Bundling the unbundled - Content marketplaces in L&D

January 7th, 2021

Netflix announced on Wednesday 6th Jan that it would be raising the prices in the UK to cover the cost of producing content, after doing so in the US in October 2020. Disney+ also has price rises on the horizon too, as the cost of building on their supreme content library (and the closure of all other forms of Disney income) begins to bite.

Unbundling started to become popular in 2015 as the consumer became frustrated with the modern media monopolies and disapproving of the higher costs charged for premium content to cover the niche options on offer. Netflix tempted you in from the £20+ a month costs down 75% to just higher than the price of a Tesco meal deal, and everyone was convinced.

And then Netflix raised its prices. And then raised its prices. And then raised its prices. And here we are.

But do we actually want to be unbundled?

No, we just want lower costs. The reason bundling existed in the first place was due to it being an elegant way to support independent, specialised and tailored content by balancing the cost against mainstream ever-popular binge-able seasons.

Bundling and unbundling in Learning & Development

It's interesting that this behaviour isn't just exclusive to entertainment, and there are various examples of both approaches within the learning and development sector.

Content marketplaces are common in an LXP driven product suite, allowing for a one bundle price to access all the content within that market - but marketplaces themselves are plentiful, allowing for a mix and match unbundled approach to content selection for your platform.

What is LinkedIn Learning if it isn't a bundled feature within a LinkedIn plan? Even the learning content itself - authored by many individuals - is a bundle.

Let's not even mention MOOCs, who's whole premise it to promote the reuse and remixing of resources.

So what's best?

Well, I strongly believe in convenience. No one actually wants to subscribe to 7 different services to get everything they want to consume, and are only forced down that path when other factors (e.g. price) force them that route.

No one actually wants to subscribe to 7 different services to get everything they want to consume.

We had an internal conversation at BuildEmpire regarding the planned gatekeeping of one of our products, where we proposed the initial cost of the product would be kept low, and then having an "add-on" approach, with each add-on bringing a price increase. We quickly changed our approach.

What the customer wants is value from a known expenditure. No hidden costs and no feeling of FOMO.

Scott Galloway effectively proposed a un-bundled bundle - with his rundle (Scott's term for recurring revenue bundle") - which sees organisations provide encapsulated value by combining other elements of its service into one cost. He proposed Disney, for instance, could include member only access to parks and member only cruises as part of their offering.

The end-goal, however, remains the same. To provide value to the customer, and to the shareholder.


We will all end up back with a bundle

The learning technology space of L&D has moved significantly in recent years, and with a proliferation of services available, it's unsustainable for L&D teams to retain subscriptions to all learning content marketplaces, platforms or resources.

I believe we will see a return to consolidated bundling of products and services in many areas, but focused around a re-occurring revenue model. Bundling does not define the ideal approach, the value to the customer ultimately does.

The learning technology space is due some consolidation, so this may naturally benefit the end customer. Lets hope the sector continues to provide value to its end customer and doesn't get distracted by the noise around this current trend.