Given my degree it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I feel that marketing could well have made a difference to the demise of HMV. Admittedly it wouldn’t be that simple and there’s no guarantee it would have worked but they did have a chance.

I’ve been thinking about the high street a lot in the last week or so as you may have noticed. The thing that seems to have gone right over the heads of many retailers is the simple fact that the “walk in and buy one off the shelf” model is dead. Well, it’s not quite dead because it thrives online – except there one can search through a catalogue with ease and have things delivered directly. Getting out and to a shop is hassle, particularly given parking limitations/costs, public transport, and people.

So what do physical shops have on their side?

Physicality.

The problem seems to be that they haven’t bothered to consider what that actually means and more importantly what it could mean if marketed correctly.

HMV are in my mind a record shop.

I think of it that way even though they’ve basically only sold CDs whilst I’ve been an adult.

I also haven’t bought CDs since I was a teenager. The simple reasoning behind this is that CDs are just digital storage media. The data on them can be replicated easily and one recording is indistinguishable from another.

Analogue media such as vinyl records on the other hand are more of an experience. I can’t easily and accurately skip tracks and so must listen to the disc as it comes, so to speak. Their size is also excellent for artwork and prose.

I have my own turntable but I don’t have all that many records simply because I cannot find them. I’d like to own more but I just don’t see it happening any time soon.

What if HMV had positioned itself as a record shop? Marketing vinyl as music one could feel?

Browsing would actually be a sensible option as shipping vinyl isn’t all that easy. It’s also much more visually stimulating!

Then there’s the fact that one cannot currently, at least not easily, create one’s own records. Burning a CD is a doddle, same with making a mix of MP3s or M4As, but vinyl has that experiential quality I mentioned earlier.

What if they’d marketed this heavily and made turntables available, perhaps even funded in-store record creation? (Select some digital tracks and they’d make you a disc then and there)

But it was not to be, apparently. At least not yet.

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