Cineworld unlimited

And now for something a little bit different.

I love my Cineworld Unlimited card; not just because it’s convenient, relatively cheap, and frankly a good investment for a cinephile, but also because Cineworld keep upping their game, they do their best to keep me as a customer.

This year in particular Cineworld’s customer retention strategy has hit all the right areas. First, a quick lesson in why retention marketing is important.

Unlimited members now make up 16% of total box office revenues for Cineworld; That’s a guaranteed £14.99 – £17.99 each month from over 280,000 members for a minimum of 12 months. Cineworld’s challenge here is keeping us on after those 12 months, and getting us to purchase high-margin items such as popcorn; make it worth our while.

Recent studies have suggested that up to 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers, and attracting a new customer can cost five to ten times as much as keeping an existing one. So companies need to pay as much attention to retention as they do to acquisition.

Over the last 12 months Cineworld has been building up their retention strategy for non-unlimited members and unlimited members. How have they done this? Let’s have a look.

Grow customers data and engage in regular communication

This year (16th March to be exact), Cineworld launched myCineworld; allowing those who sign up access to deals and offers as well as an easier online process to book your tickets. myCineworld currently offers:

MyCineworld does four things: it captures user data – important for future CRM opportunities. It makes Cineworld more likely to be the first point of call to book cinema tickets. Improves customer satisfaction by shortening queues when purchasing tickets in the foyer (in theory). Finally it gives Cineworld a more personalised dialogue with it’s customers through email.

Loyalty and customer appreciation

Cineworld have offered unlimited members deals and incentives in the form of local discounts (usually a local restaurant), and up to 50% off a subscription to Empire magazine.

Earlier this year they added a new offer: 10% off food and drink and a new perk in the form of Unlimited preview screenings. Together these give the Impression that Cineworld regard unlimited members as true VIPs; they gave us something to brag about. Loyalty programs and customer appreciation programs aren’t new, but this is the first time (that I know of) we’ve had these program’s from a cinema chain.

Unlimited Premium – Cineworld’s Retention marketing strategy for Unlimited members.

I’ve (surprisingly) seen a few comments chastising Cineworld for introducing Unlimited Premium; but to me it makes great marketing sense. Unlimited members are upgraded to premium after the first 12 months of membership, there’s no additional charges for members; just additional benefits.

For Cineworld, It gives them leverage to retain customers after the initial 12 months and with an increased discount (25%) on food and drink: it encourages customers to purchase high margin items. Whilst offering free 3D screenings reduces costs for members and again gives premium members something to boast about and normal unlimited members something to aspire to.

Getting the last mile right

As mentioned previously, Cineworld are pushing more and more customers towards online bookings. Now for this to work Cineworld realised that they needed to get that last mile (booking online) just right; so they redesigned their website and optimised the booking process. On top of this customers get 10% off ticket prices, and they continue to keep unlimited customers happy by allowing members to pre-book tickets online. The result? An experience that keeps customers coming back.

Hopefully the above provides some good insight into how Cineworld are maximising retention marketing. But of course the proof is in the pudding; According to their August interim results (take a look at them, I particularly like their customer life cycle): the rate of advance booking doubled year on year, with a 48% growth in MyCineworld members; and a 7% increase in unlimited subscribers between February and August. That’s not bad in my books, and I daresay with the more recent changes we can expect to see these numbers increase even more.

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