There is no doubt that the cinema industry has been among the hardest hit as a result of the pandemic but, while there are still some challenges, particularly in markets like Victoria, the audience outlook is looking more positive as time progresses.
Australian audiences have continued to show their passion for experience of cinema and in the last two weeks over school holidays, families keen to get to the movies have meant record numbers since cinemas re-opened on July 2 with more than a million tickets sold in the last two weeks.
Audiences are hungry for the experience, are highly engaged and importantly, looking to see and hear positive stories from brands as much as before the pandemic, according to Guy Burbidge, managing director at Val Morgan Cinema.
“Cinema has always proven to be resilient in tough economic times and we continue to see a positive future ahead of us in terms of the value of audiences and how we can get back to working with brands in the way that we were pre-pandemic," he says.
“We knew from our sentiment analysis that people are keen to get back to the movies but we wanted to understand, through research, what is the value of that returning audience and how that can positively impact a brand as we head into the Christmas period and more generally summer, where Cinema has always played a pivotal role in brand storytelling.”
The result is research, surveying more than 1,000 cinema goers, defining The Great Escapers. During lockdown, these are people who have spent a significant amount of time in SVOD or ad-free environments but now they want to get out, enjoy the big screen experience, be social. They see cinema as a place to escape, immerse, indulge, and get back to that level of normality.
And they are more receptive to advertising. “Cinema advertising is perceived to be higher quality, more immersive, engaging, exciting and a memorable environment where brands have greater permission to tell more of their story,” says Burbidge.
“The reason why they're called The Great Escapers is because they're the most positive, the most optimistic.
“They're generally younger, with high spending power and are still looking at making significant purchase decisions in key categories likes TV’s, Appliances, Tech and planning for travel”
And in some way lockdown and the COVID-19 restrictions have created a benefit for cinemas as we all come out of lockdown.
Burbidge says the research has proven that the fundamentals of cinema remain as strong as ever. “Aussies love the movies and they have seen the ‘forced’ in home media experience as highlighting some serious shortcomings in both a quality and breadth and depth of content available," he says.
“What we’re seeing is in-home media fatigue. Through the research, audiences are telling us that entertainment at home doesn’t feel special or indulgent, there’s no anticipation and there’s a sense that they’ve seen the streaming content before.
“Put simply, it’s just not the same.
“Cinema is now, more than ever, seen as that great place for immersion, escape and indulgence – that 3rd space away from home and work. And that's really encouraging for us because that has a range of positive effects for brands.
“Cinema has always been the best lean forward platform for brands to tell their story and consistently delivers results in driving key brand metrics of consideration, preference and intent, more so than any other AV channel.”
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