Could buying popcorn in a theatre be a ‘conditioned’ response? Could it be that people are ‘trained’ to believe that movies and popcorn go ‘hand in hand’ – and that one without the other is….”incomplete?” And, therefore, price is just not an issue at all?
What a powerful place to be as a marketer, wouldn’t you agree?
Of course, there are some customers who fall in the above group yet still aren’t completely happy with the experience. They still end up buying the popcorn because the desire to have popcorn with their movie outweighs the pain of having to pay the higher price.
Here are more answers that I received…
“It is marketed as all part of the movie going experience! And they’ve got a captive audience – you can’t get it in there unless you buy it from them. So if you want to experience the movie it it’s fullest extent, you need to get the popcorn, and it needs to be their popcorn.”
“First off may I say it is the conditioning that the movie theatres, producers etc have done. Movies and popcorn go hand in hand. The movie goer has been conditioned all throughout life, so that is what is on their minds when going to a movie. Once at the movies the smell of popcorn cooking, the power of the senses reinforces the thought of movies and popcorn. Once at the movies you are a captive audience.”
Yep. As, you can see, there’s more than one marketing principle at work here. Stacked on top of each other, these strategies produce the overall result that’s very powerful and very effective.
I’ll go over each one below. And…I’ll also cover one big mistake movie theatres are making.
Let’s discuss the various marketing principles that are involved in “popcorn marketing”:
1. Conditioning and Programmed Responses
Since childhood, people have been ‘conditioned’ to associate popcorn with movies. Growing up, many of us enjoyed popcorn with our favourite movies, and we now see a bag of popcorn as an addition to the “overall” movie-enjoying experience. Some of us even see it as a ‘requirement’ to watching a movie.
Here’s how one of my smart subscribers explained it…
“I think cinemas are relying on a very strong emotion — nostalgia. Many of our happiest memories from childhood probably involve experiencing wonderful movies, maybe Bambi or Mary Poppins. It is likely that popcorn accompanied these life-changing events. Whenever we go to see a movie, popcorn will be linked with some of our happiest memories. I’m surprise they can’t get away with charging more!”
Bingo! We have been conditioned and ‘trained’ to believe that movies and popcorn go hand in hand. Watching a movie without having popcorn somehow doesn’t seem ‘complete.’
Eating popcorn by itself may or may not do anything for people. But, having popcorn while enjoying a movie is the “icing on the cake.” It enhances the movie-going experience.
Yet, others are conditioned to want to munch on ‘something’ while they’re watching a movie, be it popcorn, a hotdog, or any other snack. Because of this conditioning, they will buy something from the concession stand, despite the high prices.
But here’s what’s really interesting… movie theatres didn’t create this demand or ‘conditioned’ response. They simply aligned with an ‘existing’ demand, an existing ‘conditioning’ and fulfilled it.
What are the other demands and ‘conditioning’ mechanisms that exist around you which you could tap into and profit from? Look around. I’m sure you’ll start to see many of them once you shift your focus towards that.