Q&A: Cineworld on “experiencing the joy of cinema”

Casey Cohen, head of marketing at Cineworld, chats to Essential Retail about the difference between customer experience and marketing and what the cinema chain is doing to create unique experiences for customers.

How has your customer changed in recent years?

I think there is an appetite for experience rather than just a movie. Customers want something different and they want an event. They want choice and that’s what we try and do through our Unlimited Card offering, the extensive refurbishment programme, and the investment in IMAX screens and 4DX technology which is only available in Cineworld in the UK.

‘More’ is the key word here – we want to give customers more of the cinema experience.

Cinema prices are rising, Netflix subscriptions are increasing – how are you using technology to encourage customers to visit the big screen?

At Cineworld we give customers the choice of how they want to experience a movie. We provide the latest in cutting edge technology, with 21 IMAX screens and 19 cinema sites offering 4DX multisensory technology.

It’s about how can we make the experience better and more enjoyable and how can we offer more? We’ve got a great app which has recently been updated, which means it is convenient for a customer to book movies, log in with Facebook, avoid queues, save tickets in the app, add movies to their calendar, watch trailers and more. Making that overall experience more seamless.

How are you using technology to create experiential theatre for your customers?

We’re not afraid of technology and change, we’re a company that really embraces innovation and we’re excited by augmented reality (AR) and we use it as a way of bringing movies to life in cinema foyers. We have giant AR units in six of our cinemas, which showcases the world of movies through the lens of an Unlimited Card. It’s purely in advertising tool, but when you look through this unit, you can see dinosaurs and spaceships interacting with the cinema environment – it’s bringing the cinema offering to life.

Where does CX differ from marketing?

When it comes to customer experience versus marketing, I believe our customer experience markets itself. We’re in the business of building tangible experiences for customers. The ‘wow’ factor of entering the foyer of the newly refurbished cinemas like Leicester Square, entering a cinema like that and taking in the atmosphere is very different from watching a movie on your phone. And we’re trying to do the same with our marketing.

Tell us a little more about the Unlimited Card?

The Unlimited Card is 10 years old and is the largest cinema membership programme in the UK. We’re putting effort into improving the experience and membership programme by bringing customers better benefits and perks. We recently announced a deal with the Casual Dining Group to give Unlimited Card customers 25% off food and drink.

About what about the Unlimited Movie Tour?

The Unlimited Movie Tour is a PR campaign to promote the Unlimited Card and provide a flavour of the cinema experience. We’re taking people into a world of movies in an environment that resembles the inside of a cinema. Our members love the experience of cinema: the popcorn, the escape. We’re not just about the experience, but the feeling you get from going to the cinema. It’s about experiencing the joy of cinema.

Next week, Cineworld is offering customers the chance to hop aboard a double-decker tour bus, for a journey around London's notable film locations to celebrate its Unlimited Card. The inside of the bus will be kitted out to feel like a cinema with comfy seats and a pick 'n' mix station.