Thursday, 30 March 2006

ClixFlix - An Analysis

I think it's great that we have a Clixflix outlet here in my colony. I mean, this is a good DVD rental chain (with a wide variety of movies and membership plans I've not seen anywhere else). And they're the only ones who let you register and pay for movies online. You can even create a shopping cart of movies you'd like to see and they get delivered to your home and picked up when you're done without any late fees for upto a week.

ClixFlix outlet is located strategically at the junction of the main road and Holy Cross road. This means that apart from the online members the company has, they also get a steady stream of customers walking in and out of the store renting DVD'S and VCD'S. Real good for business, I guess. ClixFlix now has outlets at Malad(opposite Inorbit Mall), at Marol and at Churchgate(opposite K.C College).

Now I've been thinking and observing this branch, being in my neighbourhood and all. I'm starting to think the
ClixFlix outlet out here can actually make an impression on the colony. I'm talking sociology here. It might, in my view, actually begin to modify the socio-cultural fabric of this colony, if it hasn't already. We might begin to see the formation of relationships and sub groups forged through mutual tastes in movies or other interests all because one outlet brings people with similar likes and dislikes together. There are a number of points I'd like to share that might support the above theory :-

1. More and more people are making
ClixFlix a meeting place where they can meet their friends. A large number of people have been meeting at this rendezvous point now or in it's immediate vicinity and the number keeps growing. And what kind of people are these? Residents of I.C Colony. We're talking about the largest parish in Mumbai. So we have an especially large number of catholics and different personalities meeting here. With a liquor store opposite and ClixFlix on a major junction, even people uninterested in cinema are guaranteed to pass by the store at least once. And passing by means noticing the people already in and outside the store, their mannerisms, habits and the way they're dressed, all of which leave an impact on the mind of the viewer(whether he's interested in films or not). Does it tell him something about the way people should dress or behave there? Does it influence his own movie rental choices?

2. Now, we have a very crowded
ClixFlix on a typical evening. Crowded because the store with it's attractive interiors is just large enough to accommodate it's various titles; and the number of movie lovers who have the time to browse through the store in the evening is at an all time high, even on weekdays. So we have different people from different backgrounds rubbing shoulders with each other and overhearing each others conversations and getting an idea of what kinds of movies every other person likes to watch, leading each person to become aware of every other persons taste in movies at that particular time. So ClixFlix in a way affects each persons awareness and consciousness. But does each persons choice affect every other persons choice as well? In any case, with more people learning more about each other, various relationships are bound to be formed. Relationships between people are formed and cemented when they find out they go to the same school, like the same moral in the movie, etc. Suddenly people who share diverse interests and didn't have a platform to discuss them get an outlet to share their likes with a similar person. This affects the fabric of the colony as people with similar likes are now closer than ever before.

ClixFlix has quite a few online members. Some of them may prefer the solitude of their homes but I'm guessing most of them actually like to come down to the outlet and browse the racks for themselves. The advantage ClixFlix has over it's local competitors is its collection of international cinema and offbeat Hollywood films, the kind that you don't hear about until you happen upon them on T.V two years after they've been released in the U.S. So my point is, because of this unique selection of offbeat films, ClixFlix will always have a niche clientèle to match, right? So this niche clientèle comes to the store, they mingle with the rest of the crowd on a crowded Saturday evening, renting movies no one else would watch and asking questions about them no one else would care about. All this has an effect on the rest of the people present. It makes them aware that people who rent out international or foreign language movies actually exist in their midst. It's common human nature to perceive the majority of the world as being similar in taste, in a number of fields(movies, music, etc), to you. So, a person comes in to take the latest action adventure flick, is forced to wait in line for the guy in front to get his Japanese movie, trying so hard at the same time not to appear like he's listening to the conversation two people are having inches away from him about the black and white Hollywood classic they saw yesterday and noticing at the same time the two teens who're asking for a 1980's war movie; and these collective experiences affect this person and every other respective customer when they visit ClixFlix and this is what increases their awareness of their colony and neighbourhood. They begin to realise that the people who pay for films they wouldn't normally watch and which they didn't think twice about except to curiously glance at their covers are as normal as they are and live amongst them. Suddenly it's like the boundary of the universe of their mind has been expanded somewhat. Mind you, this happens quite a lot in daily life as well, only we don't give it much thought. Imagine seeing a woman cab driver. It's kind of like the same effect.

