When last week’s news came out that Blockbuster were launching a temporary pop-up version of their video rental store in East London to celebrate the release of Deadpool 2, we felt a collective shudder go through our bodies. We still can’t comprehend how an organisation of the size and stature of Blockbuster Video could mess it up quite so badly.
In its heyday in the 1990s, Blockbuster Video had 9000 stores worldwide, 528 in the UK and was the destination to get your “movie fix”. Twenty years later and there is one store left on the entire globe, a town called Bend in Oregon, where access to the internet is severely limited (which tells its own story).
So where did it all go wrong?
- It was arrogant – It was actually much earlier than its actual demise that Blockbuster Video stopped selling videos. DVDs had long since replaced the poor-quality video format, followed by upgrades into Blue Ray, and even games for the latest consoles. However, Blockbuster apparently felt that they did not need to update or modernise their brand. Blockbuster’s customers were members after all? It wouldn’t affect them.
- Technology evolved – The internet and broadband speeds were gathering pace, mobile devices were becoming more complex to allow consumption of digital media on the go. New brands were popping up in the marketplace to tap into the growing trend of online streaming and Blockbuster declined the option to purchase new kid on the block Netflix on more than one occasion. Again, their customers were members, this little tech start up was no threat to a global giant like Blockbuster. Was it?
- It became irrelevant – Customer demands were changing with the speed of technology. People started visiting the high street less and less and purchasing more online. People wanted to consume content as and when they wanted – either streaming or downloading and watching on the commute. Even the behaviour over the type of content was changing, with box set series booming in popularity over full length feature films. Cinemas and feature films fought back through surround sound, engaging 3D visuals and mega bucks movie franchises in a comfortable environment. Blockbuster just stayed still.
- It was far too slow to react – This latest news article surrounding Blockbuster is the first marketing campaign we can recall from them in nearly 25 years. All the signs were there but they just couldn’t see it coming. Was it too arrogant? Was it delusional? Were the director team just not very good?
So, what can we learn from all this?
- Don’t be so arrogant as to assume that your clients will always be loyal to you, if you fail to meet their evolving needs.
- Make sure you are relevant in today’s marketplace.
- Understand your competitive landscape and trends in the marketplace.
- Be responsive – act and adapt and you have a better chance of survival. Get ahead of the curve and you will thrive.
If Blockbuster was a movie, it had the opportunity to be a science fiction glimpse into the future, or a classic Rocky style underdog fights back. Unfortunately, it ended up as a bit of a horror story.
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