NetFlix Offers $1MM for Better Movie Predictions

Posted: under Niche Marketing Expert Gallery.
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If you have used NetFlix, the DVD rental service, you’ve probably used their recommendation service. They’re success rate in pleasing customers is about to get much better.

Scene from "Makin A Living", Charlie Chaplin's first movie (1914)

Scene from "Makin A Living", Charlie Chaplin's first movie (1914)

The niche market of movie buffs is an eclectic lot. While the rental stores are forced to categorize their physical inventories by such choices as drama, comedy, or action, your individual preferences might be much more varied. Maybe you like Kate Winslet movies. Or you like movies shot in exotic locations. Whatever. NetFlix is spending one million dollars to make you happy. Or, at least, 10% happier. Why? Improved loyalty, more subscribers, more cash.

To accomplish that goal, NetFlix has been running a contest, asking for outsiders to help them improve on the accuracy of predications by 10 percent when compared to their proprietary Cinematch software (originally launched in 2000). After 42,000 contest entries, a team called BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos has apparently met the goal and is prepared to claim the $1MM prize.

When you engage in marketing to a niche audience, you always have to be wondering how good is good enough. In a retail store, broad categories might be enough to satisfy customer expectations. NetFlix realizes their customers expect more, and are willing to spend 7 figures to raise the bar and hopefully gain a competitive advantage. They understand they serve practically infinite variations of customers, and doing that better than anyone else is how they defend their niche and make their money.

Comments (0) Jul 10 2009

Police Cars a Neglected Niche Market: Video

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Hermosa Beach, CA – Carbon Motors noticed that police cars were always modified production cars, while ambulances, fire trucks and even mail carrier vehicles were custom built for the unique demands of their particular applications.

With a market niche of about 800,000 vehicles, that’s a big market. If the average purchase price of  police cars is $50,000, you’ve got 40 BILLION DOLLARS worth of sheet metal and technology ready for patrol duty at any one time.

Start-up Carbon Motors plans to claim a big chunk of that market from the established automakers. How? By paying attention to the unique needs of this market. Their design is safer for officers while enabling them to be more efficient, and delivers low cost of operation plus long service life that makes the economics a slam dunk. Production isn’t slated until 2012, but with enough advance orders I’m sure they’ll gladly push that date up.

Here’s a fun video that will give you a good look at their purpose-built police car.

Carbon Motors E7 Police Car Photoshoot – Douglas Sonders Photography from Douglas Sonders on Vimeo.

Now let’s think… how long has this market been under-served? Since the 1920’s? This niche market has been waiting for someone to exploit it for almost a century. It’s surprising to me that $40BB hasn’t induced someone to figure this out sooner. Kudos to Bill Li and Stacy Dean Stephens for having the vision and courage to go after this niche. You can find more on these purpose-built police cars at

Comments (0) Apr 10 2009