First published on PassionforCinema
The benefits of these programs work both ways. Customers are rewarded for their loyalty to that shop with points, free stuff, advance notice of special or new products. Individual product manufacturers can promote their offerings by sponsoring extra points for that purchase. The shops learn a huge amount about their customers and their preferences, and over time, can segment them and target marketing appropriately. This is also great for consumers as it can reduce the marketing you face for things you don’t want.
This would be awesome for Indian cinema chains. Some of the benefits could be:
- Get free tickets after a certain number of purchases.
- Get free/discounted food and drinks after a certain number of purchases.
- Production companies can give gifts for either seeing the same film a number of times, or seeing multiple films from the same production house. Gifts could be free soundtracks, t shirts, DVD discount coupons, tickets to future previews.
- Production companies can offer bonus points for seeing the film on the opening weekend, or, in the case of weaker films, just for seeing the film at all.
- A production company looking to extend the run of a film could directly market to people who have already seen it, offering special bonuses for seeing the film a second time.
- The cinema chain can keep you up to date on the schedules for the types of films that you would usually watch.
- The cinema can encourage you to give feedback (that you normally wouldn’t bother giving) in exchange for extra points.
- Remembering your favorite seating areas within the cinema and tries to automatically allocate seats there.
These programs already exist in a more limited form overseas and some chains are experimenting with expanding the benefits.
As one of the most advanced examples, in Canada, ScotiaBank has tied up with a number of multiplex chains to offer the ‘Scene” reward program. As a member you get points every time you buy tickets for yourself or your family. You get discounts on food and drinks, and you get bonus points for buying your tickets online. Going further, the bank has also created a debit and credit card that are aimed at movie lovers. Just for opening one of these accounts you get enough points for 2 movie tickets. You also earn points by using these cards to buy anything, anywhere, with 5X bonus points for money spend at the cinema on tickets, food, or in their shops.
Lots of other multiplex chains (including some in India) have much simpler offerings – get tenth ticket free, get free popcorn after 5 films etc etc.
There are 2 main differences between these simple programs and what I am envisioning. Currently, the relationship is only between the cinema and the customer, there is no involvement from the production companies and distributors. Secondly, there is no sophistication in how the data is used in terms of understanding how one customer’s usage differs from another’s, and then being able to communicate with that customer on a personal level.
Until now, I have been discussing programs provided by the cinema itself, however there is another option, which is also gaining popularity – social networking applications.
Location-based social networking applications on phones, such as Facebook places, FourSquare etc, record when you are physically in a particular location. In India this is mostly being used for fun (if you visit a certain place often enough you can get the title of Mayor of that location) however overseas many businesses are using these for marketing programs, by rewarding more frequent visits. For instance, this can be used to record when you are inside a multiplex.
On the other hand, content-based social networking applications are used to track the content you are consume. Apps such as Getglue, Miso and Philo, let you ‘check in’ to different films, TV, books etc according to what you are watching/reading. By following other people with similar tastes to yourself, you get lots of suggestions about new content that you might like. Users get rewarded with stickers and badges to show the things that they are a fan of.
If location-based and entertainment-based social networking could be combined so that you can register what you are seeing, and where in a simple, shareable manner, then this could also be an awesome base for a cinema rewards system. At the rate of mobile phone connections in India, and the fact that smart phones are becoming much cheaper, this might well be the way to go!