No, the family market is not the largest target market

There continues to be a misconception in the community location-based entertainment (LBE) industry of what segment of the population venues should be designed to cater to. Much of this is due to the industry typically being called the 'family entertainment center industry' and most venues being called family entertainment centers (FECs).

Language frames how we think. As a result, the designs and operations of these out-of-home venues are typically shaped by the mindset that the FEC terminology creates. The problem with the term FEC is that it denotes venues for the entire family, including all age groups. Family venues are only one subcategory of the industry. Today, the vast majority of venues don't target families. Instead, they target more specific demographic groups, such as children or young adults. In fact, the two largest chains that have been around for over 40 years, Dave & Buster's and Chuck E. Cheese's, fit those two subcategories. Neither targets the family as their primary target, although Chuck E. Cheese's tries to make the visit tolerable for parents so they won't veto it. Conversely ou won't find children's whac-a-mole games for children at Dave & Buster's.

The family entertainment center industry's name also implies that the family market is the largest market to target. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There has been a significant decline in the percentage of households with at least one child. In 2023, only one-quarter of young adult households had any children.

We examined the percentage of households with children between the ages of 5 and 14, generally the age of children who would be attracted to family entertainment venues. For young adult households ages 21-35, less than one-fifth have children 5-14 (18%). Even for households aged 21-45, less than one-third have children in that age range (29%). In the vast majority of households with an age 21-45 head of household, seven in ten (71%) do not have children aged 5-14,

Younger DINKS (dual-income, no kids) is a significant demographic group to target for adult-oriented venues. They have high incomes that afford them lots of discretionary leisure spending, including for venues with quality and appealing food and beverage offerings. They also don't have the expense of raising a kid, which can cost upwards of $26,000 a year.

Since DINKS don't have children, they prefer adult events rather than family-oriented ones where there would be lots of children. DINKS, as well as young single adults, will spend a lot more per capita than a family will. Most of the rapidly growing category of social gaming venues target younger adults, including many DINKS.

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