Media & Entertainment

Redbox is Relevant for Young People

Image Credit: Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

Redbox’s self-service DVD rental kiosks populate grocery stores and retail locations across the U.S. In fact, there are more Redbox kiosks across the U.S. than Starbucks or McDonald’s locations combined. But are the kiosks merely a vestige left over from the aughts, when Blockbuster went under as Netflix and other streaming services emerged?

Even with today’s multitude of streaming options, new research suggests that Redbox kiosks still hold sway in the media consumption landscape. In a survey of more than 1,800 U.S. respondents aged 13 and older, CivicScience found that nearly one third say they have used Redbox kiosks in the past and would use them again. That stands in contrast to just over a third of respondents who say they have never used them and aren’t interested.

Yet is the strong favorable base generating enough sales to keep the company competitive in a streaming-centric culture? Despite falling revenue after peaking in 2013, the company, under new ownership, is reported to be re-strategizing and expanding their operation, adding 1,500 more kiosks in 2017 alone and holding fast to the belief that convenience and low price keep customers coming back. There are no subscription costs and new releases can be rented for a lower price than most streaming services.

While that may be true, the survey revealed that Redbox customers aren’t exactly who you’d expect them to be.

They Watch (and Game) More

First, for many Redbox customers (those who have used it in the past and would again), Redbox isn’t the only way they’re watching movies and other media. They are more likely to go out to see movies and also stream video, and in particular to subscribe to Netflix, than those who have never used Redbox kiosks and don’t plan to. Nearly one out of two returning Redbox customers are also Netflix subscribers.

The data suggest that Redbox is one outlet among many that more avid movie watchers and media consumers turn to. That includes gaming — video gamers are 44% more likely to use Redbox than those who don’t play video games since the kiosks also offer many game titles in addition to movies.

Redbox Fans Shop Less in Stores

Second, despite Redbox kiosks being in and around physical stores, Redbox customers are 20% less likely to do most of their shopping in a store when compared to those who have never used Redbox and don’t plan to.

Instead, they’re more likely to split up their shopping between shopping in stores and shopping online. Even so, the survey shows these ‘part-time’ in-store shoppers are still significantly more likely to use Redbox kiosks than those who shop mainly in stores or mainly online.

But it’s a fine line — the more you shop online, the less likely you’ll rent from a Redbox kiosk. Those who have used the kiosks in the past but wouldn’t again tend to shop more online when compared to any other group. They are also bigger Netflix users, indicating that even some avid media consumers won’t make the exception for Redbox.

People living in cities are also more likely to use Redbox kiosks, followed by those in the suburbs. The higher concentration of stores and greater foot traffic of cities may draw more to the kiosks, also knowing that they won’t have to go far to return the DVD.

Redbox Fans are Younger than Expected

Finally, it seems reasonable to assume that Redbox customers would skew older and be those more accustomed to using DVDs. However, the poll shows that anyone over the age of 45-years-old is much less likely to use Redbox. In fact, the majority of 18-24-year-olds say they’ve used Redbox and would again. These young Millennials, many of whom are in college, are the most likely out of all age groups to use Redbox.

Perhaps 18-24-year-olds have more time to watch movies than their older peers, yet it’s surprising how many of these digital natives are down to rent DVDs to do so. Redbox kiosks still rank highly among older Millennials, as well as younger Gen Xers, and not because they’re renting DVDs for their kids. The survey also shows that parents are slightly more likely to use Redbox than non-parents, but not by much.

Overall, even though Redbox kiosks may be an anomaly in a sea of streaming services, they seem to have carved out a niche among the population. They’ve found a place among younger adults and those with more diverse media consumption and shopping habits. Yet how long they will stick around is the question, as the company itself has ventured into streaming, now offering Redbox On Demand.

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