John-Paul Pierrot • Marketing manager, Picturehouse Cinemas
“Big data has allowed us to get a well-rounded view of our customers”
by Birgit Heidsiek
- We sat down with John-Paul Pierrot, marketing manager at Picturehouse Cinemas, to discuss the advantages that big data can offer his company
Big data was a hot topic at the Europa Cinemas Innovation Day Lab at the German Arthouse Fair in Leipzig, which took place from 25-29 September. In Britain, Picturehouse Cinemas uses the Movio customer management system in order to get a better idea of its audience’s habits and tastes. Formed in 1989, Picturehouse Cinemas owns and operates 23 cinemas, which are located in city centres and are architecturally unique venues that provide café-bars, restaurants and live events alongside the traditional film-going experience. We chatted to marketing manager John-Paul Pierrot about the advantages that big data can offer Picturehouse.
Cineuropa: What are the benefits of big data for cinemas?
John-Paul Pierrot: Over the years, we have been able to capture big data so that we can better understand our audience's cinema-going practices. Big data has allowed us to get a well-rounded view of our customers, which has informed our marketing campaigns, programming and ability to reward our most active customers.
Which kinds of specific data are particularly interesting?
Through setting up a membership offer, we are able to analyse the viewing and purchasing habits of our most loyal customers. Specialised programming strands and free-to-join clubs (for example, our Silver Screen club for over-60s) mean we have been able to capture more and more data for non-members, too. We are able to analyse admissions, purchases and trends, whether it's a genre preference for a sub-group of our customers or the day of the week with the most visits. We are also able to track an email subscriber's online activity so that we can create targeted and persuasive email campaigns.
What are Picturehouse Cinemas’ experiences when it comes to collecting and analysing the data?
Big data gives us an all-encompassing view of our audiences, but we are also able to drill down and create segmented groups, so we can create compelling marketing campaigns specifically for them. In 2015, we switched to the CRM platform Movio, and the tool has allowed us to create bespoke communications for different audience groups. For example, we know that the members of our Silver Screen club have different viewing and purchasing patterns to our student audience – so we should talk to them about different films and products, and in a way that suits them.
What kind of impact has this information had in terms of programming and theatre management?
Data has had a big impact on programming at our cinemas. Analytics provide us with hard evidence of how well a film has performed at each of our cinemas, and we have conducted research into the best days of the week and best time of the day to show particular content. Data allows us to understand not only what films to show, but also when screenings should be, so that they have the best opportunity to be successful.
Can you target the audience in a more specific way?
From an email marketing point of view, our aim is to send more email campaigns with fewer emails actually being sent. Data from cinema activity, a member’s profile and their email subscriptions mean we can be extremely specific in the way we communicate with our customers. All of our email subscribers receive a weekly newsletter, but if they've opted in for special announcements, we can provide our customers with a tailor-made offer based on their habits at the cinema. For example, if there's a special opera screening and we've partnered up with a local wine seller, we can tell them directly that this is something they may be interested in.
Does big data management lead to more ticket sales?
We've noticed considerable return on investment from tapping into our data pool. If managed carefully, segmentation can work wonders. There's a lot of variety at a cinema, whether it’s the genre of films or the food and drinks on offer, so being able to discover what pushes our customers’ buttons has been extremely valuable.
How intense is the effort to manage the data? Does the audience have any concerns in terms of data protection?
It's very important for us to be clear and up front about the way we manage and use data with our customers. Big data is hugely beneficial, but we also need clean data so that we can reap the rewards of the work we do. We regularly contact our customers to ensure that preferences are managed by themselves, and we're extremely careful not to overstep the mark when it comes to sending out emails.
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