Some very disturbing number have emerged this week regarding Blu-ray and the fact that a majority of HDTV users don’t even know about the format. According to NPD’s latest customer awareness survey, only 45% of HDTV owners are “familiar” with Blu-ray, which is only up 10% from last year. This means that over half the people that should know about Blu-ray aren’t even familiar with it! With such a small increase over last year, it is clear that the marketing behind Blu-ray is only marginally effective. If those numbers weren’t ugly enough, only 9% of that 45% have any plans to purchase a Blu-ray player. Out of 4 million potential customers, that is a pathetic number.
Since the end of the format war earlier this year, the amount of press about Blu-ray has dropped considerably. While this has not helped their cause, it is far from the primary cause of adoption problem that Blu-ray is facing. While I do believe that Blu-ray player price point is a large problem with blu-ray, that would only help to increase that 9% of people who know about Blu-ray and plan to purchase it in the near future. This is only part of the battle. Finding a lower price point around the $250 range or lower would do a great service to help improve that miserably low percentage, but that still does little to help the awareness problem that the format is suffering from.
Sony and the other backers of Blu-ray need a massive awareness campaign similar to that of the digital tv switchover if they expect to get the word about about their great format. Saying that a movie is coming out on both DVD and Blu-ray at the end of a commercial is not enough. Commercials talking about and showing the benefit of the format, especially on channels that broadcast in HD would be a great start, but you cant stop there. Work with stores such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy to create large in-store displays that showcase the benefit of Blu-ray over the DVD format.
Last, I believe that a solid online presence is a key to attracting many people who may be on the fence about purchasing one of the new players. When I do a Google search on “Blu-ray”, the top results do not come from the group behind Blu-ray! There isn’t even any sponsored ads to help point potential customers to the home of Blu-ray. By having a strong online presence, the Blu-ray association can more easily control what users see when they look for Blu-ray technology. While ads and a high search engine ranking will help considerably, they need to take advantage of word of mouth. Utilizing services such as Facebook, Twitter and others will greatly help their word-of-mouth campaign to get people talking about the format. Becoming an ally of the blogosphere would greatly help as well. It is better to be on the good side of the blogosphere than its bad side.
Those are just a few ideas that would greatly increase the adoption rate of Blu-ray and avoid the problem of many customers skipping over the format because they don’t think they need it.
If the Blu-ray backers can market the format properly, they will see great success. If they don’t, they will see very slow rates of growth and will lose many potential customers.