A Sales Forecast Model for Short-Life-Cycle Products: New Releases at Blockbuster
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We develop, in this article, a sales model for movie and game products at Blockbuster. The model assumes that there are three sales components: the first is from consumers who have already committed to purchasing (or renting) a product (e.g., based on promotion of, or exposure to, the product prior to its launch); the second comes from consumers who are potential buyers of the product; and the third comes from either a networking effect on closely tied (as in a social group) potential buyers from previous buyers (in the case of movie rental and all retail products) or re-rents (in the case of game rental). In addition, we explicitly formulate into our model dynamic interactions between these sales components, both within and across sales periods. This important feature is motivated by realism, and it significantly contributes to the accuracy of our model. The model is thoroughly tested against sales data for rental and retail products from Blockbuster. Our empirical results show that the model offers excellent fit to actual sales activity. We also demonstrate that the model is capable of delivering reasonable sales forecasts based solely on environmental data (e.g., theatrical sales, studio, genre, MPAA ratings, etc.) and actual first-period sales. Accurate sales forecasts can lead to significant cost savings. In particular, it can improve the retail operations at Blockbuster by determining appropriate order quantities of products, which is critical in effective inventory management (i.e., it can reduce the extent of over-stocking and under-stocking). While our model is developed specifically for product sales at Blockbuster, we believe that with context-dependent modifications, our modeling approach could also provide a reasonable basis for the study of sales for other short-Life-Cycle products. 2012 Production and Operations Management Society.