Pramod Arora, the group president of PVR, one of India’s largest chains of multiplex cinemas, talks about the market.
Has the slowdown in economic growth in India had any effect on cinemas?
The discretionary spend on the entertainment side has not reduced in spite of the slowdown — in fact it has increased. To some extent, if they are gloomy, if someone has not made as much money, they end up seeing another movie just to come out of that gloom. On the other side of the slowdown, yes it has affected us. While potentially we could have done about 200 screens per annum, we are just able to do about 80 or 90 screens per annum. This is because the people who are creating this retail infrastructure, the shopping centre developers, they have been hit by the slowdown, due to which they are unable to get money and take forward their construction in the designated time that they were supposed to do it.
What is the Indian cinema-goer today typically looking for?
Indians are far more demanding vis-à-vis any consumer that exists in any other part of the world. In India, we really have to go an extra mile to get our consumers to the cinemas. We need to offer a choice of eatables which is to their palette. We’re not only about cola and popcorn. It’s about the palette, which varies every 10 miles and needs to be serviced in these cinemas. If a person is living in south India and there’s a cinema there, it needs to be serviced with south Indian food, which could be idlis, dosas, and so on.
What else do they expect?
The average Indian wants to be serviced at his seat as if he’s sitting in a restaurant. Other than that, on your mobile app you can order food and pay for it and it will get delivered to your seat. The consumer profiling in India varies dramatically. You need to offer a ticket which could be US$1 and there are very many consumers who are willing to pay $20 to see a movie. In terms of digital strategy, they are looking for a lot of convenience — they want the tickets to be available right at their doorstep. They want to be able to print their ticket at home and walk in effortlessly into the cinemas.
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