4. Let's look at some other factors. More and more people in Mumbai are buying more and more DVD players. Just a few years ago, I was more than happy catching a movie on T.V(Star Movies, H.B.O, Zee MGM, etc) and rented V.C.D's from local parlours of movies I really cared about or everyone made a big deal about. You see, if I miss a 'good' movie at the theatre and don't want to wait two years for it to come to T.V, and I have friends over at my place who want to watch something exciting, I guess I've got no choice but to get the VCD, right? But in this respect my choices are limited and
ClixFlix is on equal terms with all other local VCD stores. Why? Because you can get Mission Impossible anywhere. So you might as well get it from the nearest parlour since they all charge the same. So if everyone's equal then the status quo is maintained, right? Wrong! ClixFlix has an advantage over other parlours seeing as how it's conveniently located(closer to proper I.C than the other two VCD stores that are near the I.C church and stock only the main Hollywood and Bollywood hits) and it has great ambiance and the other factors I mentioned above. But that doesn't answer my main question. Why is everyone buying DVD players when they can continue watching VCD's like they did all these years? What's the big deal? No one except the niche clientèle I mentioned earlier would spend double the price to get the exact same movie, only with a few extra features. So why the DVD rush?

Here's my guess. More and more official parlours are springing up all over the city with a stock of both DVD's and VCD's. These are original prints, not pirated. Added to this is the fact that DVD players in Mumbai are being sold at dirt cheap rates now and VCD's are being phased out. Keeping this in mind, part of ClixFlix's success could be attributed to the fact that it was the first proper DVD/VCD outlet in I.C and the first one to distribute DVD's that are imported only from abroad. And ClixFlix has added another variable to the equation- it stores DVD's of most of the major hits and ALSO stores DVD's of offbeat films that no other parlour holds. This means customers who don't have DVD players but want to watch those type of movies feel like they're missing out on something. That forces people to get a DVD player just to rent those type of movies from
ClixFlix that they can't get on VCD, either at ClixFlix or anywhere else. That brings me to my most important argument. It could very well be that by actually displaying DVD's of various genres that no other parlour holds, ClixFlix has actually created a demand for them!

5. Finally, my last point regarding
ClixFlix and popular culture. If ClixFlix, through it's location, ambiance, unique collection, etc actually created a demand for it's own DVD's by just displaying them, does that mean that the customers who now rent these DVD's were all these past years just ignorant people who had only a fleeting idea what other choices they could have had? Did ClixFlix's very presence create it's own niche clientèle?(In my case the answer is yes) Or is it the other way round? Is the truth really that the population of the colony and it's surrounding colonies have experienced a greater self awareness these past few years with the changing face of Bollywood and increasing film festivals in India. Was the local population just waiting in silent agony for an establishment like ClixFlix to be set up so they could then proceed to enjoy its diverse merchandise as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Was ClixFlix a formality waiting to happen because everyone expected it to happen sooner or later?


In a way, I believe the answer is yes. I believe that there was a growing awareness among local moviegoers to experience diverse cinema and
ClixFlix filled that gap. But by filling it, it also offered an abundance of its own product which was lapped up and further fuelled its own demand. I also believe ClixFlix and other such organisations that push our boundaries, no matter how small, have the power to forge and mould relationships and ideas which, ultimately, are what change the world.


Satish said...

I think more popular than clixflix is the IC Lan onthe IC Vision cable net... i think there is over 5-10 terabytes of data and movies being shared :))

Oscar Varghese said...

Dude this article is GOOD> I cant begin to say how much of ingenuity I found in this article. Am really impressed. really Good article.
P.S- Dont know what else to say now. Well anyways later.

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