Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Demise of HMV: Part 2 - Being Indistinct

We used to have a Virgin in town. Then Virgin became Zavvi, Zavvi went bust and shortly afterwards became an HMV. But nothing changed. Apart from a change in branding and colours the set up was exactly the same. 'Sale' items close to the door, a not particularly easy to navigate layout. It was probably the same racks and tills as the Virgin ones all those months before.

This fact highlights two big problems with HMV's strategy. Firstly, they failed to remember that Zavvi went bust. Why do everything the same as a company selling the same stuff as you that has just failed? Perhaps the people at the to assumed Zavvi's customer's would come over to them, and in small town's like mine they probably did to a certain extent. But no-one seems to have questioned why Zavvi went bust (aside from blaming the internet).

More importantly it highlights HMV's failure to be distinct. What did they stand for. Some of those questions I want to look at in the area of their vision, but even when compared to companies that shared their vision (such as Virgin/Zavvi) how was HMV any different. Occasionally it got box set deals that no-one else did, but otherwise there was no craft, innovation or identity to their sales. They weren't cheap enough to beat Amazon and iTunes. They lacked the love of their product like the record shops they had ousted.

This really left them only three markets - technophobes, those buying £3 DVDs who couldn't be bothered to see if Amazon did it 50p cheaper, and people buying presents at the last minute. Those are three fairly small markets, and shrinking ones at that.

Or look at it another way. Back in the days when a decent town centre might have an HMV, a Zavvi and an MVC/Andy's records, what proportion of customers cared which they were in? Once the Internet could do snigger selection quicker then without being in any way distinct, HMV were done for.

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