Wednesday, February 18, 2009

DVD Sales Officially in a Slump, D'OH!

I've been complaining for what seems like years now about the LACK of choice/variety in DVD product in-stock on the shelves at brick and mortar stores. And now I'm seeing the economic doom and gloom reports turning, finally, to the DVD market place. But I'm not sure the authors really get it. Here's one of many similar banner headlines I've been seeing: DVD sales plummet, Blu-ray unable to save the day

Really? You're going to blame this all on Blu-Ray?

Some choice comments from the article: "The numbers for 2008 are in and they don't look good: DVD sales are now showing the first signs that they're about to go into free-fall, just like sales of CDs did a few years ago. <…> DVD's purported savior -- Blu-ray -- has been unable to rise to the rescue so far. Blu-ray (and leftover HD DVD) disc sales <…> [don't] nearly make up for the loss in sales of DVD media. Since Blu-ray discs are more expensive than DVDs, the overall unit sales decline is even more worrisome for Hollywood <…> Naturally, the recession is being targeted as the culprit for all the bad news, but pundits say other factors are at play."

No sh^t Sherlock! There's plenty of other reasons, starting with the fact retailers made a choice to NOT STOCK certain DVD product, thus effectively closing out a section of the market. This has nothing to do with Blu-Ray, and yet everything to do with Blu-Ray, but not in the way these articles insinuate. They make it sound like it's all about the lack of Blu-Ray sales but that's not it at all.

Consumers can't buy something if brick and mortar stores refuse to stock it. HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs were competing for space with standard def DVD. Long before Blu-Ray won over HD-DVD retailers started clearing shelf space to give room over to these competing formats, but the offerings were all the same boring standard Hollywood titles. The only difference was often the price, with the new formats costing a heck of a lot more than a DVD. That set the HD formats up as a high end niche. Not exactly a smart move to bank on a niche market during a economic downturn but I suppose it makes as much sense as blaming lack of sales for loss of projected profit. And what if a consumer didn't want to double or triple dip on a movie or didn't care for the title of the week Hollywood was dumping on the market?

They were S-O-L. Why? For starters the corporations have plunked down millions, if not billions, in marketing to convince consumers that the older formats were crap. This worked when they wanted to phase out VHS in favor of DVD. And they had a great worm to dangle, better picture and sound quality! Problem is we, the people, have stopped biting. Enough is enough! We're tired of corporations playing Trick or Treat with us. To blame consumers for the loss of projected corporate profits is B-S! Consumers have become wise to these 10-year tech switch out plans and, frankly, are sick of having to re-buy their stuff. One day the world may become a socialist corporate state but we're not living in that neo Maoist/Socialist paradise of enforced consumerism, yet.

More simply the loss of sales is about a lack of choice. I can't begin to count the times I've walked OUT of a Borders with an 30% off coupon in my pocket because I could NOT find anything on my list of things I WANTED to buy; not a book, a CD, or DVD. That is criminal neglect of customer's needs and wants on the part of the retailer. Retailers are the real culprit in this "poor sales" debacle. They set themselves up for failure alas they continue down the path to destruction. And Best Buy seems to be leading the Charge of the Light-headed Brigade. Viz:

Best Buy to Use Fewer Movie Vendors

Brilliant! Your model of stocking shelves with new releases for a week or two then clearing the shelves for the next batch, thus cutting out the price of warehousing, and thus the investment having a vested interest in caring about stock engenders, isn't working so let's just cut back on the number of titles we're going to stock. Never mind the fact I've been in stores asking for a title and told to just DOWNLOAD it off the Internet. Not buy it through the Best Buy web site but DOWNLOAD IT! When you have people working in your store advocating piracy over buying DVDs because you wont stock an item there's something wrong. But, hey, who cares right?

I, YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMER, DO THAT'S WHO! If you don't stock it then consumers can't buy it! If consumers can't find it in your store then don't blame them for your lack of sales. You want to know who to blame? Look in the mirror.

Best Buy (and all you other retailers holding on the by the skin of your teeth) if you learn NOTHING from the failure of your competitor Circuit City take this to heart: Stupid is as stupid does.

Call me crazy but I'd really rather buy DVDs in a physical brick and mortar store. I don't need to, I don't have to, but I want to. But if you're going to go out of your way to make my shopping experience a hassle then there's always online vendors. Who'd you rather get my money?

Sometimes I wonder at the debit of intelligence in the retail market. Luckily there is some intelligence out there. Witness this quote attributed to producer Bill Mechanic: "You can't flood the market with every TV show, every reality show, and dump your library into the market all at one time and not have some kind of game plan in terms of pricing."

Amen brother!

The above was from this article: Bill Mechanic Talks About the Decline of DVD Sales. However the same site also has the following article: DVD Sales Way Down; High-Def Slow to Rescue; which states, in part, that:

"The latest sales numbers are not pretty—and they’re going to get worse. Is it the recession, or a much deeper problem? <…> For years now, there’s been rumbling that the DVD market – the studios’ most reliable and robust cash cow – has been flattening, with Hollywood treating the news like a 4.1 level earthquake in Corona. <…> And the introduction of high-definition DVDs is not proving to be the saving grace that studios had prayed for."


Honestly. .

Look the answer is simple. Don't bite the hand that feeds you. Retailers you don't want to warehouse stuff, fine, the economy is bad and we all understand the need for frugality. But here's the thing. You need to make an effort to keep consumers from walking out the door. That means hiring more than work a week or two minimum wage idiots who get angry when consumers ask them for something. Inspire loyalty in your work force. They are the face of your company. I, as a consumer, should NEVER be told by one of your employees to download a movie and burn it to DVD, ever. If you don't have a title in stock that employee should make every effort to get it for me, whether by special order or by checking on the in-store computer to see what, if any, other stores have it in stock.

Do you understand that I have money and actually want to spend it but can't if you don't actually stock the items I want?

Stop playing the blame game. Blu-ray has nothing to do with it. It's your business model. Fix it!

Thank you very much.


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

1 comment:

Jameson T. Caine said...

Goodness, I could not agree more. I don't even bother with best Buy anymore because I know they won't have the cult and/or B-movie that I am looking to purchase.