In-Theater Marketing - What They're Not Teaching: Brand Loyalty
by Alex Billington
April 25, 2007
I came across an interesting article from the Movie Marketing Madness blog that covers the industry's marketing tactics with fine detail. They were mentioning an invitation they had received for AdAge, a big marketing magazine, about in-theater marketing sessions being held in New York and Los Angeles. Writer Chris Thilk mentions a few points that should be taught at these sessions, but will most likely not be taught. And he nails one of them right on the head with exactly what we've been preaching since the start here at First Showing.
Of all the major corporations in this world, the movie theater industry is one of the most brutal and relentless. They're entirely and endlessly about making money, at whatever cost and damage to consumers, and somehow it works (even with bad consumer experiences). I'm not going to argue their entire system, but Chris makes a fantastic point about in-theater marketing:
Theaters do almost no marketing of themselves and yet they're shocked they're becoming irrelevant. Note to theater owners: There's very little brand loyalty your multiplexes enjoy. People are there because you're the closest/cheapest house playing the film they want to see. Either make yourselves into a more pleasant experience or prepare to file for bankruptcy.
FINALLY someone realizes! But unfortunately it's just another smart individual like myself and not an actual executive working for a movie theater company.
We've been applying that idea of brand loyalty to a local Cinemark here, although if you're not in Colorado you don't feel the effects. It's the reason why I keep coming back to it (and have been since it opened nearly 10 years ago). And fortunately the general manager is smart enough to realize the same - brand loyalty is important to him. If we can help build that experience and they can get people to continue to return because they love the experience they get, then that's worth more than its weight in gold.
Just think about it yourself. Maybe you don't even consciously think about why you go to a certain theater. Most people will say it's the closest or cheapest, which is the general reasoning, but there are plenty other locations you could choose. And if you really wanted to, you'd go to the theater with stadium seating that was comfortable and had a good reputation in your mind with great projection and audio. Wouldn't you?
What's interesting is that almost every other industry in the US focuses very highly on public relations, consumer feedback, and brand loyalty. Why are Coca Cola and Microsoft the most powerful brands in the world? Because for a while (disregarding Windows Vista) they've maintained such a reputable brand name that the loyalty they've earned with millions of customers has strengthened their business. Why the movie theaters and that industry doesn't get this (and even the studios in Hollywood), I don't know. Why they don't start implementing tactics and in-theater marketing methods to improve the experience and strengthen brand loyalty, I don't know. Maybe they're just too stubborn to look towards the future.