Netflix Adds Qwikster – But Should They have Researched the Name a Bit Better?

When I started almost 4 years ago, the first thing I did was research the name. Make sure there was nothing that could make this brand tainted. Make sure there was no one who would contest the name.

I guess the guys at Netflix didn’t care about that.

This morning, Reed Hastings announced that the DVD rental service is now called “Qwikster”, where as the side is still going to be called Netflix. It looks like they have been planning it for months, as the domain was registered back on July 25th by (although there was an instance of this domain on Wayback machine for February 2011). That is when they first announced the price split of rentals and streaming service.

In a blog post by CEO Hastings, he states:

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are becoming two quite different businesses, with very different cost structures, different benefits that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently. It’s hard for me to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary and best: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”.

How is streaming becoming a different business from DVD rental?

How does a movie differ from DVD to streaming? It’s still a movie – made by the same companies and watched by the same types of people. TV show DVDs are the same as TV show streaming. So what is the business model difference? The fact you can get the next movie or TV show right then and there? No mail back times or waits? Does that mean the streaming option is a better or worse in cost structure?

If that is the case, then the DVD rental industry is on dying breath. So why give it a new name?

How does the name Qwikster scream DVD rentals?

After a quick search on GoDaddy, I found DVDqwick or even QwickDVD – which would say more about the service than Qwikster. QuickDVD or DVDQuick are even most likely available. That still would have screamed DVD rental.

Is Qwikster a Good Marketing Idea?

Like I said, when I researched my brand, I looked for anything that would become incriminating. So when I did it with Qwikster, I got some pretty interesting points.

Let’s put aside the fact that WSJ reported this name was used by the Pot smoking Elmo. That is only 1 small part to this major debacle. Qwikster is not a correct spelling, so people will (at first) mistype the name. With that, they will find:

  • Quixstar – This is the rebrand name of Amway. The company based on MLM.
  • Kwik Star – Gas Station in the midwest, otherwise known as Kwik Trip
But this is the most interesting definition comes from the Urban Dictionary:
  • Quickster – Being able to get girls in the sack quick.
Does this mean they want to get girls in the sack quick? So they are going to target young females? How do you get them in the sack with DVD rentals?

What about that brand name – Will lawsuits follow?

A trademark can be a tricky thing. I don’t start to know about trademark law, but I would guess Quixtar might claim Qwikster is too close to their name brand. Not that Quixtar is a better brand name anyway.

I am still laughing over the Urban Dictionary term. That should have been the 2nd red flag (the first being the name not screaming DVD rentals).

The end result – Is Qwikster just a temporary name to Sell the DVD Rental business?

You might find this name come and go if the goal (of the split) is to sell their DVD rental side to someone else. It feels like someone would be purchasing a dying animal in DVD rentals. I know if I was buying a dying animal, further humiliation  would not be what I want. Then again, I wouldn’t buy a dying animal.

There are many that still like DVD rentals over mail, but is that because the streaming selection is not what the rental selection is. If you want to watch any movie that is just released, then either you have to choose the DVD rental service, or go to RedBox or Blockbuster.

By the way – is offering specials and 30 day trials for their service. That is, if you want to switch.

What Should Netflix Do Now?

Well, the damage is done. People are leaving. Still, the best thing to do is re-think their business model and give customers something. But what would it be? Their streaming service is still not up to holding it’s own – especially since it doesn’t have Sony movies and the whole issue with Starz is not helping, either.

Is Reed Hastings (CEO and Co-founder) doing a good job? What about the rest of the executive staff? If this price hike was a desperate maneuver and the split was a way to fix what he “messed up” (as he admitted in the blog), then they might not have a handle on this company. Maybe it’s time to get a new CEO and new direction going.

One thing is for sure – this is not a good direction for Netflix. They might be on top of the movie rental heap right now, but it looks like they’re starting to slip off that spot. Splitting the service could mean big losses for the next 6 months to re-affirm customers that they have a handle on their expenses. Hopefully they won’t hike up prices any more.

So did you cancel your Netflix account? Let me know @geekazine

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