THE CLARUS Blog

How Cinemark Gives Customers Ownership of its Loyalty Program – Featuring Andrew Sonnichsen [Interview]

Listening to your customers is the best thing a brand can do to understand what they want and design a loyalty program loaded with value.

Ease of use, convenience, and compelling are a few of the key words that describe the Cinemark Movie Rewards loyalty program.

We recently caught up with Andrew Sonnichsen, Vice President of Loyalty Program Management at Cinemark, to learn more about the company’s approach to loyalty.

 

Jim Tierney: Can you talk about how Cinemark caters to its loyal customers and how that is a competitive differentiator for the company?

Andrew Sonnichsen: Cinemark regularly conducts extensive customer research to ensure we are staying in-tune with what our customers are looking for, especially as it relates to our loyalty and rewards offerings. We utilize this research to develop and roll out new initiatives, giving our customers ownership in how Cinemark evolves its offering.

Interview with Andrew Sonnichsen at Cinemark

Our commitment to feedback and the programs that come out of our research are true differentiators for Cinemark in the entertainment exhibition industry.

For example, research showed us our customers were looking for a frictionless path to their rewards, so we used that information to build Cinemark Movie Rewards, one umbrella loyalty program that meets the needs of modern moviegoers.

The two major components of this program were developed with customer feedback top-of-mind, ensuring we can give prospective and loyal customers what they want from an exhibitor.

  • For easy access rewards, there is our free-to-join loyalty rewards program Cinemark Movie Fan. Cinemark Movie Fan members earn one point for every one dollar spent which can be redeemed on free tickets, concession items and collectible movie swag, in addition to exclusive access to specialty screenings and more.
  • Our premium loyalty option, Cinemark Movie Club, starts at $8.99 a month for membership ($9.99 regionally). With this fee, members receive one movie ticket credit per month with unused credits rolling over and never expiring for active members; the ability to share the member benefits with friends and family; special member-only pricing on additional tickets; a 20% discount on all concessions every visit; and the ability to reserve seats online with no added fees.

All the benefits of Movie Fan and Movie Club are exactly what customers told us they wanted. With flexibility in how customers use tickets and a generous discount on concessions, the program is designed to appeal to a broad range of moviegoers, adding value to them and our theatres with every visit.

 

Jim: In May 2019 Cinemark launched Cinemark Movie Rewards, which includes a premium loyalty tier. Can you talk about the thought process behind this launch, how it has been received, and what changes you’ve seen in customer behavior?

Andrew: Cinemark launched Movie Club, our premium loyalty tier, in December 2017 as a direct result of our customer research. Movie Club has more than 850,000 members, averaging more than 2,500 per theatre.

Since its launch, we have seen changes in member behavior, including increased frequency and spend at Cinemark, with members attending three times more frequently than our average moviegoer.

In May, Cinemark launched Cinemark Movie Rewards, which rebranded our free membership to Cinemark Movie Rewards and placed it under the same umbrella as Cinemark Movie Club.

Customers love the dollar-based point system available with both and have been extremely engaged with the program since its launch. The one program with two tiers has spurred excellent growth in loyalty.

 

Jim: Can you talk about what attracted Cinemark to premium loyalty and how these programs differentiate themselves in the marketplace?

Andrew: We wanted to remove all barriers to entry and make it easy and convenient for our guests to go to the movies. We felt our industry was overdue for premium loyalty but wanted to offer something that would be compelling to the occasional moviegoer.

With all the features and benefits, Cinemark Movie Club is a better overall value to consumers that attend the theatre two times or less per month, which is a much larger subset of the population than the ultra-frequent moviegoers that an unlimited program would target.

This program and the benefits selected were built entirely based on consumer research, which showed these moviegoers were much more interested in a program that offered one ticket per month with the rollover feature over an unlimited program.

 

Jim: Trust is a huge component of customer loyalty. How does Cinemark build trust with its customers and create sustainable two-way relationships?

Andrew: At Cinemark, we feel strongly that building trust with our customers starts with listening to their feedback, suggestions and requests, and using that input to develop our programs. Extensive customer research led us to introduce the first exhibitor-based monthly paid membership program, Movie Club, and we set up the benefits to be extremely customer-friendly.

For example, when a customer earns ticket credits in our program, tickets never expire for active members and credits can be used to bring family and friends with them to the theatre. It is this type of program flexibility that has led to an unbelievably high customer satisfaction level, over 90 percent, for Movie Club.

We took the same approach when we revitalized the benefits of our free loyalty program this spring, and it has certainly paid off. Customers today build trust with brands through simple and honest interactions both in our communication and in our theatres.

When Cinemark Movie Rewards launched, we purposefully made the program very straightforward and transparent to understand and use. For example, members earn one point for each $1 spent with Cinemark – what could be simpler than that?  Ultimately, that level of transparency builds trusts in our member base and creates lasting loyalty.

 

Jim: How does Cinemark leverage social media and what impact does it have on customer engagement?

Andrew: We have very active social media channels that play a large part in ensuring we are reaching our customers in their preferred format and giving them the information they want to know across all digital channels.

In addition to being an excellent marketing tool for our customers, we actively monitor feedback on social media to ensure that we are actively listening to our customers.

 

Jim: Emotional connections are so important today in creating loyalty. Can you talk about Cinemark’s approach to this?

Andrew: Going beyond a transactional relationship with members and making an emotional connection is a key component of creating loyalty. At Cinemark, we have a natural advantage that we can leverage – people love movies!

Our members love movies, and we are in a unique position to provide them access to exclusive elements of the movie industry that would otherwise be beyond their reach, from advance screenings to redeeming their loyalty points for unique memorabilia of a favorite movie.

The beauty of Cinemark Movie Rewards is that it enables movie fans to deepen their connection to something they already love.

The savings that our members receive through the Movie Club program allow our members to see more movies, more often, further enhancing their love of movie-going and deepening the emotional connection to Cinemark.

 

Jim: What do you see as the biggest challenges in retail connected to customer engagement/customer loyalty?

Andrew: As a movie exhibitor in the entertainment industry, we recognize there are so many competing forms of entertainment, we must constantly evolve our movie going experience to meet our customers’ ever-changing needs and wants. At Cinemark, our focus is on being a leader in delivering a fantastic guest experience with each visit.

To keep guests interested in coming back, we are regularly enhancing our offering, including our in-theatre amenities and our loyalty offering. If we can make sure all aspects of a visit to Cinemark are enjoyable, moviegoers will continue to choose to see movies at Cinemark.

It is up to us to create memorable moments and unique experiences to maintain and build our customer engagement.

Cinemark Movie Club Member Benefits

 

Catering to Customers

The fact that Cinemark regularly conducts extensive customer research is crucial to identifying pain points and addressing them. Company officials use the research to roll out new initiatives.

With its Cinemark Movie Club premium loyalty program, company officials wanted to remove all barriers to entry and simplify everything for their guests.

Since Cinemark launched Movie Club in December 2017, the program has more than 850,000 members, averaging more than 2,500 per theatre. Since the program launched, officials have seen increased frequency and spend at Cinemark, with members attending three times more frequently than average moviegoers.

Cinemark officials don’t rest on their laurels as they regularly enhance their loyalty offering. They do this because they realize it’s up to them to create memorable moments that spark long-term loyalty and advocacy.

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