There are basically three primary target markets for family entertainment center type venues. Adult venues, almost all of which target younger adults, have always achieved the highest per square foot sales, basically due to both the alcohol and adult-only households having the highest per person spending on community-based entertainment. Children’s centers typically target children around age 8 and younger. They can be very profitable as attested to by the success of Chuck E. Cheese’s. There is a third market beside kids and adults. It’s the family market that basically targets families with children 12 and younger. To be successful there, you need to cater to both the children and to the adults. That’s where many family-oriented FECs miss the boat. They tend to dumb down the décor, ambiance and even the food and beverage for the kids, so the facility is not really a destination that adults want to go to. Yes, we can make it a little more tolerable with beer, what we call the dad pacifier, but still, it’s the kids that end up driving the decision as it’s designed for them, however it’s the adults who hold the veto power.
We have found over our 22-years working in the community-based entertainment industry that to really be successful with the family market, the facility needs to be designed to adult standards. You need to take the business to a more sophisticated level so it also has an adult appeal for the parents. The family market is the primary target market, but properly designed and managed, you can even attract the adult market as the secondary market versus a place like Dave & Buster’s that has a primary market of adults and captures some family market as a secondary market. Either way, you still need to decide who your primary market is and design for them. In the restaurant industry, a comparable would be Red Robin that has achieved the right level and mix of appeal, targeting the family market, while maintaining a level of experience that also works for adults, at least for the adults that come with the family. They didn’t dumb the place down as a kid restaurant.
Actually the same holds true for children’s entertainment and edutainment centers. Although targeting children, you also have to offer the adults a good experience. When we design children’s edutainment centers, we tend to consider them as two separate areas, one is the children’s play and discovery areas and the other is a adult-friendly and appealing café area. But even in the children’s areas, the interior décor is designed to adult standards. Actually Chuck E. Cheese’s has a lot of features that are designed to cater to the parents and meet their needs. That’s why they achieve one of the highest per square foot sales in the FEC industry (other than the adult venues) and one of the highest EBITDAs in both the FEC and restaurant industries.
Households with children account for almost half (46%) of all community-based entertainment spending. Don’t miss out on success with either the children’s or family markets by forgetting it consists of not only children, but also adults.