Thursday, April 28, 2005

Q&A: The Concessions Parade

Thanks to inspired web searchers and Martha's AdWords campaign, I've started getting some questions on the comments section of the blog posts. I have a bit of a problem deciding how to answer these. Since generally they do not come with email addresses, I have the option of answering these in the comments or as new posts to the blog.

Since these are generally questions that address topics that are relevant to the blog and I try to be as thoughtful about responding to them as I do about creating new posts, I've decided they belong as posts in the blog. I answered one in the comments section the other day, but I'll repost the reply later in case the inquirer missed it.

So onto the most recent question about Concessions. Eric who is on his way to delivering cinema to the Denver market asked if there was an optimal placement of the concessions stand. More specifically, he asked if per-moviegoer sales would improve if concessions were sold before or after the moviegoers' tickets were taken.

This being a question that I really hadn't though to research before, I tried to think of any sources where this research would be available. Given the corporate nature of the exhibition industry today, somebody must have looked into this somehere. But after mulling over it for a while I realized that the underlying issue isn't about the placement of the concession stand.

So Eric, to answer your question, from my perspective I don't think it's even an issue. While I certainly think all the details of your theater should be deliberate, and the per-caps will definitely be affected by where you place the concession stand, I don't believe thinking about this will help you acheive what you want. In the end, it doesn't come down to what concession positioning has proven to make the most money or pleased the most people in other theaters. It comes down to what specific theater experience you want to provide. You're in total control of how you want to get your patrons from point A to point B, from people choosing to spend their evening at your theater to them finishing that evening having had the awesomest time of their lives. Somewhere along the line they'll probably want to get some popcorn. But let your vision of the theater, and the terms of your patrons decide that. The market research might help inform your decision, but visualizing it for a couple of minutes and leveraging your knowledge of the theater and market would get you to the same answer (if not a more optimal one).

*Martha sometimes tells me that it's frustrating to talk to me about stuff because I'll often disregard the questions that people ask me by reframing them or saying that the real question is something different. For fear that this may be the case with some of my responses (such as this one), I want to say that my intent isn't to stifle ideas or discredit the questions that people are grappling with. I just try to explain things the way I see them. And if it seems twisted, like I tell her, I can't help it if I'm so right :)


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