Does targeting your best customers mean alienating others?


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I hadn’t been to a movie in a theater in some time — In recent months I’ve stuck mostly to my beloved Netflix and Tivo — but over the New Year’s weekend, I decided to check out a new release at my local multi-plex.

When I arrived at the ticket booth, I was surprised to find that the entire theater had been revamped and restructured to offer a “dine-in” experience. Food and drink, from nachos and burgers to salmon and pasta, complete with waitress service and beer, was available for two-and-a-half times the cost of a traditional movie ticket.

What I found most surprising about the new program was that it was not an option. It was a requirement. No longer could I buy a single movie ticket there to see a film with just a box of popcorn or Junior Mints by my side. Instead, I was required to purchase the movie/food combination, whether or not I had any interest in a meal.

From the standpoint of loyalty marketing, there are several issues at play here: While the dine-in program is certainly appealing to certain segments (couples on dates, families looking for a meal/movie in one), and while today’s movie theaters must work hard to compete with people’s couches and Netflix accounts, it also appears that the dine-in requirement could alienate whole swaths of other movie-going customers (those who aren’t hungry; those who don’t like the menu; those who don’t want roaming waitresses standing in front of the movie screen during important scenes). For those potential customers, it seems the only choice is to head to another movie theater entirely.

Certainly, any loyalty program worth its salt is making sure to target its best customers with offers and experiences that make them feel special and keep them coming back — but not, typically, leaving non-priority customers completely in the dust. The loyalty efforts are meant to encourage strong value-added options to priority segments, while still keeping other potential customers in the mix.

It’s possible that my local movie theater has it right — after all, a movie theater owned by the same company is only about 10-15 minutes down the road, so all potential moviegoers have the choice to go there instead. But I wonder whether its new, complete focus on one customer segment — those interested in eating a complete meal while watching a film — is being implemented at the expense of other moviegoers, as opposed to offering a value-added option.

At COLLOQUY, we have covered the loyalty efforts of movie theater chains such as Canada’s Cineplex — their SCENE loyalty program offers entertainment rewards through accumulated points, including free movie tickets, popcorn, DVDs, downloads and special, one-of-a-kind experiences. This model offers value-added options for customers, but no requirement that moviegoers participate in the program — thereby learning more about and offering more to potentially loyal, regular customers that return again and again, but not alienating other customers who choose to partake in their product or service.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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