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Industry View: Ken Thewes on the evolution of cinema loyalty

Regal Entertainment Group has the largest theatre circuit in the United States consisting of 7,348 screens in 571 theatres in 42 states. Their loyalty program 'Regal Crown Club' was launched in 2001 and now has 14 million active members and growing (+47% in 2014).

Regal began using Movio Cinema in March 2013. Their Chief Marketing Officer, Ken Thewes, joined the company in 2012 and has leveraged the loyalty program to become the largest in the US.

What are the challenges facing cinema loyalty programs today?

There is an overall lack of differentiation among exhibitors today. That’s a key problem for any individual loyalty program to address, differentiate the brand in a relevant way to get consumers to both:

  1. Visit more often
  2. Choose your brand over others

There is a clear cost associated with loyalty programs and it’s incumbent upon the marketing teams to demonstrate the return on investment.  When we can show that, it’s easy for the organization to get behind and support further efforts around loyalty.

Regal Crown Club

How have you evolved the Regal program with technology changes?

It’s critical that both mobile and social have a role in loyalty.

Currently the majority of our customers are interacting with our brand from a mobile device. Historically, our focus has been to address the desktop experience, and we’ve shifted to make sure mobile experience is the first priority.

From a social perspective, we are working on integrating social activity with our brand into our loyalty rewards.  Our members won’t have to engage with us socially, but if they do, they will receive more rewards and offers.

Beyond that, there are numerous technological opportunities to enhance the overall in-theatre experience for our members.  These are a bit more complex and require more Operations involvement, but will be addressed in the future as well.

You recently attended the Vista Conference in Auckland, What were your key takeaways that you’ve been able to action?

It was really encouraging to see all the capabilities that both Vista and Movio have.  Clearly we have lots of opportunity at Regal to continue to leverage both—not just across loyalty, per se, but in all areas of our customers’ experience.

A couple of key areas that we’ll be incorporating are:

  • Building out our SMS capability as both an alternative and an enhancement to email
  • Adding more segments to our loyalty data to capture more information about our customers that we can use to make their experience even better

How has Movio impacted how you run your loyalty program?

Our partnership with Movio has provided us with a couple of benefits:

  • Right out of the gate, Movio gave us a lower cost email engine (vs. our previous provider) with a lot more flexibility to create various email templates to promote the movies, content and offers we needed
  • As we completed our Vista point-of-sales system conversion, Movio has helped us supercharge our targeting efforts; since it works seamlessly with the Vista system to segment our member data, and allows us to target our customers in relevant ways
  • Our email open rates and click through rates have increased dramatically with targeted email metrics being more than double non-targeted

Our next phase of leveraging Movio is to do even more granular targeting and initial results are encouraging as we’re seeing ever increasing open and click through rates, leading to increased visits from our members.

Ken Thewes - Chief Marketing Officer - Regal Entertainment Group

ken_thewes_movio

Ken currently heads up all marketing efforts for Regal Entertainment Group, which includes leveraging the company's loyalty program, the largest in the industry, to help drive revenue and profitability.  In addition, he leads the teams responsible for advertising, digital and social media, film marketing and promotions, public relations, consumer insights and local marketing.

Prior to joining Regal Entertainment Group as its CMO in 2012, his experience spanned a broad range of industries and billion-dollar brands including: Tide, Red Lobster, and Chili's -- and has enabled him to quickly cut through the clutter and focus on what matters to consumers most. You can follow Ken on Twitter at @KenThewes.

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