Going to the movies has become a pretty expensive affair. From movie tickets to concessions, prices have increased considerably, and movie theaters seem to do everything within their power to make you part with your cash. Here are some sneaky ways that movie theaters get you to spend more money with 10 Sneaky Ways Movie Theaters Get You To Spend More Money.
10. Expensively Priced Regular Items
The cinema-going experience is supposed to be a magical one. You wait and wait for your favorite movie to hit the theaters, then you queue up early to get tickets and the best seats, and of course, spend some time at the concession counter choosing your movie snacks. But did you know that each of these interactions is designed to get you to spend more and more money at the movie theater? With steeply increasing prices, the movie-goer is forced to shell out quite a bit of dough before they can enjoy a movie night. Tickets are still affordable, but the concessions – not so much. Concession counter staples like popcorn, candy, and soda are sold by the millions each year in the U.S. And concessions are where the movie theater makes the bulk of their profits. With clever advertising, strategic product placements and the constant bombardment of all your senses with food and drink symbolism, they make sure that you buy as much as possible at the concession counter. One clever trick that movie theaters employ is selling regular items at a higher price. Most items at movie theaters are often more expensive than you would find them outside. A large box of candy inside the movie theater, which by the way, has just the same amount of candy that you would find in a regular-sized box at the drugstore, costs way more than outside. Sometimes, the cost is almost 3 times the regular price. From luxury cinemas to chain theaters like AMC to single-screen cinemas, everyone is guilty of luring the customers into spending more money on food and drinks.
9. Attractive Food and Drink Displays at the Concession Counter
When you go to the movies, have you ever noticed how colorful, brightly lit and inviting everything is, especially the exterior of the movie theater? This is to ensure that you get attracted to buy a ticket and step inside. The next place where the movie theater can get you to spend your money is the concession counter. In fact, this is the only place where they can make the majority of their money since they reportedly get to keep only 50% of the ticket sales. What do you think of the concession counter? Is it big, bright and attractive or narrow, dimly lit and plain? It’s the former, of course. The latter is what resembles the rest of the movie theater. The theater hallways are lit in a regular manner with only movie posters decorating the walls. But not so for the concession counter. Next time you go to the movies pay close attention to the design and display of the ticket counter or Box Office and the display of the concessions area. The Box Office is plain and simple; generally, no frills at all; whereas the concession counter is bright, colorful and very attractive. There are large food and drink posters, bright television screens displaying enticing clips of food and drinks items on rotation, movie posters, advertisements of mouthwatering refreshments, and more. It almost seems to give you the come hither look and call out to you with its alluring displays. Movie theaters are guilty of deliberately making the concession counter look like something out of the movie itself. No man, woman or child is able to resist its charms and offers. Not unless you have the will power of a Jedi!
8. Movie Theaters Openly Practice Price Discrimination
Movie theaters employ clever tactics to get you to buy more food and drinks from the concession counter. They bombard you with advertisements promoting food and drink combos, upgrades to larger sized items, a complimentary item on the purchase of a certain item and so on and so forth. The main objective is to make sure that you spend as much as possible at the concession counter. They practically seduce you to the counter by means of attractive displays, appetizing smells, welcoming music, and dazzling offers. You may just want a tub of popcorn, but when they throw in words like ‘combos’ and ‘upgrades’, you inevitably bite the bullet and spring for the large soda, a giant box of candy or other such concession options. Movie theatres openly practice price discrimination towards their customers. If you’re wondering what exactly is price discrimination, here’s what it means in simple terms: Price discrimination is defined as a pricing policy employed by sellers wherein they are able to charge different prices, usually the highest possible ones, to customers for the same products based on how much the customer is willing and able to pay. Most often, the customer does not even know that they are experiencing price discrimination. But why do movie theaters do this? That’s because they make a majority of their income from concessions. For example, the movie theatre makes about 80 cents on the dollar for the food that you buy there. Whereas, they make only about 50 cents on the dollar on the admission tickets; the rest of the money reportedly goes to the distributor of the film. So naturally, concessions are where they have a chance to make maximum profits. As for how they practice price discrimination, it’s by various offers and promotions like ‘Free upgrades’, Free refills’, ’Buy one, get one free’, etc.
7. They Capitalize on Movie-Going Culture and Traditions
Knowingly or unknowingly, culture, customs, and traditions play a big part in our lives. Whether it’s going trick or treating with your kids on Halloween, not wearing white after Labor Day or buying flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day; we do these things without even giving them a second thought just because it is the done thing to do. Buying popcorn and soda at the movies is just like a custom or tradition; it has become a part of the movie-going experience. This concession counter-culture is deeply ingrained into the psyche of every American movie-goer; to an extent that some don’t even see the point in watching a movie with a bucket of popcorn in hand! To some, it’s an abomination to even think of a movie night without snacks and drinks. And it is precisely these habits, cultures and traditions that movie theaters take advantage of. They are well-aware of these customs and do everything within their power to capitalize on them. A perfect example of this capitalization technique is getting you to buy a large box of candy at the concession counter. Just think: would you normally eat a large box of candy in a 2-hour period, the average duration of a movie? But at a movie theater, you casually buy a large box without even thinking twice. Why? Because eating large amounts of candy has become a normal thing to do thanks to years and years of advertisements, films, and television propaganda. Eating popcorn, drinking soda, slurping on an icee or slushy has become a part of movie culture and a tradition in America. And we regularly fall prey to this sneaky movie theater tactic.
