Loyalty Programs that Pack Theaters

published on 08 October 2023


Customer loyalty programs have become increasingly popular among businesses in recent years as a powerful tool to retain existing customers and increase repeat business. For movie theaters, implementing a cinema loyalty program can boost attendance and concession sales by rewarding frequent moviegoers. As streaming services give consumers more at-home viewing options, theaters have seen declining ticket sales and need fresh strategies to get people off the couch and into the theaters.

Well-designed loyalty programs tap into human psychology - people love accruing points, unlocking tiers, and earning rewards. By making moviegoers feel special and providing benefits tailored to their interests, theaters can drive lasting engagement. According to a National Research Study, members of loyalty programs are more likely to continue purchasing from a retailer than non-members.

With the rise of subscription services like MoviePass, the movie industry has become increasingly competitive. Now is the perfect time for theaters to focus on building direct relationships with moviegoers and brand loyalty. Partnering with a company like Filmgrail that provides turnkey loyalty program creation, management, and analytics can help streamline implementation.

Types of Cinema Loyalty Programs

There are a few core loyalty program structures that work well for movie theaters:

Points-Based Programs

  • Customers earn points for ticket and concession purchases that can be redeemed for rewards.
  • A flexible and easy to understand format that inherently rewards frequent moviegoers.
  • Points accrued can be redeemed for free tickets, concessions, discounts, and more. For example, earn 200 points for a free small popcorn.
  • Point systems are easily integrated with theater mobile apps, online platforms, and POS systems.

Tiered Programs

  • Members move up to higher tiers to access upgraded benefits and perks.
  • Higher tiers (Gold, Platinum) unlock preferred seating, discounts, free upgrades, VIP access, etc.
  • Multi-tiered structure encourages customer loyalty and increased visits to reach the next level. AMC Stubs has a popular tiered program.
  • Complex to administer different benefit levels across tiers.
  • Provide elite status tiers to tap into customers' desires for recognition.
  • Participants pay a monthly or annual membership fee to enroll in the program.
  • In return for the fee, members get discounts on tickets, concessions, and other perks.
  • Can incorporate reserved tickets for members-only early screenings and special events.
  • Provides predictable revenue stream in addition to driving visits and spending.
  • May limit program accessibility for some customers depending on fee level.

Gamification Programs

  • Members complete fun challenges and activities to unlock rewards and status.
  • Challenges encourage behaviors like visiting on certain days or seeing certain genres.
  • Adds an entertaining, game-like element to increase engagement through achievements.
  • Allows theaters to incentivize desired customer behaviors directly.
  • Unlocking new tiers and accomplishments taps into people's innate satisfaction in gaining status.

Hybrid Approach

Given the strengths and weaknesses of each program type, many loyalty programs use a hybrid structure combining points, tiers, paid upgrades, and gamification. This allows the flexibility to incentivize a range of customer behaviors from new member acquisition to retention of high-value patrons.

Designing an Effective Loyalty Program

Beyond choosing a program structure, several components go into designing a successful loyalty initiative:

Identifying Target Behaviors

  • Encourage frequent attendance by rewarding repeat visits within a timeframe.
  • Attract new customers by offering high-value initial rewards.
  • Increase concession purchases through food and drink rewards.
  • Drive traffic during slow days with special tier-jumping challenges or promotions.
  • Analytics can help identify optimal behavioral targets.

Crafting Rewards

  • Free ticket upgrades, concession items, and exclusive experiences like celebrity Q&As.
  • Discounts on tickets, food, drinks, and gift cards. Earn a $5 gift card for every 5 visits!
  • Early access to blockbuster films and VIP members-only screenings.
  • Points-for-prizes redemption catalog with curated merch and experiences.
  • Donations to charities made on members' behalf at higher tiers.

Easy Enrollment and Tracking

  • In-app and web portal signup, integration with POS system.
  • SMS and email signup alternatives for access simplicity.
  • Automatic points accrual and status dashboards.
  • Real-time progress bars and projected timelines to next tier.
  • Fully integrated multi-channel loyalty platforms.

Communicating and Promoting the Program

  • Promote during online/in-person ticket purchases via banners and confirmation messaging.
  • Email campaigns spotlighting program benefits and member stories.
  • Social media contests and influencer partnerships to drive awareness.
  • Push notifications highlighting new status, rewards, and accomplishments.

Analytics and Optimization

Like any business initiative, loyalty programs require diligent tracking of key metrics and optimization based on insights uncovered in the data.

Key Loyalty Program Metrics

  • Member signup and retention rates. Aim for over 50% retention at 6 months.
  • Reward redemption rates. Target at least 30% redemption.
  • Customer activity and revenue pre/post signup. Look for increases.
  • Program ROI and impact on overall revenue growth.
  • Engagement trends analyzed across customer segments.

Using Data to Optimize

  • Identify most and least popular reward options.
  • Determine high-value activities to further incentivize.
  • Adjust program benefits and requirements based on overall trends.
  • Target underperforming segments with tailored initiatives.
  • Refine marketing messaging and channels to boost promotion.

Final Thoughts

Implementing a well-designed loyalty program can help create lasting relationships between movie theaters and their customers. Points, tiered, paid, and gamified programs each have unique advantages that can be combined for maximum appeal. However, success ultimately depends on thoroughly understanding target customers and behaviors to reward. Ongoing promotion, seamless tracking of activity, and data-driven refinement is critical to maximize engagement long-term. By partnering with an experienced solutions provider, theaters can hit the ground running with loyalty initiatives that pack seats and drive revenue.

To learn more about increasing customer loyalty and driving growth for your cinema, <a href="https://filmgrail.com" target="_blank">check out Filmgrail's cinema-optimized loyalty platform.</a>

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