IMAX has grown its business through engaging in innovation and the creation of brand loyalty and brand experience. Its core business involves the provision of large format and 3D films, as well as IMAX theatres dedicated to providing a unique IMAX movie experience based on quality sound and video. Using an assortment of marketing strategies, the company has positioned itself as the ideal choice for providing a unique theatre experience. According to statistics, 78% of people that have visited IMAX theatres return to watch another film due to this uniqueness (Pachner, 2009).
Product Description and Branding
This company has cut out a niche as the ideal choice in the theatre film industry. Its core business is divided into two major, albeit diverse categories, which are the provision of IMAX theatre systems and the large format films. These two have been the company’s brand equity with the use of such strategies as derived branding and multi branding. For instance, in the theatre industry, the company has created IMAX systems for both audio and video, whose quality and experience is unique to only IMAX. IMAX, hence creating exclusivity in its access and utility in theatres, has patented the technology (Jean-Noël, 2008). This is one of the forms of derived branding used by the company.
In the large format films, the company is involved in their production, distribution, re-mastering, and postproduction. It converts traditional format films that are aired in theatres into the trademark IMAX large format films through a process called digital media remastering (DMR). Additionally, it has also ventured into the production of high quality 2D films that are in high definition (HD) formats, as well as the iconic 3D films. The latter is exclusively produced and owned by IMAX. Therefore, using this analogy, IMAX has engaged in multi branding to drive its core business.
Finally, the company has modeled its products into the edutainment and Hollywood entertainment industries. In Hollywood, it converts all movies produced to suit the IMAX theatres and provide its customers with the unique IMAX movie experience. In the edutainment industry, the company is involved in the production of documentaries and educational films that are targeted for the school going children, as well as the college, high school, and university students. These edutainment productions are ideal for the company since their shelf life runs for years, as compared to Hollywood films, which have a shelf life of a few weeks before they are reproduced into DVDs for sale and the pay-per-view formats.
This is a useful tool utilized by companies to segregate the market and/or customers based on their response to diverse product (reaction), their needs (homogeneity), and their inimitability to other groups (distinction). Using this strategy, IMAX has divided its core customers into different segments based on their age, education level, gender, social caste, and love for movies. According to statistics, the company’s main customers are between 12 and 39 years. Further, this group has been divided into two groups, the 12 to 24, and 24 to 39. According to statistics, the 12 to 24 group represent approximately 38% of all moviegoers, 41% of the regular moviegoers. The 24 to 39 years group represents approximately 29% of all moviegoers.
The market segmentation for IMAX is structured to suit these two main target customers. The 12 to 24 group are mainly derived from school going children, as well as college and university students seeking viewership for the edutainment films. The 24 to 39 group is constituent of university students, as well as the young educated people with disposable incomes, hence can afford the high prices placed on IMAX theatres and films. In this latter segment, the company airs films that are considered as Box Office and which have a wide appeal for their maturity, high budget, quality production and actors, and unique storylines. Finally, the last customer segment is mainly constituent of families and children and IMAX airs family films such as PG rated movies and cartoons (Jean-Noël, 2008).
In the theatre systems market segment, the company focuses its resources and strategies on theatres that are well established and have a wide customer loyalty and traffic. Using theatres as a focus market, the company provides and installs the IMAX systems at no charge, and reaps from ticket sales. Choice of these theatres is based on location such as proximity to malls, geographical placement in developed countries such as china, and on brand experience for the companies (Barker, Valos and Shimp, 2012). Some of the notable companies that IMAX has partnered with are such as ODEON and UCI Cinemas, CJ, CGV, National amusements, Regal Cinemas Inc., Tokyu Cinemas, and AMC Entertainment.
IMAX developed its brand name as a company providing edutainment films in the early 1990s, and has used this strategy to have a foothold of its target market. In this early period, it was responsible in not only screening educational films and documentaries, but in their production. Therefore, in the ensuing years, it has amassed one of the largest and richest sources of edutainment films. This strategy has been useful in positioning the company as an icon in the edutainment industry, with a history of the production of quality, unique and entertaining educational films, and documentaries. Other companies such as Walt Disney have also joined in this industry though their poor and minimal films cannot match the pre-eminence and brand experience enjoyed by IMAX. The company has also positioned itself in theme parks, zoos, and science and history national museums. This is close to its target customers, the school going children and college and university students.
