that, on average, respondents under 51 are prepared to watch 11 minutes 31 seconds of pre-show adverts compared to respondents over 51 who were only prepared for 9 minutes 31 seconds – a full 2 minutes less.


Still, even though those over 51 were the least receptive toward pre-show advertising, one of the biggest gaps was between the young millennials and those between ages 24-30. Between these two demographics, tolerance towards advertising drops 66 seconds, the length continuing to decrease as age increases.

Interestingly, as the tolerance towards pre-show advertising goes down, the emphasis on having a "family experience" at the Drive-In rises. Despite this though, there were several instances where “family experience” and “nostalgia” were associated with watching “old adverts.”

This suggests that the older a generation gets, the less likely they are to associate watching ads before a film with the Drive-In experience itself. Compare this to younger generations – who typically value personal space and safe social situations – and it's clear that young adults don't have an issue with watching advertisements beforehand, potentially even viewing adds as part of the movie experience.

To find a happy medium amongst all demographics then, Drive-In owners could consider varying the length of pre-show advertising according to the film rating and include old adverts to increase the “nostalgia” appeal.

This mix of contrasting desires continues, though, into the answers we received from the next question: What types of movies would you like to see at your local Drive-In Movie Theatre?

The top 5 categories that scored over a 50% approval rating with all demographics were: Comedy (81%), Action (76%), Adventure (70%), Family (68%) and Animation. However, when the results were narrowed down by gender, it was clear that men and women don't agree on what they want to watch... which could explain why you may experience some bickering on an otherwise pleasant movie date night.

At 86%, the top category for Males was Action movies. Action movies were also most popular amongst those under 18 and the 18-23 year-old demographic. In other words, if you're ever hosting a movie night and you want to show an action film – invite males under 23.

The top category for Females was Comedy (83%). Those over 51 and those between 18-23 particularly appreciated comedy films, although it would be interesting to ask a follow up question to discover what sort of comedy each demographic appreciates.

Overall, Men and Women ranked films in the following order (listed from favorite to least popular):



Basically, either toss a coin to decide which movie you're going to show, or, have a double feature night that shows both an action and comedy film. Of course, this data may not completely describe the guests at every location, so it would be worth taking time to ask further questions about what individual movie-going guests would most desire.

Wanting to delve into this further, we decided to analyze how these rankings held up when we looked at responses from the Rockstar and the Millennials Memory-Makers. Compared to all other demographics, both these groups have a high preference for the same genres: Comedy, Animation, Action, and Adventure. Family films came in fifth though, as it didn't have as much of an appeal for Millennials as it did with the Rockstars.



Even though we already mentioned what can be done to try and appeal to both men and women, if you want to make the Memory-Makers happy, try showing films that have these five elements.

We understand that this isn't always an easy task and first-run films from major studios will usually take precedent. However, when showing second-run films, looking at the rating scales provided will help dictate the greatest spread of appeal to guests by age & gender. If you're feeling inquisitive, also try using point-of-experience feedback to engage customers with your drive-in. This will get them talking about your movie choices and help you make informed decisions about which second-run films to show.

There are many ways to experiment with improving movie listings so that guests have the best viewing experience -- but what's a movie without popcorn (or if you're like us, fresh French Fries)?

The concession stand is the place where the money-making happens – and our goal at SurveyMe is to help drive foot-traffic to the concession stand while helping business owners make the best business decision possible.

So, what items would make more guests likely to visit the concession stands? How can Drive-In operators increase their bottom line while affectively meeting guests needs? In a society that thrives off of personalized options and solutions, how can Drive-Ins attract a wider concession crowd while still staying true to their retro roots?

Wanting to do a bit of detective work, we decided to ask Drive-In attendees a couple of concession related questions to see if we could discover trends in consumer behavior. What did we discover?

We'll reveal all next week – same time, same place.

Topics: Case Studies

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