Note To Businesses: Consumers Don’t like Forced Bundling of Products
With football season coming up, my thoughts have started to slowly turn to blocking, blind-side blitzes, and blackouts. Recently tickets for next seasons AFC Championship rematch, New England Patriots vs. San Deigo Chargers went on sale. Though it’s a mere 8-hour drive, I was prepared to call in and try my luck at getting tickets. Then a friend told me something that I couldn’t believe. In order to purchase tickets for that game, you must buy tickets for two preseason games (see press release for details). If you are unfamiliar with preseason football games, the games are of little interest to fans. Typically the coach doesn’t want to risk a big injury, so the players that will play 90% of the season only play 15% of the preseason game. Teams don’t necessarily try to win as much as they try to evaluate the talent on their roster.
If I were to try to get the Patriots tickets, I’d surely have to try to sell them or not use them. Driving 8 hours one way for each of the games doesn’t interest me – especially when one of them is the 4-12 Falcons from last year. I looked into the possibility of selling them, but a distant friend says that they generally only go for 25% of their face value. In the end, what the Chargers have done is carefully crafted a scheme to effectively raise ticket prices for the games in demand rather than lower the cost of the preseason tickets to a price that reflects the marketplace’s demand. It doesn’t sit well with me. I’d rather see them just charge different prices for the games. Maybe there are laws against variable ticket pricing or perhaps the NFL doesn’t allow it. Either way, this is effectively the same thing.
It’s not just football ticket bundling either. It’s also:
- Video Game System Bundling – Often video game systems will be released with a game bundle included. If you want the system, you better like the games that are bundled. If you don’t, you might be waiting a long time to buy the system.
- DVD Movie Bundling – One of my favorite shows is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After releasing the seasons individually, they released Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Chosen Collection. This 40-disc collection has one DVD of “exclusive, never before seen extras.” If you want the information on this DVD, you are going to have to pony up nearly $200. Sadly, I know a few people who will do just that.
- Music – Greatest Hits Collections – I’ve fallen victim to this one myself. I used to love Aerosmith (still do, but not as fanatical as I once was). They have a couple of albums like Gems which is essentially a greatest hits collection. However, it adds the studio version of a song that was only previously released as a live version. They’ve repeated this formula a couple of times. It’s pretty common, because studio executives know that fans of the band will by the album for that one song. Of course things are different now with everyone using iTunes.
- Cable TV – In order to get FX and ESPN, one is often forced to buy a package of some 300 stations. You want high definition and a DVR? Well that requires another higher level of programming. Consumers say they want to pay only for the channels they watch. Cable execs say that it would be expensive as the popular channels subsidize the more niche channels. It’s also good for them to say, “Your cable bill has only gone up 50% in the last 3 years and we’ve given you access to 300% more programming.” It’s just not programing that you care about.
It really comes down to money. Executives of companies have found some ways to get you and I to give them our money. They play with our emotions to make their sale. In some ways, I want to congratulate them on a well-devised plan. In the end, I have decided that such marketing has left a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps that’s why the iTunes store has been so successful – it’s allowed people a way to escape the bundling of products.
Photo Credit: Â°Florian