Those of us who are in our 30s and 40s undoubtedly recall the halcyon days when we would head off to the local Blockbuster Video store in order to rent a movie or game for the evening. We would eagerly anticipate the latest releases and if we were lucky enough, we might have even been able to grab such a film before it went out of stock. Of course, Blockbuster is nothing more than a hazy memory for many of us at this point. While it can be argued that there were many reasons behind its ultimate demise, one of the most important factors involved the development of the online store. These virtual retail portals changed the entire film industry forever and they are continuing to exert an influence. So, with the revelation this week that one Blockbuster outlet remains (in Oregon, USA) let’s take a quick look at how Blockbuster failed to meet the mark as well as what the future of the movie sector has in store. 

A Lack of Foresight 

One of the most common errors to make within the world of business is to assume that customer loyalty trumps innovation and convenience. In other words, some experts feel that Blockbuster executives falsely believed that the brand presence of their franchise was far greater than the influence of a fledgling online community. Even when Netflix first appeared, this stubborn belief persisted. 

The second primary mistake was that Blockbuster failed to capitalise upon the opportunities within the online retail sector. While they did indeed take a short foray into the concept of virtual sales, the fact of the matter is that the process was obtuse, inconvenient, costly, and confusing to the client. This is actually quite a tragedy, for they would have done exceedingly well if they chose to adopt the model espoused by Netflix and other portals such as YouTube rentals. 

Failing to Follow their Target Audience 

It did not take a marketing genius to appreciate that the film demographic was changing. The emergence of the digital age took a huge toll on cinema ticket sales, so why would this have been any different when referring to physical movie rentals? The fact of the matter is that the analysts at Blockbuster failed to note a few key points: 

  • Customers were beginning to prefer convenience over tradition.

  • Users will always migrate to a system which offers the same services at lower prices.

  • The online retail community offers far more variety when compared to a brick-and-mortar outlet. 

We now need to take these observations a step further. Individuals are beginning to use e-commerce software solutions such as those provided by Shopify to market their very own products and services. It should therefore not be too long before we begin to see even more independent film rental portals emerging from the digital woodwork. 

Is the era of the physical video rental store finally over? While a few stragglers may remain, the undeniable fact is that the digital age has forever changed the entire film and movie industry.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle