Marcus Theatres is a staple in the North American cinemascape - which doesn’t come as a surprise given the company’s focus on excellence and “Making ordinary days extraordinary” mantra. Since coming onto the scene in 1935, it has dominated a number of US states and now proudly owns and manages 887 screens at 68 locations across the country. A recent acquisition of Wehrenberg Theatres added 14 theatres to their circuit, and aligning the two companies’ loyalty programs has been a steady and exciting challenge for the Marcus loyalty marketing team for the past few months.
We spoke with Marcus Theatres’ Loyalty Manager, Steve Mathwig, to find out how Movio has helped them reach their goals in loyalty marketing, how they plan to achieve synergy and success across their newly extended loyalty platform, and what’s next for Marcus.
You've recently acquired Wehrenberg Theatres - what did that mean for Marcus loyalty?
Steve Mathwig: Through the Wehrenberg Theatre acquisition we picked up a new and growing population of avid moviegoers, which was incredibly exciting for us. We wanted to welcome those guests into the Marcus family, which included understanding what they liked and didn’t like in their previous loyalty program. The feedback we received was that it was hard for members to keep track of where they were in the reward cycle, and were struggling to remain engaged in the program. The Wehrenberg MVP program also had a very different point accrual and reward schedule from the Marcus Magical Movie Rewards (MMR) program, and ran on a completely different POS system - so there were a number of learning curves for us in getting this right. Our plan was to convert those Wehrenberg MVP members to the MMR program, where rewards are much simpler to understand and achieve, and there are a whole range of member promotions that they weren’t offered in their previous loyalty program.
Can you discuss your plans to merge the two loyalty programs?
SM: We’ve already accomplished the first steps, which included replicating the MMR program point earning and reward proposition in Vista's Loyalty, and we’re now converting Wehrenberg loyalty members (MVP cardholders) to that program. To do this, we created a seamless in-theatre process in which members can basically switch cards - taking all of their loyalty data over to their new account. The beauty of this process is that we are able to retain the member transactional data history of these MVP card holders, which is helping with targeted communications that we’re sending via Movio Cinema.
It’s important for us to start the newly converted MVP-to-MMR member experience in the right way, and really set the tone of their relationship with us going forward. To do this, we’re providing member-only promotions and offers - something that MVP card holders have not received previously. We believe that by promoting the benefits of the new program and providing relevant communications, we can increase member engagement and generate incremental visits and revenue for Marcus Theatres.
You have been with Movio for a few years, how has Movio worked with you to help you strategically? Can you give us any examples?
SM: We’ve been able to take advantage of Movio Cinema’s powerful segmentation tools to produce highly targeted campaigns for our members - although we haven’t yet leveraged all of the new bells and whistles of the platform. That’s an ongoing process. We often use it to support our lifecycle campaigns and member messaging, through welcome emails, movie recommendations and encouraging lapsed members to return to us. The platform helps us talk to the right members with a relevant message at the right time. Movio Cinema adds extra value in that it acts as a loyalty database for reporting and analysis, too. In addition, Movio Media has also helped us engage specific members for certain films and mimics the ‘Marcus Voice’ through campaign creation which has led to excellent response rates and results for the studios and Marcus Theatres.
We’ve also had the privilege of working with the Movio Experts. They have been great resources when it comes to developing strategies and achieving goals, and together we’ve served up some brilliant ideas. They always listen to our business needs and feed our responses back to Movio Cinema’s development team to enhance the product based on our experiences. Most recently, they have been instrumental in showing us how Movio integrates with Vista's Loyalty system for our Marcus Wehrenberg Theatre locations.
What's next for Marcus Theatres?
SM: We’ll continue to focus on a seamless integration of the Wehrenberg MVP program members into our Magical Movie Rewards program, and providing plenty of benefits and promotions for those new guests. As far as working with Movio goes, we’ll be testing some of their new features and enhancements to help us target more precise audiences and improve ROI of our campaigns. We want to be providing truly unique and relevant content in our member communications to really strengthen those customer relationships. It’s important that we aren’t simply selling movie tickets in these communications, but that we’re always informing and enlightening our members, so that they have the best movie theatre experience possible.
About Steve Mathwig
Steve Mathwig is Loyalty Program Manager at Marcus Theatres, and has been involved in the loyalty marketing industry for the past 30 years. Since Marcus' acquisition of Wehrenberg Theatres, Steve has been instrumental in successfully merging the Wehrenberg Theatres MVP program with the Marcus Theatres Magical Movie Rewards loyalty program. Prior to working in the cinema industry, Steve was Director of Loyalty Marketing at Midwest Airlines.