Discouraging news for Hollywood studios and exhibition chains today from Nielsen’s 2014 Moviegoing Report, an annual study based on a September survey of 4,100 people in the U.S. Nielsen Moviegoing 2014Although the percentage of the population that visited a theater at least once held steady at 77% this year, those who attended saw an average of 7.3 films — down from 7.7 in 2013. The main problem: Young audiences, those between 12 and 24 years old, averaged 7.1 movies. That’s down 15.5% from last year, when they averaged 8.4 films. It also meant that the younger fans saw fewer films than 25-to-44 year olds, who saw 8.1, a 5.2% increase, according to the selected data Nielsen released from the report.

The audience measurement company says that movie marketers who want to reverse the trend among the young group — which Nielsen refers to as “Digitals” — must tap social media and create social experiences. “Social is especially important because, for Digitals, seeing a movie is a means to a ‘social’ end,” says SVP Client Solutions Kathy Benjamin. “They may not know what kind of movies they want from Hollywood, but there’s one thing they definitely don’t want: to be left out of the conversation.”

Nielsen says that 87% of Digitals stream movies or TV shows, and two-thirds discuss movies on social networks. They form opinions by watching trailers and, after that, reading social media posts from friends and family. But nearly 30% are “spontaneous moviegoers” who don’t decide what to watch until they arrive at theaters — and 80% of this group check their phones for information once they’re there.