Leisure and entertainment – trends and insights roundup for 2023
December 22nd, 2023, Kineree Shah

Leisure and entertainment – trends and insights roundup for 2023

As the year draws to a close, we reflect on the evolving landscape of the leisure and entertainment sector. This article provides a comprehensive roundup of global trends and insights, offering a glimpse into consumer preferences and industry shifts.

Museums more popular than theme parks?

Despite a general consensus that museums offer an enjoyable experience, with eight in 10 consumers in the US and Britain acknowledging their appeal (81% and 79% respectively), there's a stark contrast in actual visitation patterns. Over half of these consumers rarely, if ever, visit museums, highlighting a gap between appreciation and participation.

Our latest data also reveals that a quarter of consumers have never visited a theme park (26%). This trend is more pronounced in Europe and North America, where the figures rise to 33% and 30%, respectively. In contrast, the APAC region and the UAE exhibit a markedly different pattern with only 5% of consumers stating they don’t visit theme parks.

For those who do visit theme parks, the primary motivation appears to be the pursuit of quality time with family and friends. This reason for visiting is especially prevalent in the APAC region and the UAE, where more than a quarter (28% and 27% respectively) of consumers cite it as their top reason for attending theme parks. Overall, 23% of theme park visitors across all regions indicate that spending time with loved ones is their main incentive for purchasing a ticket.

2023 marked Disney’s 100th anniversary. According to YouGov's tracking data, Disneyland has outperformed the average scores of all amusement parks in key metrics among American consumers, underscoring its enduring appeal and the strong connection it maintains with its audience.

Conversely, world attractions like Global Village dominate the leisure scene in the UAE making it the most visited domestic attraction in the region. Our data shows that it is likely to remain the top attraction in the future as well.

Shifting dynamics towards cinema and out-of-home entertainment

Across 18 markets, half of the public are increasingly aware of the rise in the cost of out-of-home entertainment such as cinema or concerts (48%). Despite this uptick in prices, there remains a segment of the population (13%), who anticipate increasing their spending on these leisure activities over the next six months.

Consumer perception regarding the digital experience offered by cinemas has shifted. Only 19% say that cinemas provide a good digital experience, a decline from 23% last year. When it comes to choosing a cinema, word-of-mouth recommendations remain a significant factor, influencing the decisions of half of consumers in markets around the world. Interestingly, over a third (36%) of cinema-goers express enjoyment in watching advertisements at the cinema. Additionally, 3D virtual reality technology is gaining traction, with its appeal increasing by seven percentage points over 12 months to 36%.

In the US, there's a distinct trend of purchasing advance screening movie tickets, with one in 10 consumers showing a preference for this option. This particular group of consumers is more inclined towards podcasts and likely to be influenced by podcast advertisements.

Our research also delves into the behaviors that are deemed unacceptable by American and British cinemagoers. The most frowned upon practice is taking phone calls during a movie. Additionally, eight out of ten people think bringing babies to cinemas is unacceptable. 

2023 saw the release of two mega movies – Barbie and Oppenheimer. In a separate study we looked at the differences and interests of Barbie and Oppenheimer fans in the US and UK.

Impact of recalls and influence of social media in the toy industry

The aftermath of product recalls in the toy industry reveals a cautious consumer base. In the US nearly half (45%) were hesitant to purchase toys from a brand that had experienced a product recall, however British consumers show slightly less reluctance (39%).

Turning to the influence of social media on consumer behavior, our data reveals that one in 10 consumers across 18 markets engage with product reviews for toys on these platforms. This statistic highlights the role of social media in shaping purchasing decisions and the importance of online reviews in the consumer's decision-making process.

In the APAC, half of residents (45%) believe children’s toys are too gendered but when asked which toys were suitable for different genders, the responses were far less progressive. Only slightly more than one in ten of the respondents (13%) think Barbie is suitable for boys to play, while just a quarter of those polled believe that it is suitable for boys to be playing with either an easy bake oven (26%) or a tea sets (23%). By contrast, more than nine in ten (91%) believe Barbie is suitable for girls to play, while three-quarters (74%) of people feel it is suitable for girls to play with an easy bake oven or a tea set.

AI's emerging role in the entertainment sector

Half of business decision-makers view the future regulation of AI as a major risk or limitation associated with the technology. Close behind, 46% express concerns about the impact of using invalid or biased data in AI systems.

