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Study: Interactive DVD Growth Part of National Hiving Trend

21 Aug, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

And you thought it was just bonus features and a killer release slate driving the DVD frenzy.

Not so, according to J. Walker Smith, president of Chapel Hill, N.C.-based market trend analyst firm Yankelovich, who said the increase in DVD sales and rentals owes to a broader social trend in America: “Hiving.”

Unlike cocooning, in which Americans sought to fortress themselves against the outside world and unplug from their external lives, “A hive is a home designed to open out and facilitate connection.”

Hiving includes nest-feathering activities that fuel popularity of home improvement shows and products; participation in neighborhood watches and “lifestyle villages”; sales of wireless phone “family plans”; and a resurgence of board and table games.

“When you look at something like DVD players, it strikes us that the spike in sales of DVD players during the Christmas seasons of 2001 and 2002 is more than just the progress of the technology,” Smith said. “It's a desire of people to find products or entertainment that allow them to reengage with other people. Board games are one of those things. DVD sales are another opportunity for that.”

Smith believes the trend started before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but those events have heightened the trend.

“Immediately after Sept. 11, it was about people wanting to stay home, reconnect with family and have the safety of a home environment,” he said. “They sit down and watch a movie with their family, or they have their friends over. It's not just a solitary experience.”

The key is to market the interactive, social aspects of DVD, like the opportunity that games and activities on Buena Vista's Stitch: The Movie or Finding Nemo (Nov. 4) or Dreamworks' Shrek or Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (Nov. 18) offer for parents to play with their children instead of using programming as a babysitter.

“The bigger opportunity is to look at DVDs as one of those things that people can use to reconnect with each other. That's where there is a bigger upside opportunity for the business,” Smith said. “It's still being sold as a technology and not from the broader lifestyle perspective. There is a lot to the technology that is not being utilized to improve the lifestyle experience. It's being sold as a replacement for the VCR. You can do more things with the technology than that.”

From a marketing standpoint, “I'm going to market DVD players on the basis of their ability to bring people together. I'm going to use some of the features that bring people together, in a family context and in a friendly competitive context with friends and neighbors.

“You have a form of entertainment there that can be extended beyond just going to the movie. Having a different social setting in which you watch the movie makes it a different experience,” Smith said. “You need to think about it as another way to interact with your friends.”

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