I picked up The Thing two-movie box set today on Blu today and a couple of, erm, things struck me about how the product was stacked on shelves.
I went to about three different shops before buying. Two of them were different branches of HMVs, but a strange thing bore out at all three: all shops were prominently displaying The Thing (2011) single disc edition on DVD and Blu, most had an odd copy of the two-movie box set on DVD, but no shop had the Blu box set on display.
Indeed, the only reason I was able to pick up my edition today was by asking a guy behind the counter whether the store had it, where upon my request he delved into a box behind the counter and presented it to me.
This is not a nag or a moan (I got my Blu and the staff member was helpful in pulling it out of the box) , however it does show a lack of product understanding.
The Thing double pack includes the John Carpenter original and it’s the first time the movie has been on Blu in the UK. It wasn’t available separately and being something of a fan I figured I’d pay a bit extra and get the prequel (which in all honesty I didn’t mind and thought was a bit fun).
Among horror fans, JC’s original The Thing is something of a holy grail of horror films. Given that horror fans (such as myself) are a bit geeky and care about transfer quality and aspect ratios, it’s more likely that we would be disposed to forking out for the Blu.
The above observation seemed to pass each shop by, given the way that they had stacked their shelves.
They’d also chosen to stack the DVD box set pack over the Blu version.
What’s wrong with this?
Well, those who liked The Thing (1982) would have already bought it when it came out on DVD as part of an awesome edition that included special features galore. But, chances are those that liked the first one aren’t going to be interested in the prequel in any format (yeah, yeah, but I’m the exception that proves the rule), so why bundle it with a version they would already have on DVD?
It’s highly unlikely that those who watched the prequel first and liked it would then seek out the original as part of a joint purchase. If you’re into your horror then The Thing (1982) would have been on the radar from the start.
The high-street is going through a rough time right now, but what shops have over online is the ability to develop closer and more social links with its patrons. The success of high street retail depends on staff have a working cultural knowledge of the products they’re selling. This needs to be tied to powers that allow stores to make discretionary promotions on new releases.
It would have been child’s play to mark-down the Blu-ray box set in its first week of release for the fans, just to develop long term loyalty. Hell, they could even have kept the price the same and offered me a voucher off my next Blu purchase, horror or not.
Retailers have a premium product on their hands with Blu-ray. The thing is, by not encouraging local staff or expert decisions about what to stock and how to display them, or by not creating a premium customer reward for purchasers of premium products, they’re sacrificing a major opportunity.