How Secret Cinema used consumer data to design a new global product

Unable to operate during the pandemic, cult entertainment brand Secret Cinema developed a new global digital offering.

Secret Cinema was one of many brands hit hard by Covid-19. Its signature live immersive showings of popular films and television shows were brought to a standstill throughout the majority of the pandemic.

In response, the creative minds behind the brand thought about how they could adapt the concept into an online offering. Marketing Director Ayomi Rupasinghe spoke about how her team validated their ideas using Attest in a session at the Festival of Marketing. You can read some of the highlights right here… 

A digital innovation

Secret Cinema’s live shows usually take place in London or Los Angeles, but the brand’s new ‘virtual live’ offering is designed to be enjoyed from anywhere. The concept combines technical features (like binaural sound) and special effects (like face filters and voice modulators) with live actor interactions to provide an immersive, interactive experience for online participants. 

While Secret Cinema will continue to run live shows now that IRL events are possible again, they will do so alongside digital experiences. According to Rupasinghe, this will give consumers the flexibility they want, as well as open up access to global audiences.

Connecting with people online has become part of our behaviour now, and it’s going to continue as people work from home and find it a lot easier to connect online.

Ayomi Rupasinghe, Marketing Director, Secret Cinema

“With the gradual reopening of the world, we have had to pivot and we have had to learn new behaviours, some of which are here to stay,” she says. “Connecting with people online has become part of our behaviour now, and it’s going to continue as people work from home and find it a lot easier to connect online.” 

When Rupasinghe and the team at Secret Cinema were developing the new digital platform, they used Attest to explore how people would like to interact with a virtual version of Secret Cinema. They also used consumer data to validate elements like timeslots, devices, age ranges and pricing. The research was run across different markets, since audiences in locations around the world will be able to attend. 

Finding out what fans love

Beyond helping with the nitty gritty details of their projects, Secret Cinema also uses Attest to inspire the content. Rupasinghe says choosing the right film or TV show to screen is essential as the title is the key selling point.

“Testing demand and potential audience size for individual titles is really important, so we aggregate as much data as we can on these, looking at various sources, like rankings, reviews and sentiment,” she says.

“We use previous productions to benchmark them, so we can rank them against each other to understand demand, and help us to gauge where it would scale – or understand if we need to pivot into another area. It’s fundamental to understand this before we launch a production because it feeds so much into targets and into budgets.”

We will test drivers, messages, characters and locations, so we can understand what it is that fans love about the title.

Ayomi Rupasinghe, Marketing Director, Secret Cinema

Once the team have decided which title to screen based on the data, they go back to Attest’s audience of 110 million consumers in 49 markets to find out how they should bring the event to life for maximum appeal. 

“We will then test drivers, messages, characters and locations, so we can understand what it is that fans love about the title, and how we can use that to develop and form our content strategy.”

This is particularly important when working with older franchises, because there tends to be less data about them, making it harder to understand what people loved about them. Blockbusters like Blade Runner, Casino Royale and Moulin Rouge have been amongst Secret Cinema’s most popular titles. 

Trying new things

Secret Cinema’s first live virtual experience Ghostbusters: The Gates of Gozer, starts in December for UK and US audiences. It’s hoped that the experience will attract people who wouldn’t normally play online games and that it will help to bring friends and family together from disparate locations, as it’s designed to be played in teams of six. 

Rupasinghe says it’s a great time for brands to try new things such as this, and advises them to take advantage of every data point possible to innovate based on real insights.

It’s the marketers job to go back to the drawing board, to understand and respond to the changes in their target customers.

Ayomi Rupasinghe, Marketing Director, Secret Cinema

“Consumers are more open to different ways of living and different ways of working,” she says. “This also brings with it new sensitivities and considerations. I think it’s the job of the marketer to go back to the drawing board, to understand and respond to the changes in their target customers, because we’re just not the same people that we were two years ago. The consumer landscape is still changing, so this is a great time to just try new things.”

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Bel Booker

Senior Content Writer 

Bel has a background in newspaper and magazine journalism but loves to geek-out with Attest consumer data to write in-depth reports. Inherently nosy, she's endlessly excited to pose questions to Attest's audience of 100m global consumers. She also likes cake.

See all articles by Bel