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Cinema makes people happier

News, 22 October 2015

LONDON: Consumer happiness levels are higher in the cinema than with other media channels, leading to a positive impact on levels of engagement and creating a uniquely valuable environment for advertisers, a study has said.

In Reel happiness: Understanding the emotions of cinema goers, a paper presented at the recent ESOMAR Congress in Dublin, the authors outlined qualitative research that showed people vividly recalled many small details and emotions from their cinema experience while often failing to remember what they had even consumed on other media channels.

Anna Cremin (Head of Research and Consumer Insight at cinema advertiser Pearl & Dean) Graeme Lawrence (Director of Sales and Marketing at consumer insight agency Join the Dots) and Kelly McKnight (Consumer Trends Director, Join the Dots) explained how their research had captured "happiness levels" for five different channels and established that these were highest before and highest after attending the cinema.

Further, they reported that while each of the media channels tested was successfully tapping into a primary happiness driver to deliver clear benefits to individuals, cinema was, uniquely, tapping into two happiness drivers – Focus and Relationships – and doing so in a very powerful way.

Cinema offers consumers a rare opportunity to focus on one thing without distractions and it is usually attended with someone else, making it talkable and enhancing memory.

The authors found that participants' recall of cinema adverts was better than advertising they had been exposed to in other media.

Cinema advertising accounts for only around 1% of total media spending in the UK but is experiencing a good year in 2015. 


Spending was up 2.7% to £84m over the first six months of the year, according to the latest results from the AA/Warc UK Expenditure Report, released this week, while growth for the full year is forecast to be 5.1% with a strong fourth quarter expected following the release of new Star Wars and James Bond films.

Cremin, Lawrence and McKnight argued that "there are opportunities for brands to tap into emerging trends around 'slow time' and 'togetherness' and in doing so make themselves an even bigger part in the cinema experience".

More generally, they said that "Happiness matters to people and it should matter to brands looking to connect emotionally with consumers. So why aren't we thinking about happiness and measuring it?"

Data sourced from ESOMAR; additional content by Warc staff