I just finished watching Moneyball, a story about a washed up baseball player that had tons of potential, but no delivery, and his discovery of a man and a methodology that would change the way baseball players were evaluated, played and bought, and inevitably changed the whole game of baseball. I thought to myself, what is it that is broken with Blockbuster and would a philosophy like this change it’s direction toward positive. A revolutionary way that would take an underdog (like the Oakland A’s) make a total turnaround… One that would make no sense to most, but when set in motion would have tremendous success and have all their competition scratching their heads …. if, in fact one, there is one.
Moneyball was based on mathematical and statistical analysis known as Sabermetrics, which weighed players on many factors and made what baseball considered losers into actual winners (when played in the right formulation).
Then I considered the fact that the obvious route for all movies will be online streaming, based on online experts stating that DVD’s are quickly becoming pas say. So, if that’s true, companies like Redbox and Netflix are only living on borrowed time.
But then I asked myself a few more questions, like why it was that back when Blockbuster was at it’s peak and movie theaters started to go out of business (in favor of the the obvious convenience and economic benefits that home viewing offered), that suddenly movie theaters made a resurgence and recovery, in spite of their inconvenience, high prices, etc?
Then a broader question, why do people still love to shop in stores when so many things are available online, or why do we work out in filthy gyms?
There is in fact a social aspect, a social need, if you will, that is not met when we are locked up in our homes. We, as humans, need the company of others, even if it’s just passerby’s. We like to get in on the gossip, hear what others are commenting on, what they like, and oddly enough this peaks our interest more that an online article would.
So, if Blockbuster is going to survive, the answer is not to capture more Redbox customers or be another Netflix, the real answer is to recapture the romanticism that enticed customers in the past, the social-ability aspect, the charm and the fun of going to the in-store Blockbuster video library and overturning an unexpected gem. Being greeted with exceptional customer service and being helped by a human that listens and understands your needs and helps you make decisions. Not through sales pressure, but by getting to know you and catering to your specific needs.
So the question in my mind is, as a company (Blockbuster) are we killing the one thing that will make us inevitably survive? Are we cutting off the hand that feeds us, by killing so many of our stores? Shouldn’t we also open new stores and give them a fresh look? This will turn peoples assumptions on their head, if we do.
My recommendation: For Blockbuster to survive we, like the theaters of old, must re-capture the social fun and excitement that once gained our original customer base, making experiences fun, increasing better customer service, building a wider library of movies not found elsewhere. Making the customers feel like they are really cared for and catered to. Getting to know their wants and needs. Using social media platforms to capture data, and allow our customers to tell us how to improve store experiences…
The understood reality is that stores are closing because they are upside down, our infrastructure and store management is old hat and lack of traffic is killing them one-by-one. But having the “me too” attitude, in my mind, is the wrong way to go. Improving what we’ve already got may be the only and inevitably the best solution!
I feel this needs to be explored much further.