Let’s face it, being a product manager for a movie theater chain was not an easy job before the Covid-19 virus showed up. Netflix and other streaming services were cutting into people’s desire to go out and purchase movie tickets. Now that the virus has arrived, movie theaters have been closed and even more people have become comfortable sitting at home watching TV instead of going to the movies. It looks like these product managers have a real challenge in front of them. How are they going to change their product development definition in order to get customers to come back to the movies?
What’s Wrong With Movie Theaters?
The Covid-19 virus certainly didn’t help things, but movie theaters were in trouble even before the virus came to town. Technology had already started to steal customers away from going out to the movies. Although movie theater product managers may be quick to blame the arrival of new technologies for their woes, they also need to understand that customers were leaving because they were not happy with the product that the movie theaters were providing them with.
If you spend a few moments thinking about what it takes to go out to see a movie you can see my point. As parents become busier trying to take care of their children, going to the movie theater seems like more and more of a hassle. If they did go, they need to find a parking spot; the food was overpriced and when they entered the movie theater they had to shimmy into narrow rows of folding seats that felt like they were packing into a sardine can. The arrival of Netflix and Amazon Prime gave these customers an alternative way to watch movies and they flocked to it.
How Will Product Managers Save The Movie Theater?
Product managers need to understand that coming up with ways to get customers to come back to the movie theater is about survival. What can they do? Product managers can convert their theaters to stadium seating and use those recliner-seats. Product managers need to realize that if they don’t continue to innovate then people will vote with their wallets. What this means for movie theater product managers is that they will just stay home.
What else can product managers do? They can invest in new projector technology and better audio equipment. And the menu can be upgraded as well: customers can still buy popcorn and Milk Duds, but the theater now makes big money selling quesadillas, craft beers and cocktails. If product managers can do all of this then their audience numbers will remained healthy, and they can increase revenue.
Why should movie theater product managers go to all of this effort? Since the middle of last decade, streaming memberships at Netflix alone have increased 193% to 168 million, while ticket sales at U.S. box offices have been stuck at around 1.3 billion annually. This is not going to look good on anyone’s product manager resume. Ticket revenues have varied between $10.4 billion and $11.9 billion a year, buoyed by steadily rising ticket prices. Product managers should be concerned because Americans say they are willing to pay $44 per month on a growing list of available streaming services — that’s nearly the cost of five movie tickets.
The product managers need to think like a viewer. Theaters with recliners lose at least 50% of their seating capacity. That’s a problem if you’re only operating during Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving or Memorial Day, the peak movie going dates. But if you’re thinking about the rest of the year, when a cinema’s capacity utilization goes as low as 5 to 15%, product managers are seeing the bigger picture. Product managers need to understand that if fewer, better seats encourage people to pay more and come back more often, installing them and replacing them every few years is the only option.
What All Of This Means For You
Movie theater product managers are facing a big problem. Movie theaters were losing customers before Covid-19 arrived and shut them all down. As they start to reopen, they are now faced with all of their old challenges as well as customers who have become used to sitting at home and watching Netflix. What is a product manager to do?
The problem that movie theater product managers are running into is that they are no longer delivering a product that their customers want. Going to the movie theater has become a big hassle in terms of parking, food costs, and narrow seats. Customers would rather stay home and watch Netflix in the comfort of their own homes.
Product managers are going to have to make changes in order to lure customers back. One such change is to replace the seats in movie theaters with recliners. Other changes involve upgrading the projection and the audio systems. The food that is being served at movie theaters is also getting an upgrade and many new offering are being added. The new upgrades will reduce the number of seats that can be sold, but it may increase the audience throughout the year. More customers all the time will be what it will take to save movie theaters.
Movie theatre product managers can save their product. However, they are going to have to realize that the product that they have been providing to their customers will no longer do the job. Instead, they are going to have look at their product manager job description and make the effort to transform both the movie theaters and the going to the movies experience. If they can successfully do this, then going to the movie theater just might be something that we start to do again.
Question For You: Do you think that movie theater product managers can do just part of the transformation and be successful?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Product managers for food products are facing a couple of different challenges right now. The first is that the cost of making food is currently rising. This means that their products are becoming more expensive even without them doing anything. The other problem that they are facing is that they are facing tough competition – other companies are making food products that are similar to theirs. Just like product managers everywhere, food product managers are under pressure to look at their product development definition in order to find ways to boost their profits. They think that they may have found a way to make this happen.