In recent installments, I’ve been talking about expanding the market via fulfilling customer expectations, seeking new markets, and standing out among everyday products. However, reaching out to new customers is only one part of the equation of market growth.
As non-customers are added, and begin to enter the customer market, they will often seek to find more titles similar to those which first piqued their interest. So, for example, those who began watching with Cowboy Bebop would most likely shift to titles such as Samurai Champloo or Trigun. Those who entered with a show like Robotech would typically seek out shows like Starblazers or Captain Harlock, which have similar themes and styes. As these fans grow more comfortable, they will typically look into new titles, and new experiences.
This is where we come in. Many anime websites work on the argumentum ad populum logic. This basically means that we operate under the assumption that our readers are familiar with the material, and that we therefore don’t need to explain certain terms or logic. Jargon sneaks in, and we often chase stories that are more interesting to the embedded enthusiast. Since we’re all in this embedded group (hell, we should be for the long hours we put in!), it’s easy to fall into the trap. Many of us have watched anime for years, if not decades, and we associate with fellow fans regularly. The thought that people may stumble upon the site that are excited from a viewing of Naruto, or One Piece, or Durarara!!! on Adult Swim usually doesn’t enter the thought process.
This creates the tricky situation. When thinking about the new type of reader, the question of how to approach him becomes an issue. It’s easy to dumb the writing down, and simplify the concepts. However, these new readers aren’t stupid. Like any of us, this breed of reader knows when he’s being talked down to, and when he’s really not wanted. These are people who seek to expand their knowledge of a medium they find interest in. To find that middle ground is incredibly difficult, but it certainly is worth the effort. Those who can successfully ignite the imaginations and interest of these new customers will reap the benefits as they capture the readers that slip through the cracks of major anime publications.
I’ve seen many attempts to capture this audience (and made one myself, in the Beginner’s Guide), with varying degrees of success. It’s a change in paradigm that takes time, effort, and a hell of a lot of frustration. And, while it’s not quite to fruition, it is encouraging to see attempts to cater to both the core market and potential expanded groups.