Entertaining shoppers in 2021

03 Nov 2020

Like so many I love the escapism of the movies, especially if it involves huge explosions and super heroes. But with Cineworld closing its doors a few weeks back(Bond didn’t come to our rescue there did he?) and another lockdown, every week we’re seeing the movies get pushed further and further back. Some as far as 2022! 
One of the (many) knock on effects as we now enter a period of inertia is for brands that have previously used blockbuster movies to create promotions that both engage shoppers and excite their retailers. Cinema promotions, particularly when linked with a movie property, work due to their broad audience appeal, the additional media support and PR around the launch itself, as well as the great standout the properties generate onshelf. 
So as brands start to finalise their 2021 plans what are the alternatives that can deliver the scale and impact of a big blockbuster movie release promotion?
First, don’t rule out cinema quite yet
Whilst the ever moving movie slate makes planning difficult, the slate for 2021 is now jammed packed and with this consumer’s anticipation of getting back into their favourite seat, popcorn in hand, will continue to build.
Even if the commitment of a property tie-ins and the current unpredictability of the future slate makes you nervous, ticket-based offer consumers a reward with real monetary value. They can be run as prize based promotion or as collector using a 241 mechanic.
Plus, your brand will benefit from supporting the entertainment industry, getting bums back on seats rebuilding consumers’ confidence in the nation’s favourite leisure time.
Ready player one
Gaming is often considered the go-to-entertainment sector for big bags of chips and energy drinks, fuelling the stereotype young online gamers as they play through the night, and as a result is often overlook by brands that don’t fit into this mould.
The video game industry is now bigger than any movie or pop diva. In 2019 it surpassed $152bn in revenue. Huge diversity, accessibility, and, for some an affordable price point of zero means that each day more and more people become gamers. 
And it’s not just kids who are playing games. In fact, video games appeal across all demographics with Gen X actually out playing Gen Z by 25% to 23%, with Millennials making up the biggest demographic at 48%.
So, what to give away? Consoles is the obvious choice especially with PlayStation and Xbox launching their next gen consoles this Christmas. They provide amazing headline prizes as they are both high value and are instantly recognisable. However, there are now more ways than ever to reward consumers and to build out your prize pool offering more chances to win or even guaranteed rewards. Downloadable Content (DLC) such as new levels, weapons, mods and costumes can provide your brand with the opportunity to offer consumers something exclusive at a relatively low cost. Also, the way people buy games is changing with both PlayStation and Xbox offering Game Passes  which work just like a Netflix subscription. Another great way to build out a prize pool. 
There’s also the opportunity to tap into eSports, but will leave that to another day…
Netflix, Prime, Starzplay, Disney +, HBO… and chill
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that TV subscriptions have hugely benefited from us all spending more time at home, and offering trial subscriptions can be an extremely cost effective way to offer a high value incentive.
In 2020 53% of all households are subscribed to at least 1 video-on-demand service, with 24% subscribing to 2 or more.
What’s exciting as we move into 2021 is the growth specialist subscription services to appeal to different audiences. In 2020 alone we’ve seen the launch of Disney + and BritBox, as well as channels such as Starzplay and HBO investing heavily in new content.
Also, the growth and investment in content as well as theatrical releases going direct to streaming such as Disney’s Mulan, offers a seemingly untapped opportunity for brands to partner with these releases in the same way they would do in theatres.
The power of a good book
Ok, reading and books possibly feels like the antithesis of enjoying the big screen, but books can provide brands with a wide range of opportunities to engage shoppers from all demographics. At least one positive from the pandemic is that according to the National Literacy Trust children are reading and joying reading more in the lockdown. 
•    More than a quarter (27.6%) of children and young people say they are enjoying reading more during lockdown
•    A third (34.5%) of children and young people say they are reading more during lockdown
However, the conditions of lockdown did create more barriers to reading and whilst schools and libraries are open again, brands could play a role in improving access through promotions. 
But it’s not just children who are reading more. According to Nielsen’s Book Research the nation has increased the time it spends reading books from 3.5 hours a week to 6. 
The art of a great book promotion is finding the right publishing partner who have a catalogue that will resonate with your audience and can supply at the right price so you can build a compelling promotion whether that’s through a collector or a prize mechanic.
Perhaps the best thing about using books is the amazing diversity of content. This could be as simple as children’s books, but there’s also the chance to get creative. What about scary reads for Halloween? Fitness books to kick-start the new year? Or hobby interests now we’re all spending more time at home?
The power of entertainment
The best promotions are those that immediately engage shoppers, and entertainment, in whatever form, works. Quite simply, it doesn’t matter who your audience are, they want to be entertained and in today’s climate whether that’s a movie, a video game, a TV series or a book, rewarding them with away to escape (and save money) has never been more appealing.
That’s always been the power, and draw, of cinema. Two hours of immersing yourself in another world with zero distractions. And hopefully, we’ll get back to it soon. 
If you would like to find out more about how to entertain your shoppers get in touch for a free consultation.