Now premiering – samples and coupons – General Cinema theaters

Now premiering – samples and coupons – General Cinema theaters – Alternative Media

Risa Bauman

A new sampling and couponing program is now showing at the nearly 350 General Cinema theaters across the U.S.

The “captive-audience” setting of the movie theater permits specially trained distributors to hand out product samples or coupons to moviegoers as they enter or leave the theater. And there is little duplication as there often is in a mall or a supermarket, says Richard Maid, vice president of Langworth Taylor Co., White Plains, N.Y., the marketing and promotion agency running the program with General Cinema.

“The idea [behind the program] is that everyone goes to the movies, but they are active people who are hard to reach,” Maid says.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America, two-thirds of the population over the age of 12 goes to the movies. Among moviegoers, more than half are ages 12 to 29, and 65 percent are ages 16 to 39. People over age 60 account for 7 percent of total admissions.

It is the segmentation possibilities that make this program attractive. “Marketers can select which movie they want to distribute in based on the audience–male, female, kids, teens or seniors,” says Maid. They can also segment by day of the week, time of day, geography and seasonality.

The program kicked off in Atlanta two months ago with a Pepsi taste test. Some 10,000 moviegoers of all ages sampled three new Pepsi flavors.

General Cinema is among the many major theater chains that do not allow commercials to run with movies, so the sampling takes place in a clutter-free environment.

Competition with movie snack bars isn’t an issue either, according to Jack Leonard, vice president of theater marketing, General Cinema Theaters, Chestnut Hill, Mass. In most cases the samples are fairly small, no comparison to the jumbo-size snacks found at most concession stands.

The cost to marketers depends on product weight, but Maid puts the average cost at 5 cents per delivered sample, 3 cents per coupon and 7 cents for both.

The marketer ships the product to one of General Cinema’s distribution centers, and the theater chain delivers it to the designated movie houses.

Clients are urged to sign on for four-week blocks, which theoretically eliminates duplication since most people don’t go to the same movie theater more than once a month.

Initially, it was believed the program would only work well for food products. “But several non-food marketers are interested, such as toothpaste, and fast-food chains that are couponing to drive traffic,” says Maid. He has also heard from companies that want to give out product information, such as auto manufacturers.

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