Is Ster Kinekor ripping us off?

A trip to a local cinema for most constitutes a treat. Armed with an overly spiced buttery box of popcorn and a soda, you’re good to go. Or at least, that was the case. But it seems consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with exorbitant movie snack prices, and venting their anger on Ster Kinekor’s social media pages.

One customer, Cindy-Ann Oldale, stated on Facebook: “Ludricious snack prices. That’s why I hardly ever go. Rip off. Paid R50 for a small coke and popcorn.”

Another customer, Greg Orrell, took to Facebook, ranting: “I grew up going to a number of movies every month. Keep ripping people off with your ‘snacks’ and you’ll be lucky to see any of our family even once in year. R31.90 for machine coke? R43 for a box of smarties. What’s the thinking you guys?”

These are just a few of the comments that have been shared across Ster Kinekor’s social media platforms of late. Begging the question, are these consumers onto something or are these prices justified?

Moneybags journalist, Danielle Van Wyk, compares the price of snack items at a local Ster Kinekor cinema to the same items at a local Pick n Pay. See below:

ster kinekor table

Ster Kinekor’s responseBringing the price difference between the two to R57.84. While this number might sound insignificant to some, four movie outings in a month with you buying snacks from the cinema as opposed to your local store, would see you spending R231.36. This, added to the price of a movie ticket which averages around R68.50, could see you spending R657.20 monthly per person. A pretty steep knock for most.

“Much like theatres, live music venues, sporting stadiums, clubs and restaurants, and the like, Ster-Kinekor charges a premium for snacks purchased at its cinemas – this is an established business practice within the entertainment industry,” notes Bradley Knowles, acting marketing executive of Ster-Kinekor Theatres.

Knowles further explains that many of the items sold at the snack kiosks at the various cinema locations are exclusive to the cinema. This includes their Slush puppies, chocolates and popcorn kernels, which are ‘proprietary to Ster-Kinekor.’

“As a result, these products carry a premium price. And, as our customers will attest to, watching a movie in a cinema without the ubiquitous soft drink and popcorn treat is just not the same,” adds Knowles.

Furthermore the choice to buy catering items is fully the customers, remarked Knowles. “Customers make [the choice] of their own free will: as such, people are also free to choose not to buy any items.

“As with all business models, Ster-Kinekor is expected to declare an annual profit. However, we do also strive to provide our customers with a fair value proposition that ensures a win-win situation for both the customer and the company. As such, we are constantly seeking innovative ways to ensure our customers do enjoy great value at our cinemas – the benefits of the SK Club loyalty programme being a case in point, where points towards a free movie ticket are earned when buying tickets or catering items – to ensure an overall great experience,” says Knowles.

Ster Kinekor loyalty rewards programme

Movie goers are privy to discounts and benefits through the membership of Ster Kinekor and selected partners’ loyalty programmes.

“The SK Club members enjoy half-price movies on Tuesdays, the chance to earn points with catering combos and earn double points on Thursdays, exciting competitions and promotions, and invitations to exclusive events. Every 1000 points earned earns the member a free movie ticket,” explained Knowles.

Ster Kinekor also has ties with Edgars, which sees members enjoying a ‘buy one get one free’ ticket special per club member, per day.

Another popular partnership with Discovery, allows for “Kids under 18 to enjoy movies for free until 7pm with Discovery’s Vitality programme, and all members enjoy reduced tickets prices on a daily basis,” highlights Knowles.

Other discounts are made available through separate rewards programmes. One such programme is offered by Monte Casino. This sees customers applying for a card through the casino and enjoying movies with a discount of up to 60%.

While entertainment is expensive, there are some ways to reduce them with the help of loyalty programmes, one just has to look around. That, or simply wait for the DVD.