We’ve all been there. You’re settled in for a movie night with some friends, or seated in the cinema and about an hour in, someone reaches for or gets the urge for popcorn. Soon enough, everyone is munching away on something, whether it’s popcorn, sweets, or even crisps. But have you ever stopped to wonder why we snack when watching films? Is it just because the food smells good, or is there something more to it? Is it because the appearance of a branded usherette tray filled with snacks or ice creams triggers a snack purchase i.e. the effects of marketing?

Focusing On Something Else While Eating

The psychology behind snacking during movies is actually pretty interesting. Numerous studies have shown that eating while watching TV can lead to overeating. One reason for this is that people tend to eat mindlessly when they’re focused on something else. This is especially true if the food is easy to eat (like popcorn) and there’s no set amount (like a pre-packaged bag of chips). We’re more likely to overeat when we’re not paying attention to how much we’re eating. Whether buying popcorn and ice creams from an usherette tray in the cinema to eating snacks in front of a movie n the TV at home, we sometimes eat snacks on ‘automatic’.

Frequency Illusion

Another reason we snack while watching movies is because of something called the “frequency illusion.” This phenomenon occurs when we see something over and over again, leading us to believe that it’s happening more often than it actually is. For example, you might notice that you see a lot of ads for a certain product after you start using that product yourself. This doesn’t mean that the company is purposely targeting you; it’s just a quirk of human psychology. Advertising is said to need at least 4 repetitions to start being remembered and a branded usherette tray full of snacks can also help to remind people of the advertising and of any satisfaction (or not) that they may have got from the snacks in the usherette tray which can help prompt purchase.

The frequency illusion also applies to snacking during films. We tend to see characters eating onscreen more often than they actually are, which makes us believe that eating while watching TV is normal behavior. In reality, though, movie characters generally only eat about once every 20 minutes or so. Compare that to the average person, who snacks about once every 10 minutes while watching TV!

The Power Of Marketing

Advertisements are designed to trigger an emotional response that encourages consumers to make a purchase. While some ads rely on positive feelings like happiness or excitement, others tap into more negative emotions like fear or envy. In either case, the goal is to create a desire for the product that leads the viewer to take action. Branded material, such as logos and mascots, or even branded usherette trays can also influence purchasing decisions. These iconic images create an instant association between the product and positive emotions like happiness or pride. As a result, consumers are more likely to purchase a product when they see these familiar images. Keep this in mind the next time you see an advert or piece of branded material; chances are, it’s designed to trigger a purchasing decision.


An usherette tray with shoulder straps being carried into a cinema or venue means that buyers don’t have to travel far from their seats to purchase, which highlights the convenience benefits of branded usherette trays. We’re often drawn to snacks that are easy to grab and go and, according to marketing research, this convenience factor can be a powerful trigger for purchase. In one study, for example, participants were more likely to purchase a snack when it was placed within easy reach than when it was out of reach. The same study found that participants were also more likely to purchase a snack when it was the only option available, compared to when there were multiple options. This suggests that we’re more likely to indulge in a snack when it’s convenient and there’s no need to make a decision. Usherette trays full of just one or two types of products can, therefore, simplify purchasing.


Whether we realise it or not, there are a lot of factors influencing our decision to snack while watching films. However, by understanding the psychology behind our snacking habits, we can make more informed choices about what (and how much) we eat while enjoying our favorite films. And who knows? With this new knowledge, maybe you can even turn movie night into a healthy and profitable venture!