2024: Marketing Trends, Reflections, and What It All Means for Cinemas

January 22, 2024
Jenny Sidorova
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As I take on the first 2 weeks of the year, I’m always amazed what a sense of opportunity one feels when a new year starts.

To me, it’s always felt like a page turns in all aspects of life.

It’s quite particular this time around as a lot of change is on the horizon. My partner is freelancing while looking for his next full time adventure. My daughter is speaking more and more FrEnglish (while it was mostly French prior). We’re excited to welcome a baby boy in May which means I’ll be going on maternity leave this year. And looking at my Linkedin feed, my work life is impacted in 3 ways: marketing, cinema industry, and technology.

All 3 have a lot to say about 2024.

Marketing is always noisy, every year there are more and more platforms, new challenges, and it gets harder to stay authentic yet continue to market to people. Social media is the area I prefer least, because the platforms seems to always be looking for ways to make it harder to see content you actually want to see (as a consumer) and thus show content to your relevant audience (as a brand). But this feels like the norm for the last several years, so not shocking. The cinema industry feels a bit mixed. There are hints of optimism as there are more and more experiential cinemas popping up and industry insiders who confirm that the experience cannot remain unchanged if the industry is to remain prevalent, but there is the reality of what streaming, technology, and covid have done to the industry, not to mention the lack of content due to the latest strike and how much harder it is to wow audiences than it was 10 years ago. And finally, for technology. This space has its own arena of mixed emotions. On one hand, the future is exciting because of AI, virtual experiences being on the rise, and the overall evolution of technology we see every single year, but on the other hand, we’ve seen a lot of layoffs across the industry and we know that things are financially a struggle for many companies across the board. Not to mention the disappointment I feel as a #remotefirst advocate when I see all of the back to office mandates.

So why the optimism you may ask? What I find particularly exciting is the bridge between marketing, cinema, and technology, and I love being a part of DX, which represents a clear bridge between all 3.

To add to the list of all the 2024 marketing trends being shared, I thought I’d shed some light into the 9 I feel most strongly about, how cinemas can use those trends, and how we’re building our marketing plan for 2024 at DX to reflect those priorities.

My 2024 marketing trends pick include:

1. Authenticity

Still on the trend’s list, but now B2B companies are taking note.I’ve been reading about, and preaching about authenticity since the birth of social media, which dates back to how long I’ve been a marketer. But more notably, since visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest joined the social media circuit and B2C brands started to worry more and more about their digital appearance and customer experience. What’s exciting this year is that B2B brands are finally taking note as well and also becoming increasingly concerned with their image being authentic and the brand they are putting out there. Nothing new for us at DX as we even went through an entire rebrand process last year, but exciting to see the B2B and tech space start notice that you can’t just speak to people about products. They simply don’t care what it is you’re trying to sell, but rather the what and the why they should buy it from you and how that might impact values they care about.

2. Testimonials

Brand content becomes even more natural, ugc-style campaigns, de-influencing.Also nothing new to the B2C space. UGC went from little to huge with the rise of TikTok in the last few years, but what’s interesting to see is the impact on that content, and how it needs to be even more authentic than before. Again, something I’m excited for B2B brands to take a note of. It’s not enough to work with an influencer but rather the right influencer, partner, or even better: customer.

3. AI - as a tool for marketers

This is touching all industries, but it’s exciting to see marketers lean into AI and work even smarter than before. I’ve been using ChatGPT more and more in the ideation process of content planning as well as for help with things like article titles. Also, I’ve found that it’s a phenomenal research tool. Rather than asking Google, I often ask AI, but I always cross-check the information provided.

4. Immersive experiences in the virtual world

Web3 is not going away.I spent several weeks feeling frustrated over completely uneducated posts about web3 being dead. Uneducated, how? A lot of people, who know very little about the space, reading a lot of fake news or misleading headlines (hello click bait!) posting opinions like “I knew it, web3 is dead” on Linkedin. Of course anyone who bothers to follow the topic from an anthropologist’s angle knows that we’re still just in the early stages of the building blocks of web3, and when you see big luxury brands from LVMH and Kering, and all industries across gaming, fashion, and more invest heavily in the space, you know it won’t simply go away. AI will certainly create a bridge that many were missing and 2024 professes to be a year where web3 conversations pick up, and thus immersive experiences in the virtual world do so. And i personally find that exciting, even if I don’t know exactly what that means yet.

5. TikTok - through engaging UGC videos

As much as I don’t understand TikTok, I know it’s important and definitely not going away. And every trend’s list over the last few years continue to confirm this. So I’ll continue to pay close attention and read up. But I likely still won’t get a TikTok account.

6. Linkedin for Influence - Linkedin’s leadership for B2B relationships (it’s more about credibility than your IG/TikTok followers)

This one is really interesting at a time where Linkedin’s algorithm is reminiscent of that of Facebook and Instagram. Being less and less about organic but with a paid structure that many small businesses either can’t afford or don’t see the value in (yet), it’s interesting to see B2B companies pivot to the algorithm changes the platform is going through. B2B relationships will be even more important and partnering with the right influencers on the platform.

