Leveraging Authenticity & Personalization: Key Trends in Cinema Marketing for 2024

March 4, 2024
The DX Team
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In their 2024 Social Media Trends Report, SEMRUSH Social points out that “natural”, user-generated-like content and “realness” are the name of the game when it comes to building trust with today’s audiences. Even with content creators, being authentic is finally becoming more important and relevant than stardom or vanity metrics such as the number of followers — it’s the way to earn trust and gain engagement.

Yes, it might sound like a buzzword we’ve been hearing about for years, but we also know, from practice, that brands which leverage behind-the-scenes content, their employees as real ambassadors, and so on, are the ones reaping the rewards.

To quote another study by McKinsey from 2021: 71% of consumers expect personalized interactions from brands, while companies that leverage personalization see more return on their marketing investment (up to 40% for fast-growing companies). 

So all signs point, for years now, to creating more points of contact with your customers, genuinely.   

What does this mean for your cinema? I’ll be exploring easy, fun, and creative ways to include authentic communication and personalized marketing tactics in your cinema marketing — with insights from the many conversations I’ve had with cinema operators from our DX community, who do it well.

The “raw” behind-the-scenes 

As Clarissa Bergh, the cinema manager of Lillehammer Kino (Norway), once pointed out to us: it’s important to be spontaneous in your marketing, at times, and show the personality of your cinema and your staff. Her approach was to create a TikTok “squad” at her cinema that showcases what’s it like to work in a cinema, in fun, creative short videos: from setting up the kiosk to cleaning an auditorium, from leveraging TikTok trends to sharing their favourite snacks. The result? People coming to their cinema feel like they know each member of the staff and they’re happy to engage more.

What does this mean for you?

This is a marketing trend that, done right, not only builds engagement but is a great opportunity to highlight the personality of your cinema. Your moviegoers are probably curious to know more about the inner workings of your day-to-day and what it means to run a cinema, so why not make them a part of it? 

If you’re not convinced, start small. Try sharing a once-a-week image with a behind-the-scenes moment like making popcorn, filling the snacks in your kiosk, preparing a film premiere, etc. If you have an established brand personality for your cinema, then leverage that with employee highlight moments, fun quizzes about the staff, or having a monthly “sharing” moment as the cinema manager / owner / founder. 

Authenticity only works if it’s real. 

The personal touch 

This one, firstly, falls in line with the previous point, as authenticity includes making your marketing content personal. So don’t be afraid to create content about all aspects of your cinema with help from your staff. For instance, one other recent example we’ve been discussing at DX is Bryne Kino (Norway). They leverage their Instagram and TikTok accounts to highlight different “personas” as part of their team, with the cinema manager being a fun, rounded “character” that everyone will recognize.

Secondly, when we talk about personal touch in marketing, of course, we talk about both authenticity and personalization. What are easy ways to personalize your cinema marketing? Well, it can be as simple as adding the first name automation in your email newsletter or localizing your marketing materials (posters, trailers) with your cinema branding. 

Source: DX blog and Lillehammer Kino - Behind the scenes 

Don’t forget that personalization goes both ways! 

On the one hand, you want to highlight that your cinema has a unique personality reflected through your visual identity (logos, colours, fonts), the way you “talk” in all your materials, the way your staff present themselves, the way you localise film marketing etc. On the other hand, there’s the whole customer experience you’re creating — the more personalization you include for your cinemagoers, the more cared for they will feel.

So, from scratch, you can start as simple as adding a first name to your email newsletters, if you use them, or go the more advanced route and create curated lists for your moviegoers based on their preferences. For instance, some of the cinema operators in our community shared with us that they’re exploring ways to bring segmentation based on audience insights to their marketing toolbox. Imagine being a horror fan and receiving the next 2 weeks or even a month's worth of horror scheduling in advance from your favourite cinema! Or being a Marvel fan and receiving a special discount after going to 4 Marvel films at your local cinema.

The same goes for your paid marketing. You can start as simple as adapting your content/ads to what you know about your cinema’s community. Or go the more advanced route and have defined targeting lists of moviegoers based on their film interests, demographics, or complementary passions. For instance, if you’re doing a knitting club at your local cinema, why not reach out to knitting communities on Facebook, Instagram, etc. and adapt your film marketing to them?

User-generated content (UGC) and co-creation 

Talking about feeling engaged and cared for — what better way to make your moviegoers a part of your cinema marketing than actually include them? That’s where the power of storytelling, fandom, and user-generated content comes in. 

There are a ton of ideas when it comes to UGC and co-created content, but let’s paint in broad strokes and think about a couple of directions you should test at your cinema: a special event for a film premiere where you design an Instagrammable corner (need we talk even more about the Barbie booth?), a themed night for people to get in costumes, a social media contest with fan art or creating the next poster for a dedicated campaign at your cinema, a “moviegoer of the month” type of campaign based on testimonials or fun stories, etc.

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