While DVD emporiums implode all around us, Redbox is blowing up.
January 9, 2012
Blockbuster and Borders are history for obvious reasons. Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and other content purveyors are better, delivering films to your computer or mailbox for just a few bucks. In addition, cable continues to improve its video-on-demand. Being a horror aficionado, I’ve been amazed at what I can get via IFC films, which is part of my cable package. In the past, I’ve used niche providers to obtain obscure and/or cult films but more and more I’m finding what I want from Netflix and Amazon, often by just selecting VOD on my remote.
And then there is the phenomena called Redbox. You’ve seen them. They’re those, well, red boxes parked in front of Jewel Foods, Walgreen’s or 7-11. They are like ATM’s for DVD’s.
When I first came across a Redbox I scoffed. I figured only people living on the margins would have use for them: those poor unfortunates who didn’t have cable and/or personal computers, the type of person who buys pre-paid cell phones.
I figured wrong. According to the website, there are 28,000 Redbox units nationwide and that number is growing by the day. Without knowing much about the company, or, for that matter, having ever seen an ad for them, I do see something more conclusive: Customers. Lots of them. Fact is, every time I run into a 7-11 for my Zero Calorie Monster fix, I see people lining up in front of a Redbox.
This evening, at a 7-11 in the trendy, bustling Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago I witnessed a group of teenagers selecting movies; I saw a young couple picking up a film for date night; I saw an older pair choosing their weekend entertainment; I saw a guy just like me renting “Cowboys and Aliens.” Ultimately, what I saw were dollar signs.
But shouldn’t Redbox be doomed? I mean, what’s the difference between marching into a Blockbuster versus hitting a Redbox? And what about the trendy couple hopping out of a Range Rover to pick up a copy of “The Debt.” It’s not like they don’t have computers or cable.
Is Redbox cheaper? Maybe a little. Is it easier? Debatable. My hunch: the notion of vending a movie opens a loophole to conventional wisdom. The brand taps into something in our DNA (but what?), prompting us to purchase from them instead of elsewhere. Whatever it is, Redbox is kicking ass. They are a legitimate success story in a time and space mired by failures.
Obviously, the key for them will be maintaining success as DVD’s go bye bye. My guess is Redbox already has a plan and that it contains a streaming video solution taking advantage of the same impulse-buying mechanism that drives the brand now. Amazon, Netflix and iTunes may think they’ve cornered the market but I wouldn’t count Redbox out. Not while they’re still on every corner.
As for an ad campaign, it appears one is on the way: Redbox campaign in works.