The company’s major competitors stem from its movie production and distribution business. Initially, it faced competition in the large format films segment from companies such as Mega systems and Iwerks. These companies produced large format films, and aired traditional format films, respectively. However, they were faced out by IMAX’s unique branding and marketing. In the film production and distribution, the company faces competition from well-established brands and companies such as Walt Disney, Lions Gate, Pixar, Carmike, and Regal Entertainment. However, due to the unique large format films and 3D technology used by IMAX, the company has been able to cushion itself from the adverse competitive environment. In spite of this strategy, the company has still lost its value, with analysts estimating that its value has dropped from $196 million in 1994 to $138 million in 2008.
In a bid to develop customer interest and loyalty, IMAX has been producing 3D films. Films such as The Hobbit trilogy, Spiderman, and The Avengers have been produced in large format films, as well as 3D format. According to statistics, the films have raked in at least 30% more revenues, as compared to large format and traditional format films for the same movies (Campbell, 2000). Therefore, IMAX has always utilized a promotions and advertising campaign that strives to produce films in IMAX formats on their exact release dates in the Box Office. Instead of providing advertising for the movie’s content, IMAX opts for advertising of the quality of the film, and locations in IMAX theatres that the films can be viewed. For instance, the movie, Hubble 3D is marketed as being produced in IMAX format, hence customers can look forward to the unique IMAX movie experience in either 3D, or expert and quality audio and video systems and productions.
Public Relations Campaign
One of the pertinent and most useful schemes being used by the company is puffery. It markets its systems and movies as the best available viewing experience currently in the market. Therefore, this has increased customer numbers to its theatres, especially on release dates of popular movies. However, advancements in technology have resulted in the creation and sale of TVs and audio systems whose output is similar to that experienced in IMAX. Additionally, the production of certain films using only one format such as 3D ensures that the customers can only watch the films in theatres with IMAX systems. Additionally, their adverts are designed to portray IMAX as the only place to view a movie such as the famous line ‘Only in IMAX theatres’.
IMAX uses an interactive and user-friendly website where customers can access information regarding IMAX products, films, systems, and theatres spread across different countries. It also holds a segment where the customer can view future films that will be produced using IMAX formats, as well as their release dates in different IMAX theatres. In movie trailers posted online in such engines as You Tube, IMAX integrates a section with an advert indicating the production of the film in IMAX formats, and availability in its theatres. It has also utilized digital marketing using social media such as Facebook and twitter where customers can interact and discuss on their IMAX experience and films, which IMAX should produce or air in their IMAX theatres. This acts as a customer feedback section for the company on the type, quality, and usefulness of their products and service delivery. Finally, the company sends out email notifications to customers whose emails exist or are stored in the IMAX database whenever they use the IMAX online ticket system.
Direct Marketing Campaign
The use of email is one of the most prolific techniques used by the company to engage their customers through provision of catalogues for new movies, pricing, newer technological additions, new theatres, and contact information for the IMAX support team. Aside, from this, the company offers a website where customers can provide feedback on the service delivery and experience at IMAX theatres. This acts as a form of survey by the company to assess their business strategy and customer relationship (Barker, Valos and Shimp, 2012). In this context, the company also uses telemarketing where customers can call dedicated IMAX telephones and engage a real-time customer agent with regards to any issues, questions, compliments, and complains they may have.
Barker, N. B., Valos, M. and Shimp, T. A. (2012). Integrated Marketing Communications. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
Campbell, E. (2000). The IMAX Branded Theatre Experience in IMAX Experience, a publication of IMAX Corporation.
Jean-Noël, K. (2008). The New Strategic Brand Management: Creating and Sustaining Brand Equity Long Term. London, UK: Kogan Page Publishers.
Pachner, J. (2009). IMAX at the climax. Canadian Business. 81 (22/23): 50-53.