7. The rise of dark social

You can’t track everything, so define well what matters. Making more decisions with less data. This one remains to be seen in terms of how it takes form, but we all know it’s coming. We all know that cookies are going away. And we all know that it’s going to drastically change the name of the social and search games.

8.Customer experience - own and craft every step of your customers’ interaction with you

This one is not new either, but I’m happy to see it continues to be on the trend’s lists, as it’s particularly relevant to the cinema industry we service. It has never been more about each step of the customer journey, and not forgetting that this can now include physical, digital, and virtual. Either way, companies are going to have to pay special attention to how they craft the customer experience across every single touch point their customers have with their brand.

Trends are great, but my favorite thing as a marketer is translating them into the industry I service and work for.

What exactly can cinemas do with those 8 marketing trends?

  1. Tell your story, not just the movies you show but what’s your cinema story? What’s your unique reason to exist? This is something cinemas have already started doing, expanding their offer to go well beyond film so that movie-goers get a full fledged experience. Even my local and small cinema in Saint Jean de Luz France has recently revamped their cafe to be more inviting and I’ve often taken my daughter even if we weren’t headed to see a film. Everyman Cinema does this really well. They have a recognizable brand, so you always know when you’re in one of their locations. Their unique reason to exist is clearly stated on their website “We create a warm and friendly atmosphere, with an excellent food and drink selection and fantastic customer service. With a wide array of mainstream, independent and classic films, special events, launches and a diverse calendar of live satellite broadcasts, there is something for everyone at Everyman.”
  2. Tell your customer’s/moviegoers' stories.
  3. ChatGPT for ideation and as a copy starter for social, email, etc.
  4. Pay attention, read up, download our Tech Innovation & Cinema e-book (coming soon). You don’t have to know all the definitions or have all the answers, but when a tech innovation is being talked about by the industry, and other (practically all) industries, it’s important to at least pay some attention and be aware of what’s in the works. Why are people talking about.
  5. Your own fun account OR hashtags to encourage your audience to post. If you don’t have the resources to manage your own TikTok account, that’s ok. Get on there, search relevant hashtags like #movie, #cinema, #movieclips, #filmtok, etc. and just pay attention to what people are saying. These are your movie-goers, your audience so you’ll want to know what is it that interesting to them. You can check out this page for more.
  6. Not as relevant for cinemas, but for us at DX, yes. More on that below.
  7. Define your KPIs on each channel and focus on them. If you don’t know what a KPI is, then start there. Not paying attention to what’s going on with your digital presence is like not paying attention to how many tickets did you sell last week. It’s important to understand your efforts. The basics would include online ticket sales, website visits, social media engagement if you have social media, email newsletter open rate and click through rate if you have a newsletter, and so on. You don’t have to track everything but try to at least pay attention to one KPI per channel.
  8. Think about your ‘cinema brand’ online and offline (and maybe in the virtual space too). Don’t forget that your audience doesn’t see channels, they just see you. Whether they buy tickets online or in the physical cinema, they want to have a good and seamless experience.

And finally, what do these trends mean for DX?

Well it certainly means that we’re going to keep an eye on the future and innovation, as has been engrained in our DNA since we were born.

For marketing, our content themes will focus on AI, future of cinema, and tech innovation. So expect to see more content from us on these topics. We’re also going to get smarter about how we share and repurpose our content. We’re starting to have a nice repository of resources: DX Talks, our blog, ebooks, even our Customer Stories.

So how can we leverage these more will be a key question to answer this year.

We also have the objective of being more data driven which means making decisions based on data and not just assumptions. Intuition is a big part of marketing but so is data. Our key channels will remain LinkedIn, our email newsletter, our website, and blog.

We’ll of course keep a pulse on industry events but we have to be smart about the ones we attend and make sure they align with our brand values and our potential customers’ interests.

And, as always, we will continue to keep the customer at the heart of everything we do, further investing in our Ambassador program, Customer Stories, testimonials, and more.

On a personal note, 2024 has already started as a big year. I turned 40 just last week, which felt like a bigger milestone than I anticipated. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people near and far that made it a truly special birthday. I’m also going to be going on maternity leave this year as we’re expecting a baby boy mid May. Baby number 2 will certainly shake things up and I don’t anticipate the transition to be easy. It’s always humbling to think about business, marketing, and work in the context of bigger life things like bringing life into the world. I feel very lucky to be part of the DX journey and leaving for maternity leave from a company that I believe in. The experience will be very different than my first maternity leave, not to mention sans covid this time.

Either way, I’m excited for what the future holds for our industry, for marketing, and for myself (probably in the reverse order of priority).

This article first appeared on Jenny's LinkedIn profile. You can always follow her posts on all things cinema industry, marketing, and remote work here.

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