6. Oh, The Delicious Smells!
We often associate a person, thing or a place with certain smells. In the case of a movie theater, a vast majority of people associate it with the smell of freshly popped popcorn. As you think about it, we’re sure that you are already imagining the delicious aroma of buttery popcorn. It’s magical, isn’t it? True, soda, candy, hot dogs, nachos and such other snacks are also an important part of concession counter fare. But essentially, it is the popcorn smell that draws most people in. And factually speaking, it is an unavoidable smell. The flavorful odor is so strong that you want it even after you have decided that you do not need it. It’s the battle of your senses vs. your mind. So strong is the pull of the aroma that without even glimpsing the popcorn, you know that you want it. And popcorn is so inexpensive to make that the profit margins on popcorn of any size are ridiculously high. It is undoubtedly the most popular and the highest-selling item at any concession counter in the country. You could even say that popcorn is the bread and butter of movie theaters! While soda and candy may not be very successful in the sounds department, they certainly do the job in the visuals department! Imagine seeing a close-up clip of soda slowing falling over cubes of ice on a giant LCD screen? Wouldn’t you suddenly feel thirsty and be tempted to go and buy a soda ASAP? A still image of a colorful box of candy with playful characters on it does the same job. On the whole, movie theaters use every trick in the book to make you part with your hard-earned money at the concession counter.
5. The Add-On Food Effect
When you walk up to the concession counter at the movie theater, you experience a sensory overload of sights and smells, all of which are designed to grab your attention and entice you to shell out more money to buy things that you probably won’t even be able to finish. You buy the large soda and popcorn but if you reflect on it, do you really think that you are going to be able to finish the entire large bucket of popcorn and soda in a single sitting? Most of it will end up in the trash resulting in not only a tremendous amount of food wastage but also a waste of money. But what if you decided to have just some popcorn and nothing else? Well, movie theaters have got you there too. They know it all too well that if you eat a large tub of popcorn, you are probably going to get thirsty too. That’s good news for the theater because they get to sell you a large cup of soda too! This is what many would call the add-on food effect. More items mean more sales and more money for movie theaters.
4. They Offer Premium Food Experiences
In the recent past, the movie theaters business has undergone a kind of quiet revival. There are more and more high-end theaters offering luxurious amenities like plush seats, fully reclining seats, wining and dining options, private screening theaters, and several other VIP services. Food and drinks are also included in the luxury makeovers experienced by movie theaters. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a surge in theaters offering premium food experiences. These include gourmet snacks, alcoholic beverages, full meals, etc. They are designed not just for your pleasure, but also to fill the pockets of the movie theater. Offering premium food experiences enables the movie theaters to charge you an even higher price than standard concessions. While watching the latest Avengers flick, you can gorge on scrumptious sliders, sip on a handcrafted cocktail or even enjoy a steak dinner! No doubt these value-added services enhance the movie-going experience, but it also means that movie theaters get to charge exorbitant amounts for it.
3. Brand Tie-ins To Amp Up Food And Drink Sales
If you are a regular to the movies, you know that brand tie-ins are a regular phenomenon. From the latest animated film to the most popular superhero franchise, you are guaranteed to be offered a souvenir popcorn tub or soda cup at the concession counter. And most often, these souvenir items are priced slightly higher than their regular counterparts. But who can resist eating popcorn out of Ironman’s helmet or sipping on a soda from a Star Wars BB-8 shaped cup? The movie franchises sometimes even offer attractive character masks, action figures, gadgets, and other collectibles to further entice you. A Frozen drink cup, a souvenir Avengers popcorn bucket or other such brand tie-ins are designed to lure you in to spend more money on concessions. While the drink and popcorn served to you in these fancy containers are the same, movie theatres get to charge you extra for the brand tie-in. And kids are often the targets of these brand tie-in schemes. Colorful and attractively-packaged, these souvenir and collectible items are irresistible to children who want to take home a bit of movie magic. Sure, the kids will be happy with their toys and souvenirs, but it is the movie theaters who ultimately benefit from this money-making scheme.
2. Discounts And Promotions Through Loyalty Programs
Many theaters across America have a number of loyalty programs, including in-house programs or those that involve group deals. Movie theaters are experts at making you come back to the theaters by widely promoting their loyalty programs that promise to deliver more savings each time you spend a dollar at the theater. They even offer discounts on concessions that make you spend more than you intend to. For example, as a loyal member of a particular cinema chain, you would be offered a 10% discount on popcorn and soda every time you purchase a movie ticket; or a free popcorn when you bring in a friend with you. Additionally, if you’ve signed up for an app, they have 24/7 access to your phone and constantly send you push notifications for food and drinks which will further tempt you to go to the movies. Promotions and deals like via group deal apps like Groupon, Living Social, etc. are some other sneaky ways that movie theaters employ to get you to spend more money.
1. Food And Soda Commercials Before The Movie
Another sneaky trick that theaters use to get you to spend more money is by airing enticing food and drink commercials before the start of the movie. The process begins when they list the movie times at least 15 minutes earlier than the actual start of the movie. This allows them to show more commercials before the trailers, which is another source of revenue. And it keeps you, the movie-goer, waiting for a lot longer. If you have to sit through about 15-20 minutes of commercials and trailers, you will probably give in and go get something to eat or drink. Plus, if the commercials feature closeup shots of buttery popping popcorn or ice-cold soda, there’s just no way you are going to be able to resist!