<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1745228055785029&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">


Written by us, for you!


Why do people visit drive-in theaters?

Posted by Renee Goble on Apr 17, 2018 12:41:17 PM
Renee Goble

This is the third 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 concession 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 dissected the results from questions 3, 4 and 5, which were all about the distance and frequency people are willing to travel to a drive-in.

What we discovered is that the average distance most moviegoers will travel, 39.0 miles, is nearly twice as far (2.2 times) as the average distance they'll go to a hardtop (average = 18.1 miles) and that they'll make approximately 5 visits per year.

Additionally, Millennials tend to visit 5.2 times per year, suggesting that Drive-Ins are also becoming increasingly popular with those younger than 51.

While this gives us quantifiable data regarding how often people typically attend a drive-in, to truly determine how loyal they are to their theatre, we need to link it with some qualitative data.

That's why we asked Drive-In guests "What is the ONE thing that makes you visit a Drive-In Movie Theatre?

For this question, guests were able to leave a comment about what inspires them to visit. We then categorized their responses into six commonly occurring categories: family-time, nostalgia, multiple movies, personal space, atmosphere.

Interestingly, 59% of respondents gave two or more responses for why they attend, suggesting a widespread passion for the Drive-In experience amongst moviegoers.

What the comments showed is that 25% of Drive-In moviegoers suggest that “family experience” is the single biggest factor that makes people visit. In fact, 33% of all Female comments and 26% of Males valued the family aspect of the outdoor drive-in theatre.

While the “family experience” factor ranks highest amongst almost all Female age groups (except amongst 18-23 year-olds), it peaks highest with Females in the 31-40 age group.



"Nostalgia" and "atmosphere," however, are very important to Male moviegoers. Only the 31-40 Male demographic ranked “nostalgia” as number 2, right behind – you guessed it – “family experience." For Males younger than 31, “atmosphere” (being outside / under stars) ranked as the 2nd most important pull of a Drive-In and 1 in 5 Male Drive-In moviegoers under 24 say “personal space” is THE biggest factor that makes them visit a Drive-In.

However, Females under 24 primarily value the “personal space” aspect that a Drive-In provides (which, according to the comments, basically means a “safe social space”). In other words, Millennials continue to buck trends.

What the response patterns revealed is that there are two major demographics that can be labeled "Memory Makers of the Future." The first of these is Females between 31-50. You've probably already read our nationwide concession survey series, but in that series, we uncovered 3 groups that are catalysts in the theatre. These were Females 31-40 ("Rockstars"), Millennials ("Rebels"), and those over 51 ("Reliables").

We found that a Drive-In Rockstar Memory-Maker is a Female between 35-45 years old, slightly older than a hardtop Rockstar, and visits the Drive-In primarily for a “family experience” and “nostalgia." The NPS score for this group is 9.3 and most of their comments were highly constructive and positive, suggesting Rockstar Memory Makers are the strongest advocates for the future of Drive-Ins.

By passing on traditions and experiences to future generations, Drive-In Rockstars are THE “Memory-Makers of the Future": they're the decision-makers highly impacting a Drive-In's attendance.

The other influential demographic is what we labeled the "Millennial Memory-Makers." These are a fast-growing movie-theatre demographic and 41% of them made positive suggestions about how to improve their Drive-In experience. Now, we all know that Millennial movie attendance is up over previous years (according to a 2016 study by the MPAA), but does this remain true for Drive-Ins?



Millennials crave the “experience economy.” Cue the #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This corresponds to the data we uncovered that suggests a large portion of Millennials visit the Drive-In because it provides them with a social space. The NPS score for Millennials attending a Drive-In is also quite high, further suggesting that they are going to the Drive-In looking for a unique experience they can share -- in person and online -- with their friends. This means Drive-In owners have a prime opportunity to further engagement by continuing to create a “safe social space” where Millennials, specifically, can gather.

While these were the main two demographics, what this question also showed is that there are diverse reasons for attending the local drive-in and "experience" was the overarching theme. What owners can do to increase foot traffic is testing key appealing factors and facilities that promote specific features. These might include the benefits of the “family experience” to moms and dads between ages 35-45, “bring family or friends” offers and cultivating the concept of a “safe social space” for Millennials.

You may be thinking, "well – all this is fine and dandy, but if people are attending the Drive-In for a multi-faceted social experience, how can we find out what aspects of their experience need to be improved?"

We're so glad you asked! We'll be covering all that, and more, in our next couple of series posts.

Subscribe Trust us, it's worth it.