Despite these concerns, consumer interest in AI's applications, particularly in the entertainment sector, is on the rise. A poll involving over 9,000 US adults in August 2023 indicates a growing openness to AI-generated content. Notably, 13% of respondents expressed definite interest in watching movies produced by major studios with scripts partially written by AI.

But on the job front, there's a notable level of anxiety about AI's impact on employment. A quarter of consumers across 18 markets (27%) fear losing their jobs due to AI advancements. In the US and Britain, specific roles such as technical support, website copywriting, accounting, and software development are identified as areas where AI is expected to outperform humans within the next five years. 

Evolving patterns in dating 

Our data reveals that 7% of consumers have continued dating online post-pandemic. In fact, one in 10 people across 18 markets have met their current partners via dating app or website.

When examining the role of social media in the dating scene, data from 48 markets indicates a shift since the pandemic. While a considerable minority of consumers continue to use social media for dating, the percentage has seen a decline. In 2023, only 15% of consumers used social media for dating purposes, a noticeable drop from 22% in the previous year.

In the US, the chatter surrounding relationships appears to lean towards the negative, with more than half (56%) of mentions reflecting this sentiment. Meanwhile, in Britain, the economic climate seems to have an impact on singles. Two in five singles in the UK (43%) have felt that the cost-of-living crisis has affected them more adversely compared to their counterparts in romantic relationships.

Current trends in fitness

A tenth of UK consumers own a smart fitness device (10%). Another 12% of UK consumers plan to purchase smart exercise equipment in the future and a quarter of them are happy to spend anything between £500-£1000. This increased interest in smart fitness solutions is partly attributed to the pandemic, as 17% of global consumers across 18 markets have continued with remote fitness activities initiated during lockdowns. 

There is a notable interest in second-hand gym equipment, with a quarter of consumers (24%) considering this option. This trend reflects a broader shift towards more affordable and sustainable choices in fitness gear.

So, what kind of ads work best for fitness enthusiasts? In Britain, mobile phone social media ads are more likely to capture their attention. Three-fifths of prospective gym-goers are members of Facebook.

However, marketers should approach this audience with sensitivity, as half of gym-goers, both past and present, report feeling self-conscious while exercising (51%). This issue is more pronounced among women, with three in five feeling self-conscious (59%) compared to two in five men (42%).

Evolving landscape of live events

The pandemic gave rise to virtual events and our data reveals that even post lockdown, 11% of consumers across 18 markets continue to attend them. However, this trend hasn't diminished the appeal of in-person events. A significant 45% of consumers express a likelihood of attending food and drink festivals in 2024, underscoring the enduring allure of physical gatherings.

The year also saw an increase in safety concerns at live events. In Britain, one-fifth of concert attendees reported witnessing incidents where objects were thrown at performers (22%). This disturbing trend has led to a deeper investigation into the attitudes and behaviors of concertgoers in both the US and Britain, highlighting the need for enhanced safety measures and audience management strategies at public events.

Dynamic pricing has emerged as a notable topic in the US entertainment sector. More than half of American consumers (54%) are open to paying higher prices for concert tickets, provided that a greater portion of the proceeds benefits the artists. 

When it comes to musical tastes, there's a clear transatlantic divide. British audiences predominantly favor pop music, whereas American preferences lean towards classic rock.

Gambling and betting trends in 2023

.There's an increasing interest in innovative betting formats, notably cryptocurrency betting, gaining traction in both American and British markets. Additionally, AI-assisted betting is emerging as a significant trend, with seven in 10 American bettors showing willingness to utilize AI for decision-making in betting.

YouGov's Global Gambling Report for 2023 offers crucial insights into gambling attitudes and activities. Set against the backdrop of an ever-changing landscape of gambling legislation, this report focuses on the North American market but benchmarks gambling behaviors from 23 countries. 

Key among these findings is the rise of a younger gambling demographic in the US, whose views differ from traditional bettors. Moreover, the report addresses the growing public concerns about the gambling industry in the North American market where online gambling markets are entering new phases of development. Stakeholders in the industry and observers alike will find this analysis especially pertinent as they navigate these changes.

Download the full YouGov report for an in-depth understanding of these trends and more.

Cover photo by Brett Sayles