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Know your audience

For a long time, after watching a hopeless film, one wanted to put one’s two pennies’ worth on the back of the ticket and submit it at the box office. Unfortunately, there has not been a culture of feedback forms in theatres. Once you have bought the ticket, for the exhibitor, it is one more like. You have to rely on word of mouth to express your true opinion.

However, with entertainment options multiplying, exhibitors are not limiting themselves to screening films. They are keen to know their customers and individual preferences.

Moving in this direction, PVR Cinemas, India’s largest cinema chain recently introduced the country’s first fully digital loyalty programme for its 131 outlets. It was launched by actor Aamir Khan, the first one to receive, with much fanfare recently.“I will be a loyal viewer but you’ll have to take my feedback seriously,” quipped Aamir while receiving the card.

The loyalty programme can be signed up at cinema or PVR website or downloaded on the mobile. Priced at ₹300 with vouchers for the same amount thrown in, it works out to be free. “The card sits on the mobile and everytime a ticket is bought it will be scanned and points allotted. Thus the mobile becomes the membership card and those with feature phones, their mobile number becomes the membership number to be shared for tagging the points,” explained Kamal Gianchandani, Chief of Strategy, PVR Limited, with Aamir listening intently.

Briefing about the card Sanjeev Bijli, PVR’s Joint Managing Director observed, “Having been in the business for 20 years, we wanted to reward our loyal customers and through viewership data gathered help us to understand customers better to hopefully personalise our communication and service to them.” Adding on, Kamal, said, “Moreover, we have received feedback that regular patrons want to be given preferential treatment. This card does that.”


Multiple incentives

What sort of incentives can a cinema-goer expect? “Five per cent cash back as points is credited instantly on booking and once 50 points are accumulated an e-voucher for ₹50 automatically sent to be redeemed for buying tickets or F&B,” clarified Kamal. Going further he stated, “There will be bonus points for birthday, anniversary, combo upgrades.”

Reserving the best for the last, he revealed, “Other incentives can’t be equated with money.” Like what? “Watching a film a day before its release or participating in a contest to get a chance to watch the film with cast and crew.”

Generally tracking individual consumption pattern provides better insight into one’s behaviour. “Yes. Using predictive intelligence to analyse the gathered data will help in providing customised and personalised services. Like a Salman Khan fan can be informed before hand and ticket booked in advance. Likewise, knowing what show or day one prefers we can make precise communication, making cinema viewing a hassle-free and seamless experience,” Sanjeev said.

With media reports about leakage and stealing of such personal data Kamal assured that “it will be completely confidential”. “In long run this information bank will help in knowing trends too, like predicting how much business can be expected from an English movie in horror genre. Or what kind of film trailer attracts what segment of audience. All this we can share with filmmakers.”

Will it benefit small budget filmmakers too? “Our ability to communicate to the target audience through sms or mails or mobile alerts about such movies will definitely help publicising the film with comparatively less marketing budgets.”


Large data

All this requires a large data over a period of time. “This year alone we are predicting 80 million viewers in PVRs, so I think over two years that should not be a problem,” averred Sanjeev.

Will the cost of setting up an IT team and contracting agencies for analytics be passed on to the consumers? “Never. It will not intrude upon the primary aim of bringing audience to the theatre for watching movies,” he said with a smile.