Snack Statistics: SurveyMe findings reveal moviegoers’ concession preferences

Cinemas Features

This spring, SurveyMe presented the findings of its massive survey of moviegoers in a presentation called “Candy, Cocktails & Cinema Cuisine in 2018.” Between January and March 2018, 10,242 moviegoers from 35 states across North America were asked 13 questions about their concessions experiences. Film Journal International is pleased to publish some highlights from this wide-ranging survey.

*49% of all respondents say they visit the concession stand “every time,” while 26% visit “most times.”

* The “Big Four” most popular concession products that moviegoers buy are popcorn (39%), soda (33%), candy (12%), ICEEs (5%).

* 90% of those over 51 purchase at least one of the top four items, with popcorn being the most popular.

* The percentage of people purchasing popcorn and soda goes up with age, with Over 51s being most likely to purchase popcorn and soda.

* Almost 9 out of every 10 moviegoers who buy candy also buy popcorn (89%) and soda (85%).

* 82% of Over 51s who buy popcorn also buy soda.

* Millennials buy a relatively high percentage of items outside the Big Four—including pretzels, hot dogs and pizza. This suggests they are happier to try new things.

* Besides the Top Four, pretzels, hot dogs and alcohol are the most purchased items by Females 31-40.

* Guests aged 25-30 and 31-40 are most likely to purchase alcohol. These age groups are also the most likely to attend a dine-in theatre.

* 20% of those who buy popcorn also buy candy. Finding out what candy guests mix with their popcorn is a proven way to increase ATV (Average Transaction Value).

* 27% of all moviegoers want to buy hot beverages at the concession, but only 0.5% of them currently do buy hot beverages (tea, coffee, hot chocolate). This suggests that these hot beverages should be options at every theatre.

Which items would moviegoers like to see added to the concession stand?

* Overall, Males and Females equally say that they want French fries (17%), fruit and veggies (14%), ice cream (13%), and then pizza (12%).

* French fries are the number-one food item suggestion for all age groups except those Over 51.

* For Millennials, French fries are the number-one choice for new concession items (over 1 in 5 respondents) followed by ice cream (14%) and pizza (11%).

* Reliables (males and females over 51) also say they want fruit and veggies (16%), ice cream (15%), and then French fries (12%).

* 27% of respondents wanted hot drinks (coffee, tea or hot chocolate) added to the menu. As a combined category, this is the #1 request from all respondents.

* 42% of Reliables want hot drinks, making them the age group that most requested hot drinks.

* Regarding hot drinks, those Under 30 want hot chocolate more than coffee while those Over 30 want coffee most, then hot chocolate. Hot tea ranked third for all demographics.

Attitudes of Millennials:

* Millennials will spend an average of $19.40 at the concession stand.

* 62% of moviegoers who admit to sneaking food into a movie theatre are Millennials.*

* 39% of 18-24 year olds bring their own snacks to the theatre.

* The #1 reason why 69% of Millennial respondents do not purchase food is that “concession food is a bad value.”*

* 43% state they'd “rather spend money elsewhere.” On further investigation, this comment is far more about experiential and social value than simply a price issue. Millennials are willing to pay the same price (AMC pizza $8.79 versus fast-casual B-Y-O pizza $8.75) and up to a 25% premium over movie theatre pizza prices in adjacent "build-your-own” (BYO) fast-casual pizza restaurants. The main reasons given were ability to customize, personalize, experiment and share pizzas at a table between friends.

* 23% of 18- to 24-year-olds did say that one of the reasons they didn't purchase anything is because concession stands “don't have the food I want.”

* Relative to other answers, 21% of Millennial respondents stated they most want to buy fries at the movie theatre, followed by ice cream (14%) and pizza (11%) as a new concession item at a movie theatre. These are all typically customizable indulgence foods that need to be consumed immediately after purchase, making them difficult to sneak in and more palatable to buy within a movie theatre than an adjacent business.

* Source: SurveyMe study “Rebels, Rockstars & Reliables” (2017)

The survey also covered such areas as candy and alcohol preferences, customer incentives, and interest in dine-in theatres and eSports. For more information, visit