Frazer Blog

What your funeral home can learn from Netflix

by | Dec 16, 2016 | Funeral Profession

Netflix on a laptop

With the cold weather coming in for many and (hopefully) a little holiday time off to relax, it’s a great time to sit back on the couch, relax, and put on your favorite Netflix movie or show.

But before you begin bingeing out on your favorite program, there might be a lesson we can all learn from Netflix.

Netflix: Success Doesn’t Stand Still

Right now, Netflix holds the title as the number one digital streaming service with more than 86 million paid users worldwide. In the U.S. alone, Netflix boasts more than 47 million users. It’s beating out competitors on both sides of television services. Other streaming services like Hulu and HBO Now reach just about 10 million subscribers, and traditional U.S. cable companies like Comcast and Charter have only 22 million and 17 million customers, respectively.

In 2015, users watched more than 42 billion hours of television and movies on Netflix. That’s more than any other network or service.

But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, the world’s leading digital streaming service started off using a very old (and some would say outdated) service — the post office.

Besides leading the way in digital streaming, Netflix gets something else very right — the art of adaption. Over the course of the company’s history, Netflix has gone through three very different stages.

Let’s break it down.

Humble Beginnings

Netflix started in 1998, and as most people remember, had a simple model — DVDs by mail. The company pretty much stayed unchanged from this for 10 years.

Their model was a bit different from competitors at the time, too. Unlike other movie rental services like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, Netflix didn’t have a physical location. Netflix also tried something else a bit different — instead of having to pay per movie rented, customers could simply pay a flat monthly fee, and rent as many movies as they wanted.

People loved it. And while Netflix’s business model incorporated some new ideas — it was all centered around old-fashioned snail mail. But Netflix knew success doesn’t always last forever — a change was coming, and they had to adapt accordingly.

The Start of Streaming

The second stage of Netflix began in 2007, almost a decade after the company started. Two factors caused Netflix to change its strategy. The first was pressure from competitors — other video rental companies had caught on to Netflix’s successful subscription model.

The other factor was that, by 2007, broadband internet was more accessible than ever. Netflix saw its opportunity and took it with the launch of its streaming services. Using the same monthly subscription-based model, customers could now access a full library of content — no longer needing to wait for a DVD in the mail.

Netflix invested heavily in streaming services, even splitting their mail-order business into a completely new company to focus solely on streaming. The addition of streaming services eventually killed the competition — Blockbuster went bankrupt still trying to catch up with Netflix’s mail order service.

And yet, Netflix didn’t stop there. They knew new competition would come, and they would have to adapt yet again.

Content Creator

Simply streaming wasn’t enough because other digital services like Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO started getting in on the action.

So in 2013, Netflix entered a new era as a content creator, debuting House of Cards and following up with Orange is the New Black. Today, Netflix has created more than 36 original series. As Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer of Netflix, told GQ in an interview, “The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.”

Adaption is Key to Success

Netflix’s success story isn’t limited to the digital streaming industry. Their strategy of adaptation is fundamental to the era we live in — an era and economy that’s filled with constant innovation and change.

This is what funeral homes can learn from Netflix. Adaption is key — but it’s also not enough. Funeral homes need to be on the lookout for change, because before you know it, your competitors will start catching up, or you could even start finding competition from nontraditional sources like these funeral startups.

So take a page out of Netflix’s playbook — make sure your funeral home starts this year ahead of the competition. That means offering families new services, new levels of personalization, and new ways to memorialize their loved ones.


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