New report examines the demographics and habits of moviegoers in China

By Xiong Yuqing Source:Global Times Published: 2016/2/3 18:32:04

Photo: IC

A report by Alibaba Pictures and H. Brothers Research on the Chinese movie industry in 2015 was released in three parts from Monday to Wednesday.

Closer ties between the Internet and the film industry not only brought more capital into the industry in 2015, but also provided means by which studios could get a better picture of audiences. Online ticket purchasing habits have made it possible to see who is stepping into cinemas and gather information on their preferences, where they live, how many tickets they buy and what other hobbies they may have.

"We didn't have a lot of demographics about movie audiences in the past. But recently some other companies have begun releasing audience demographics, even including things like people's zodiac signs. As more platforms collect various types of information, it is becoming possible to paint a very accurate picture of audiences," Chen Changye, the director of H. Brothers Research, told the Global Times.

An online world

Buying tickets online has become most moviegoers' first choice for attaining tickets. According to the report, in 2013 only 25 percent of moviegoers bought tickets online, while in 2014 this percentage was only 40 percent. However, this number grew to an impressive 77 percent in 2015. As for online purchasing habits, most people tended to not make their movie plans far in advance - 74 percent of the users tended to buy tickets on the same day they intended to see a film. Of these, 60 percent bought tickets three hours before a film, while 26 percent waited an hour before a film before getting tickets. Additionally, films showing between 7-8 pm had the most sales.

When it comes to targeting a film to reach a majority of audiences, studios should focus on films for young people under 25 as they made up 51 percent of movie audiences last year, while people living in second-tier cities accounted for 41 percent. However, while second-tier cities showed a stable population of moviegoers, third-tier cities had the highest amount of growth, something studios should take into account.

Some regional differences can be clearly seen when examining location. Audiences in first-tier cities tended to prefer imported movies - Fast and Furious 7 took first place at the box offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Tastes for Chinese films also seemed to fall along regional lines with comedy Goodbye Mr Loser performing best in northern cities like Shenyang and Dalian in Liaoning Province.

While male audiences showed a preference for science fiction films, females audiences were more likely to see romance films.

Age-wise, moviegoers aged 25 or under were more likely to post their opinions on a film on social media - 70 percent of people who commented on a film on social media fell within this age bracket. Among these women were more passionate when it came to recommending works they enjoyed, which made them a major force for marketing.

Addicted to film

While more than 74 percent of moviegoers only went to the theater once or twice the entire year, 7 percent saw more than six films. Most of these "movie addicts" lived in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Bejing and, according to additional Taobao research, tend to have meals delivered and prefer online payment methods when it comes to making purchases.

College students are the most "addicted" to movies. The report listed 15 colleges or universities as the places that sold the most movie tickets, with the top three being Shanghai University, Wuhan University of Technology and the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

It's interesting to note that students from Zhejiang University showed a tendency to buy a single ticket opposed to two or more, indicating that heading to the cinema may not be the first choice for students going on a date. 

"This could also be that people there prefer to go dutch on tickets. We don't have any way to tell whether single ticket buyers sitting together are friends or strangers," Chen said.

Chen also pointed out that university students made up the majority of movie audiences in 2015.

"They have a lot of time. They can even choose movies showing during workday mornings and afternoons. They are a group worth paying attention to when it comes to marketing companies. And they are still growing. Even though they are still on campus now, they will make up the majority of consumers in a few years. They can act as a weather-vane when it comes to culture. Knowing more about them can help increase profits for the next three or five years and even longer."

Newspaper headline: E-commerce invasion

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