Reminding the Entertainment Industry

07 Jun 2005|Added Value

In a recent column in AdAge, Scott Donaton comments on a plan to simultaneously release films in theaters, on DVD and pay TV, leaving the decision on how, when and where to watch the movies to filmgoers. This seems progressive to me and very much on track with putting the consumer in control, but apparently entertainment execs fear it will doom their business model. They explained to Scott, “we just need to remind people how much they like going to the theatre.”

“Remind?” If people enjoy going to the movie theatre so much, why do they increasingly prefer watching movies elsewhere? What part of the theatre going experience would you remind them of–the fixed times? the over-priced, low quality food? the lack of parking? the dirty floors? the noisy kids behind them? the scratched screen? Rather than remind them of something that they most likely do only because, up until now, they haven’t had an alternative, I’d suggest the entertainment industry rethink the entire theatre going experience. This experience is so badly broken, it almost screams for innovation. And once the choice is real–once people can choose when and where they watch a new release–the theatres won’t have much time left to convince crowds that they are even worth consideration.

Other businesses have survived this type of competition by innovating their core offerings. Here’s a few examples:

Radio–I imagine more than a few radio moguls quaked at the sight of TV. But, radio remains a large and vital medium. They didn’t try to remind listeners of how much they liked not seeing what they were hearing. Instead, they changed their programming, offering services TV couldn’t or wouldn’t match and dispersing their delivery system into cars and other portable devices where TV couldn’t go (at least until recently).

Coffee shops–as good coffee became increasingly easy to prepare at home or get in the office, the traditional cafe should have receded. But Starbucks , and others like it, came along and reinvented the experience of enjoying coffee. They changed the product, the environment, the lingo–in fact, they changed the entire meaning of coffee consumption.

Apple–Microsoft had beaten it into an “also ran” in the business PC market, but Apple didn’t just remind its declinding base of users how much they enjoyed using the Mac. Instead, they innovated around the PC, drawing in new populations of photo-takers and music-lovers. The company redefined itself more broadly as providing tools for creative enjoyment and expression. In doing that, they simultaneously made their company more attractive and more likely to survive the next wave of change.

If I owned a major chain of theatres, I would immediately start studying the market and seeing how I could create a more meaningful experience for customers. Once I identified a few opportunities, I’d start creating new concepts and get feedback from both currrent movie-goers and ones who’ve stopped going. I’d continue iterating these concepts until one or two was consistently “hitting” with a large potential audience. Then I’d get to work making it a reality, assuring that every aspect of it contributed to an experience that people longed for. If I did this, I wouldn’t have to remind anyone to enjoy it–in fact, they’d become my defacto marketing force, letting others know how great the experience was.

Unfortunately, I don’t own a major chain of theatres, but if you do, you might want to give us a call. Soon.

prev next