The days of Netflix being the only streaming company on the market are over. With tons of new competition popping up, it’s clear that some will fail and some will thrive. So how do we determine who will stay and who will go? It seems clear that whoever creates the best marketing will have the best chances.
There’s a lot to unpack and potentially take away from this marketing battle. Even though we can’t make any concrete predictions, if we follow some fundamental marketing principles, we’re bound to successfully estimate who will come out on top.
For those who are unfamiliar or only vaguely aware of how the streaming world is currently stacked, let me offer an outline to help you understand the rest of my analysis.
Netflix was one of the first streaming companies around, letting users watch videos using their internet connection. They slowly added movies and TV shows to their database. Eventually, they began producing their own content.
Logically, other companies sprung up providing competition to Netflix. In the US, Hulu began offering TV shows and movies, Amazon also started creating their own movies and shows, and most recently Disney and Apple entered the streaming world. On the domestic front in the UK, BritBox has seen what once would have been considered a very unexpected partnership, with the BBC and ITV combining forces to offer a new streaming service building upon iPlayer and ITV Hub.
The average person might determine who will ultimately come out on top by comparing things like price, quality, speed and programming. Though these are definitely important factors, it’s clear that there’s much more to it. In fact, what really will separate one of those companies from their competition is their marketing campaigns.
Why marketing is the key to victory
As with a lot of products and services, marketing and brand positioning can create greater value and influence a purchasing decision even more than price or quality. For example, Apple has consistently shown it doesn’t need to wow users with their features when advertising its products. In fact, they consistently sell despite being priced higher than their market. They have even looked to make up for shortcomings of their products and services through marketing. For example, after their phones had a FaceTime security issue, they ran an ad campaign showing how privacy and security is their priority.
When comparing the streaming sites, assuming they’re all relatively similar in quality, accessibility, price, volume and choice of content, the clear winner will come from marketing campaign success. A powerful marketing campaign emphasises differentiation, convincing users that a specific product or service is better than the competition. It erases or at least masks the shortcomings in the minds of the audience, and, similarly, accentuates the positives. For example, Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, might boast their exclusive access to Star Wars content. However, if this fact isn’t presented in a way that truly excites customers, it might essentially fall on deaf ears.
At the end of the day, the winner might technically have the worst streaming product performance among its peers. This wouldn’t even be an anomaly – it happens all the time in the world of marketing. Superior products get beat out of the market by inferior products with better campaigns behind them. It’s truly not a matter of who brings out the most valuable service. Rather, it’s who convinces the people their product is the most valuable.
Learnings and earnings
Obviously, not everyone is going to market for a streaming site. However, the same principles apply to all types of marketing – the best products and services aren’t truly decided by which product or service is best. Recognising this gives marketers a huge edge in the way they approach their work.
One thing to take away from this is the idea that you're always in the fight, no matter your competition. If you’re a marketer working with a product that doesn’t measure up, make it measure up with innovation and creativity and accentuate the feature or quality where you do outperform and can win. Force the market to see your company’s product as better than the others through sheer marketing prowess.
The strategy to accomplish this is of course down to your marketing team, but what will rally you all is the fact that even if you have a weaker product or service, you can still win. The streaming wars will certainly be representative of that.
Cory Schmidt is head of marketing at Canto