Why cinema is the ultimate experiential reward for millennial employees

Our recent eBook The Millennial Mindset: How to Attract and Retain Millennial Employees delves into the reality of the modern employee. From a growing demand for flexible working hours, to the need for connectivity, we’ve discovered exactly what makes millennial employees tick and how employers can adapt to this contemporary workforce.

One particularly interesting trend is the desire for an experiential reward, rather than the traditional monetary incentive. If employers invest in their employees in the right way, they can bring real value to the workplace and foster loyalty to the business.



The big screen can’t be matched by TV

Cinema is tailor made to fit millennials’ desire for immersive, culturally relevant and sociable benefits. It is a medium that has proved enduringly popular, riding the onslaught of television, VHS, and even a raft of digital devices that enable on demand viewing.

“The big screen experience can’t be replicated by TV,” John Partilla, CEO of US cinema advertising company, Screenvision, told Adweek.com earlier this year. “There will always be a captive, attentive audience for movies.”

It seems that millennials are no different. US cinema advertising company, National CineMedia (NCM) claims that its millennial film-going audience grew over 16% in 2015 and was already up a further 8% in May this year.



Millennials visit the cinema at least every two months

A study from Movio, a data analytics specialist, in June 2016 supports this. It states that:

  • Millennials visit the cinema on average 6.2 times a year
  • Millennials account for 29% of ticket purchases

As Movio chief executive and co-founder Will Palmer says, “Our data science analysis demonstrates that millennials are far more engaged in cinema than the industry’s anecdotally driven belief to the contrary.”


“Millennials know what they want, when they want it, and where to find it…They like to be told stories, stories that make a real impact and stories that they can pass on and talk about to their peers. This applies to all their media consumption, but is especially relevant when it comes to cinema.” Zoe Jones, Marketing Director, DCM.

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Rewarding the millennial workforce with the big screen

Rewarding employees with cinema tickets enables recipients to not only enjoy a memorable experience, but to tailor that experience to their own taste. “It is a cliche, but cinema really does offer something for everyone, particularly now that digital has added live theatre and concert viewings into the mix,” says Chris Baldwin speaking from Filmology, part of the Sodexo family.


“Millennials respond well to cinema as a reward because it creates the experience that they value but allows them to enjoy it with friends. Cinema tickets are an instant way of recognising achievement and showing employees they are valued – something millennials are proven to crave.”


But it is not just the content itself which is appealing to millennials. Cinema technology has

moved on too. In 2015, UK cinema completed its shift from 35mm celluloid film to digital projection, and many film distributors now only release their films in digital format.

Digital cinema brings a number of advantages to viewers:

  • Access to a greater choice of content
  • The ability to screen live events such as plays, concerts or sports events.
  • Improved picture and sound quality
  • Access to 3D film


The global portion of 3D digital screens increased by 2% to 53% of all digital screens in 2015 (source: MPAA, 2015)



Cinema as a reward for millennials



One particularly impressive 3D film was The Walk, released in 2015. It told the story of Philippe Petit’s tightrope stroll between the Twin Towers in 1973. As Petit steps out onto the wire, the camera spins above and then sends viewers plunging 1300 feet…virtually, at least.



The next dimension

The Walk could also be seen in 4D, allowing the audience to feel the pressure of the steel cable… 4D first appeared in the UK at Cineworld in Milton Keynes in January 2015. The technology takes viewer immersion to the next level, combining 3D film with rocking seats, water sprays, gusts of air and scents pumped into the cinema to coincide with the on screen action.

The BBC reported this summer that while there are only about 1,000 screens globally (less than 1% of the total) using 4D technology, that number is “rising fast.” D-Box, the South Korean market leader, expects to be in 1,000 theatres by the end of 2016.


We can trick the brain to make you believe you’re in the movie … it’s so well timed with the soundtrack and the visual that we bring another level of narrative to the storytelling.” Michel Paquette, marketing chief at cinematic motion specialists, D-box.



Give something back

Out of all the trends defining the millennial mindset, an experiential reward represents a tangible opportunity to give something back to your employees without breaking the bank.

By showing your workforce you value them, that you understand their needs – and are ready and willing to recognise them with worthwhile incentives – there’s every chance your millennial employees will stick with you in the long term.


To learn more about how your business can adapt to modern millennial demands, click below!

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