Putting asse(t)s back in the seats

Jul 12, 2022

2019 was a stellar year for the box office. Moviegoer activity was at an all time high after the release of blockbusters like Frozen 2 and Star Wars Episode 9. But in March of 2020, “everything kind of shut down,” said Carrie Trotter, VP of Theatre Marketing & Loyalty for AMC Theaters, at the recent Customer Relationship Management (CRMC) Conference. Alongside Kobie’s Chief Customer Officer, Wendy Culpepper, the team recounted unprecedented challenges that hit every industry, in addition to the unique circumstances entertainment brands faced. From reduced movie releases to the inability to move products online like other retailers, the brand had to lean into loyalty more than ever to rebound stronger than before. With 45% of all attendance coming from the AMC’s loyalty base across a three-tiered program, it was crucial to reactivate all consumers and especially those loyalty members, post-COVID.

“It started first and foremost with how do we make everyone comfortable coming back into theaters – what are we going to do about their safety concerns?” said Culpepper. “What happens when the movies are not delayed, they’ve just absolutely stopped production? It’s a completely different ballgame,” she added. The answers to these questions and more were complex, but could be summed up in a word – data.

Diving into the loyalty database, coupled with competitive and consumer feedback, provided the fuel to what became a highly successful recovery strategy. By seizing a unique opportunity when theaters closed to analyze data and engage in social listening, they were able to address consumer concerns, tap into their emotional connection with the brand and moviegoing experience, and see a huge spike in satisfaction scores to 90% despite a global pandemic.


“We talk about data in three ways,” Culpepper explained. “Transactional data – the backbone of every loyalty program here. We’re all talking about it — What are the metrics? What is the customer lifetime value? But I think most of us have learned, and [this] program is a perfect example, behavioral data matters, too. Behavioral data is where you start to figure out – is your VIP your VIP? Is it the customer who spends the most transactionally with you, or is it the A-Lister who comes in three times a week to see movies and then on the side advocates and shares every movie? Yeah, that might actually be your VIP. But really to activate them you need a third component of data. It’s emotional data. We all talk about it as an output here, all the time, that we want to create emotional connections, but to create an emotional connection is no different than the relationships we’re in. You have to know what motivates somebody.”

The presentation dove deep into specific strategies, from sentiment trackers and dashboards to rebranding efforts, that used data to drive results with the brand’s most valuable assets – their moviegoers.

“We wanted to hear from our guests firsthand,” explained Trotter. “All the things they missed about coming to the theater; the smell of the popcorn when the doors open, the dimming of the lights, the crying with 100 of your closest strangers in the same room.” The sentiments expressed by Trotter resonated with audience members who could all relate on a personal level, and reiterated the value of emotional connections. In case you missed it, Trotter and Culpepper will be sharing more in upcoming webinars and conferences this year – so grab your popcorn and stay in your seats.

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