The Bane of the Blockbuster


Everybody loves a home run. There’s no doubt that the marketplace (product developers and product sellers) love to bask in the riches and glow of a barn-burning, out-of-the-ballpark new product.
Overly relying on the blockbuster; however, can be dangerous. Both the product producer and the retailer can fall into the trap of waiting for the “next great home run” and fail to succeed or sustain growth.

Barry Bonds, Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth and even Roger Maris in 1961 were great home run hitters, yet about one-third of their hits were home runs. Even those sluggers didn’t hit it out of the park at every at bat.

Companies that rely on the blockbuster to save the day, in the end, simply can’t always deliver. A consultant friend of mine who works with some large organizations shared with me his experience with two clients who both are waiting for the next big thing. Both clients are seeing earnings drop and significant troubles.

Some thoughts:

The blockbuster covers a multitude of sins. While blockbusters keep us on a revenue high, relying on them for success sometimes keeps our attention off the infrastructure needed to sustain long-term growth and profitability. While we bask in short-term revenue, we sweep infrastructure under the rug and then when we need it (because we have no available blockbusters) to help us analyze or keep the basics moving, we don’t have the systems.

The blockbuster keeps us away from the basics. I remember as a retailer the down times when there just wasn’t traffic. We could not wait for the next big home run, we needed some singles and doubles to ignite the offense (revenue). Some years ago I ran a boys wear department. In those lean times I made certain my Boy Scout, underwear and sox sections were full and in stock. Why? I needed to make sure that when some traffic did come in that I had the basics so the customers weren’t disappointed and hung around to shop.

Blockbusters are wonderful, but at the same time none of us can afford to abandon our core business and wait. We need to stay focused on the customer, be ready when they do come and keep our infrastructure in great shape so we can do the analytical and logistic work it takes to do solid, quality business.

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