The More Things Change …14 Sep, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner
Blockbuster Video is in a whirlwind of changes to reposition going into the fourth quarter and, at least in Southern California, it looks pretty good so far.
It's tough to tell how any new venture will perform, even when it is part of an old venture. But today's announcement about 77 new Game Rush store-in-stores here and 400 nationwide by the end of the year looks like a step in the right direction. Gaming is a big deal in my neck of the woods, and I expect those Game Rushes to do brisk business.
The movie-trading model, which turned up at Blockbusters in my area right before Labor Day in a spate of flash resets, is a little dicier, mainly because the terms are not as parallel as those in the game space.
In other areas it may be different, but around here consumers have a lot of choices of where to take old DVDs to trade or sell them. Some of those places pay cash, not just store credit. But Blockbuster may be able to make up for that with better marketing — several of the places that pay cash for DVDs and games aren't very good about advertising it. Not that they are less enthusiastic about doing it, but you don't see or hear a lot of TV or radio promotion. That kind of exposure, if Big Blue starts doing it, could build a valuable identity that other chains are not really pursuing. At least not yet.
Mass merchants have forced entertainment specialists into a paradox of increasing both specialization and product diversity. Game and music stores are becoming movie stores, movie stores are becoming one-stop entertainment stores. They're all trying so hard to differentiate themselves that, for the most part, it seems to be backfiring as everyone grabs for a share of whatever is working for someone else.
Nobody can blame a business for moving into areas that are generating money. That's why they call it a business. But I can't help wondering when the market will reach a sort of gray saturation in which all those efforts to offer something new and look different end up making everyone look the same.