One of the most important steps in establishing your family entertainment centre (FEC) is understanding your target market. Just as importantly, you need to understand which attractions appeal to these people. Researching your target market’s interests and habits will help you determine which attractions will make the biggest impact on your customers. In this guest article, CSI sponsor Creative Works sets out their recommendations on selecting the right attractions for each demographic.
The Four Active Generations
There are four main generations that are socially active and enjoy going to FECs. They are Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers and they each vary in age, interests and hobbies. In order to choose attractions for each group, we must first understand the behaviors of the groups to find out what motivates their buying behaviors.
The first and youngest generation we’ll look at is Gen Z. This generation is made up of kids currently in junior high, high school and early college. This generation is characterized as entrepreneurial and tech savvy. They are very comfortable with digital technology and have used it for most of their lives. Gen Z prefer cool products over experiences and they are connected to digital devices for 10+ hours a day.
They are young and therefore don’t have much spending power alone. However, they have more influence on household spending than any previous generation. If you want mom to spend money, get buy-in from her kids because they are a huge factor in purchasing decisions.
Older than Gen Z, Millennials are individuals whose ages range from young people exiting college to those in their mid 30s. Millennials value access, not ownership (e.g. ride share services). They look to their personal networks for buying decisions and they’re currently the largest generation in the US labour force. They are also very tech-savvy and team-oriented. While they spend less in total dollars on out of home entertainment than other generations, they proportionally spend much more of what they earn. Plus, they are entering their prime discretionary spending years.
Gen X is the generation of people in their late 30s to mid 50s. This generation was the driving force in the shift of work/life balance. They use technology as a tool but they are not dependent on it. Gen X is closely tied to their Gen Z children and they spend more money on their children than they spend on themselves. They are looking for a single entertainment experience from start to finish; they don’t want to “run errands” for entertainment.
The final active generation we will look at is Baby Boomers. Baby Boomers make up the group of people in their mid 50s through retirement. They are the wealthiest generation, which likely comes from their workaholic mindset. Baby Boomers are cool, calm and collected buyers; they carefully think through buying decisions before taking action. Baby Boomers are driven by facts, track records and dependability. Most importantly, they spend the most total dollars on leisure and entertainment compared to the other generations.
Now that we have an understanding of the different generations and their interests and behaviors, we can start to break down some common FEC attractions and see which generations they appeal to. These are high-level recommendations based on the common characteristics of each generation. This is not a list of concrete rules. There are always exceptions and every business and market is different, but these recommendations will help you get started on selecting attractions for your audience and your goals.
Due to their knowledge and fascination with the digital world and technology, Gen Z is more than willing to pay for immersive experiences. Virtual reality caters to their interests by combining technology with the social interaction found in location based entertainment venues. It is also something that most people can’t get at home (at least not to the same extent), so they are willing to venture out and spend money on it.
A few years ago, not many people had heard of Esports. Today, Esports is one of the fastest growing industries. In 2019, global Esports revenues topped $1 billion and that number will continue to climb for at least the next few years. FECs are using Esports to generate massive engagement through tournaments and leagues. But don’t get caught thinking Esports are only for the young kids. The average age of a gamer today in the US is 35, so there are opportunities across the board with this attraction.
Gen Z is also interested in the online economy of “Instagrammable” moments. In their world, if they didn’t share pictures online, then it didn’t happen. So it’s important to facilitate “Kodak” moments where groups of friends can take selfies and capture their experiences. You can do this with just about any attraction, but themed laser tag arenas and mini golf courses in particular provide great opportunities for these moments.
Ropes courses and ninja courses are also great options for the younger members of Gen Z. Many FECs are putting in ropes courses to not only provide a fun experience, but also to increase capacity by installing them above arcades and other attractions
For Millennials, entertainment is all about unique and social experiences. They are drawn to attractions that facilitate teamwork and social engagement with their friends. For this reason, escape rooms can often be a perfect fit for Millennials. As a tech-savvy group, they will be drawn toward escape rooms that use technology as part of the game experience.
When it comes to social interaction, bowling checks all of the boxes for Millennials. They get a chance to have a competitive game among friends while spending money on food and beverages. Bowling has made huge strides in technology recently and today’s experiences have leather couches, touchscreen scoring monitors, lighting effects and even projection mapping.
The “Instagrammable” moments concept from Gen Z applies to Millennials as well. No matter what attractions you provide, make them memorable and give your customers a reason to share their experiences online.
Most of the attractions listed under Gen Z apply here as well, but not for the same reasons. As the parents of Gen Z, Gen X will likely accompany their kids and pay for their leisure activities. This is why they want a one-stop-shop for entertainment. They can either join the kids for a family experience or sit down and enjoy a good meal while the kids run around.
Gen X doesn’t value digital technology as much as younger generations. At the very least, they don’t spend as much time with digital devices. They still want the amazing experiences, but they’re less likely to take selfies and post them online. If you want to book a lot of corporate and team-building events, this generation will likely make up a big portion of the company. For these kinds of events, you’ll need attractions with high capacity and the ability to track scores for competition.
Baby Boomers are the wealthiest generation so they don’t mind paying more for longer lasting experiences. Since they carefully think through buying decisions and are driven by facts and data, they are less likely to try out newer, more technology-driven attractions. Instead, they tend to prefer more classic experiences that they’ve known for years, like bowling and mini golf. That being said, if they are spending time with their grandkids, they are more likely to try new experiences they otherwise would have ignored.
This conversation goes beyond the activities that most people associate with the word “attractions.” It also includes food and beverage. A decade ago, most facilities could get by with a glorified “snack shack” concession stand. But consumers have higher expectations today. Good food will make it easier to get customers in the door and keep them there longer, especially the older generations like Baby Boomers.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of attractions. There are countless options in the market, many of which can be great fits for multiple generations. Some of these include laser tag, go-karts, trampolines, arcades, axe throwing and mini golf. When you understand who your target market really is and what drives their buying decisions, it becomes easier to understand which attractions will resonate with them. But once you make your attraction decisions, your job isn’t done. The industry is constantly evolving and new attractions are always being developed. The highest performing FECs are always looking for new ways to enhance their facility and engage their customers.
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