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DVD Succeeds Because it Mimics Our Life Cycles

26 Nov, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

I've written before on how I am clearing out the junk vault (aka garage) by putting stuff on eBay. It's liberating to pack stuff off to happy buyers and that isn't an accident, it's a life stage.

Our society is built around ownership. I believe that's one of the pillars of DVD's success – it's priced at a low entry point so lots of people can get in on it. But there's more to it than that. Marketing gurus measure consumer life cycles like release windows.

The theory goes that consumers are buying goods in their 20s and 30s; then in the 40s people have made most of their major hard purchases and there's a shift to buying services. Finally, at whatever is retirement age, thery go to "buying experiences" -- gourmet food, travel, Broadway shows and spa weekends.

DVD straddles those boundaries.

I was exchanging Christmas lists with family by e-mail the other day and my sister-in-law Lisa inadvertently summed it up: "DVDs are the best gift for me since I can't think of much else I want or need." She and I are great fans of horror movies from classic to schlock, as well as what I like to call Train Wreck Video -- movies so bad you have to watch, like anything by Ed Wood. (Movies so bad Image has an awesome boxed set called The Worst of Ed Wood, which they tell me is a "perennial favorite," no doubt because of people like me and Lisa.) We speak a common movie language.

My dad is another story. I put him onto eBay in the hope he would follow my lead and clear his junk vault, but so far he's only buying. I think he's trying to preserve his youth and avoid confronting mortality through acquisition, an almost superstitious belief that as long as he has things to do and watch he can't get sick or die.

Maybe he'll come around. But in the meantime, his latest purchase was a DVD player, his first real foray into 21st Century home entertainment technology. Probably the best I'll get in the way of his following my leads. Then again, I partly got the schlock horror and creature feature thing from him.

See what I mean? One thing we all have in common is consuming home entertainment. Even those of us who are sliding out of the major purchase stage can appreciate a slender little disc with hours of diversion on it. It's compact and it covers all the consumer bases: it is all at once goods, a service and, if it's done well, it's an experience.

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