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Rethinking Sellthrough Marketing

17 Sep, 2012 By: Stephanie Prange

Recently, my 14-year-old daughter has been obsessed with the movie Donnie Darko, a film that’s nearly as old as she is. She first discovered it via a recommendation from a friend. Since that recommendation, she’s watched it numerous times, and I feel sure, had we not already owned that film, she would be buying it in some form — on DVD, on Blu-ray Disc or via electronic sellthrough of some kind, possibly UltraViolet.

Netflix has been at the forefront of the recommendation engine for films, albeit only for those who want to rent. Amazon, too, offers recommendations and reviews to help customers discover new content. But I think the avenues for marketing films via recommendation have only begun to be tapped.

How do we replicate the experience of having a friend suggest we watch a movie and then convert that experience into not just a one-time rental but into a purchase?

I think rental, perhaps via Netflix, may have a place in this type of marketing. Suppose my daughter had watched Donnie Darko first via Netflix — and soon found she wanted to watch it again and again. I would bet that on the umpteenth viewing she might consider purchasing that title for her Blu-ray Disc or DVD collection, especially to watch in-depth extras.

Just a thought, but might the studios look into writing some sort of marketing prompt into their deals for Netflix. Say on the second or third time one views a title, might not a prompt come up that offers viewers the option to buy that title via EST or disc, with some sort of tease about the extras.

Facebook is another for-the-most-part untapped social marketing tool. Here, the industry needs to proceed cautiously, as many Facebook users are fiercely trying to guard their privacy. But offering Facebook viewers an incentive, perhaps via an entry into a drawing for free stuff, might convince them to recommend films they like.

Like the old Breck commercial (“I tell two friends, and she tells two friends, and so on …”), social media recommendation multiplies. If our business could somehow learn to harness it, sales might multiply as well.

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