Let’s examine something that has been bothering me for a little while. I’ve been renting my movies from Blockbuster and Redbox for years, but now my local Blockbuster store is closing. When I’ve expressed this sadness to friends and colleagues, people just tell me to get Netflix.
Let’s dig quickly into the psychology behind the Netflix/Blockbuster/Redbox choice that each of us has been making. Now, I’m a big fan of technology, but it has its limitations. One of those limitations is that technology can isolate people from the real world. I know all you social media zealots and self-proclaimed experts out there are shouting ‘heresy’ back at me, but hey, that’s why there is a comments box down at the bottom of each article here—for people to engage in a wee bit of dialog.
While social media does serve to connect people, it also serves to disconnect them. To read more on the double-edged impact of social media you might want to check out the book Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other by Dr. Sherry Turkle.
Layered on top of the tensions between technology, psychology and social interaction is that people are as different as they are the same. As much as we like to think we’re all individuals, when it comes to market dynamics, we tend to be different. That’s why we segment our customers into groups for marketing purposes, test for personality types in team situations, and create separate brands for different groups of customers.
Given all of this, there is an impact of Blockbuster going out of business that I don’t think many people are anticipating, and that is the likelihood that Blockbuster’s demise will actually accelerate the demise of Redbox. This is because, unlike the assumption most people would make, Blockbuster and Redbox are more complements than substitutes. When Redbox emerged people used it as an arbitrage against Blockbuster to get cheaper rentals from Redbox while still retaining the pleasure of physical browsing and the selection advantage Blockbuster provides over Redbox.
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