Megahits thrive on retail diversity

Great retailing has always been simple - give customers the greatest opportunity to get hold of your product when they want it and you maximise the chances of a sale. Reducing these opportunities will diminish the likelihood of a sale.

At ERA we represent retail diversity, our membership is at an all-time high with retail models continually shifting and reshaping to mirror changes in consumer habits. The wealth of diversity within entertainment retail is what drives continual growth in what is now a £7.5bn sector.

Customer segmentation is making it ever more challenging for studios, record labels and games publishers to reach consumers but ERA feel strongly that complex release strategies, which reduce customer touch points is not the answer.

Kanye’s 2016 exclusive Tidal release Life of Pablo is one such case in point. As marketing hype goes, it was a phenomenal success breaking global streaming records.  But confusion around the launch and frustration from non-Tidal customers resulted in a reported 500,000 illegal downloads of the album after day one. Despite declaring it would “never, never, never be on Apple” Kanye’s decision to release on Spotify, Google Play and Apple weeks later is telling. As a digital only release, it is hard to quantify exactly how many sales have been jeopardised but with 25% of music fans still choosing physical as a default choice, you can bet this ran into many thousands of lost sales.

What ERA’s members do know is that Kanye’s original release strategy would have catered for his motivated fanbase but leaving out any opportunity to sell Life of Pablo on any other platforms and forgoing any physical sales altogether was short-sighted especially with the regards to the longtail and mainstream consumer.

Yes, digital models are responsible for over three quarters of the total entertainment spend but that still leaves £1.8bn worth of the industry’s revenues generated by physical formats found in high street specialists, supermarkets, independents and physical online retailers.

Gone of the days of a one size fits all release strategy. In order to target 100% of the value chain, suppliers are having to work harder and longer to reach audiences at different entry points. George Ezra’s Staying at Tamara’s is a textbook sustained album release that first hooked the streaming generation through a singles strategy followed months later by high profile album promo TV appearances to drive ownership and scoop up the more casual physical buyers that span grocery, independents, online physical and non-traditional retailers such a petrol stations and fashion chains. Megahits thrive on retail diversity, which explains why the album remained in the Top 3 a whole year after its initial release.

Releasing across all formats not only makes commercial sense for each release but it also builds customer loyalty and trust in a variety of formats. Across music, games and video the industry continues to cause customer confusion and dissatisfaction by varied windowing, platform and format exclusives, multiple SKUs and a general lack of consistency. It is no wonder, consumers are telling us they are confused.

Clearing up some of this confusion is vital as an industry or we run the risk of neglecting segments of the value chain. ERA’s belief is that nurturing and maintaining a diverse retail landscape remains key to maximising access and choice for customers.


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