Competitive Balance

Seems the sequential art scene is getting a bit crowded in Georgetown. The article gives a much better overview than I can but basically we're looking at something akin to the Lowes/Home Depot phenomenon. Ever notice how almost anywhere there's a Home Depot or a Lowes, the other is to be found not far away? There are two examples of this within fifteen minutes of me and I know its not a localized trend. The theory goes that these two competitors choose to be near each other because their proximity makes them both "destination" retail stores. If I need a new reciprocating saw, I can go to a single area and check two stores, comparing prices, quality etc. This creates competition which strengthens both stores meanwhile both see increased traffic.

It may feel a bit counterintuitive, but in almost every situation it turns out to be beneficial to both stores in the long run so long as both stores are willing to adapt to changes in the marketplace and clientele. Now, in Georgetown there is another issue at play, namely the similarity in store names. Personally, I would have made a bit more of an attempt to differentiate my store from competitors in every way possible, including a store name. From what I can gather from the article, it seems as though the stores do take somewhat different approaches to comic retailing, which is great for the customer and bodes well for both stores.

There is a tendency inherent to any business to view competitors as the enemy and such tendencies are only magnified in an industry that is as dependent on habit as this one. Thankfully there is a sentiment throughout much of the industry that, since the market is small to begin with, we're all in this together. As you've no doubt guessed by now, I'd much rather see the market grow than my market share grow. You can see the tendency I mentioned earlier, however, in the final quote in the article:

But that hasn't softened his stance on the name. "I have spent 20 years establishing the Big Planet Comics brand," Pollack says, "and I don't want some pissant to come along and mess with that."

I understand the branding sentiment, but the decision to refer to the competition as a pissant indicates that the anger most likely goes beyond the naming issue. There seems to be a certain element of, "I've spent 20 years establishing a customer base and I don't want some pissant to come along and steal those customers." Whether that's the reality of the situation I don't know, but I do know that there are some in the industry who feel exactly that way. Why?

A lot this comes back to the question of how much room is realistically left in the Direct Market. I don't know that I've got THE ANSWER, but I do have some thoughts.


Post a Comment

<< Home