State of the British high street
Its was a sad day, when HMV announced profit warnings for their stores, that seem destined for the Woolworths wagon.
The graph doesn’t make for exciting reading, and gaining a 2 month extension from the banks doesnt seem to give them much breathing space.
We are constantly evaluating and evolving our thinking here at Realise, whether its a brand, a business idea, a product or even a website, to suit the surrounding environment, the economy, the demand, and of course the current supply, and HMV seem to be completely missing the point.
17 years ago when iTunes launched its store, hmv developed its logo to include its website, as above. Hardly an aggressive twist to combat the surge to Apple and iTunes. Naturally HMV felt the need to sell iPods, and at some point they decided to sell mp3 tracks on their site, and changed the site to ‘HMV Digital’.
The point however is that their weakness is their stores. Aside from the fact that a fraction of people shop in High Streets like they did 10 years ago, HMV stores haven’t changed since the 80s. Cluttered dark outlets, a few listening posts, a row of tills, and some chart lists and posters for sale; sometimes the odd tshirt. This description goes just as well to today’s experience as it did 30 years ago. How does this connect to the shopper of 2011?
A quick poll around the office proved that none of us even knew about the HMV ‘digital’ website and its capabilities. Added to that, none of us had been in an HMV for many months, sometimes years.
It’s critical to adapt in today’s world more than ever, and everybody knows how difficult it is to change, even with a small idea or business, but HMV seem stuck and aren’t focussing on the key issues, their stores, and how to attract today’s key music and film fans. They almost certainly can’t compete online, but they have a firm grasp on the High Street space, so why not capitalise on this, and regain a niche? Their current decision has been to spend a small fortune on this development of their logo, to make it ‘contemporary’. A word used to mean ‘help, please like this’ by far too many marketing gurus gone by.
What they’re missing is that the old logo from 80 years ago would be fine, if only they tackled the problem of the HMV ‘experience’. Ask some teenagers and 20 somethings what they want in HMV: and not just the vinyl lovers. Ask the man looking for the Blu-Ray box set, the lady looking for a lovesong collection, the lad searching for the latest DS game release. Simple evaluation of the market to assess the solution, not guesswork. I’m not saying they wont be doing this, but sometimes its reading the results and asking the obvious questions that give the most obvious answers. “Why aren’t you coming into HMV today?” “When did you last buy something from HMV?” etc etc.
It will be a real shame if HMV can’t turn things around: an iconic brand, and one that we all remember. Maybe the high street is changing too quickly for an amorphous mass like HMV to keep up. Who knows, but it would be good to see them try.