The rapidly changing face of retail and the once popular high streets is a result of consumers moving online to do their shopping. Who would have imagined stores like Blockbuster video, Woolworths, Maplin and Toys R U could ever go out of business, but go out of business they did. Could they have done anything to stop this? No, the market takes no prisoners and will dictate how we move forward.
eCommerce has given consumers more choice, more convenience and better prices. We can now shop around and compare and look at products from our homes via a click of the mouse. In fact the landscape has changed more than that. We can shop on the way to work, on the train, when we are on the beach, in fact anywhere you can get internet connection and have a mobile phone in your hand. We can shop 24/7 where ever we are. Retail stores cannot and could not compete and so go out of business.
The reality is we can now do anything on line and that includes pick up women too.
The ago-go bar in Thailand used to be the go to venue to ogle the most attractive women who worked the bar scene and pick them up. It was the online equivalent of a ‘market place’ website. However times are changing and this threatens the very fabric and longevity of the role of the ago-go.
If you thought the ago-go was more than just a pick up place then perhaps it is time to think again. Ago-gos are being hit on multiple fronts in a vicious circle. Online ‘meeting places’ like Baddoo, Tinder and even Facebook mean some customers can do their ‘shopping’ from home, but more than that it means many of the girls now do not have to flaunt their goods in a ago-go at unsociable hours. It is far more dignfied to meet guys from the comfort of their front room on their mobile phone than have to shake their stuff on a chrome pole with hundreds of other women like some big meat market.
“It was like going to see a Hollywood blockbuster at the cinema only for an amateur home movie to played”
This means the pretty ones can now stay at home and that puts pressure on the ago-gos to attract the best girls. This means standards drop in the ago-go and so when guys turn up it is now not like it once was. Casing point, in a rare night out with a few friends we hit a couple of ago-gos in Walking Street. Now I really am not a fan of ago-go anyway, girls going through the motions on a central stage holding on to a chrome pole does not rock my boat in fact I don’t find it titillating at all. It all seems rather dated to me. Anyway the standard of the girls was shocking, these girls should not have been half dressed and they had seen better days. It was like going to see a Hollywood blockbuster at the cinema only for an amateur home movie to played.
It felt very much like the writing was on the wall and I drew relevant and appropriate parallels to what we are seeing happening with high street stores. The online world is ripping up previous market models and coming through as the go to place for everything.
Really, in every instance there are similarities and I am just wondering what opportunity that represents to the guy that spots the trends. Online shopping in Thailand has seen delivery businesses rapidly appear and grow, like Kerry Express, so what are the spin offs to this evolving market proposition? I wonder what new business solution can appear from the ago-go demise? Men like to look at pretty girls, period. More so in person rather than just on a mobile phone – it is an ago-gos competitive advantage to Badoo. So, if they can get the pretty girls in place and tweak the model you would think they could survive, but they do need to evolve and change.
Ago-Go must evolve or die
So the next question I would be asking myself if I was ago-go owner is how to I evolve to stay relevant. Perhaps offer food and make dancing girls less of the core offer, in many ways somewhat like Hooters. If we accept that an ago-go is more than just a place to pick up women but a place to be entertained, what else can they do?
Imagine a live band with the girls dancing around them, now that could be very cool. Why not put some sports screens up, make the role of the girls a factor of the venues offer rather than the only thing. Drinks prices and offers could also be looked at – how about a wider selection of draft beer at regular bar prices? Pull the punter in with a wider offer than just that of a girl dancing on a chrome pole.
There is a bigger question here too. Locations like Soi LK and Walking Street in Pattaya or Nana and Soi Cowboy in Bangkok then serve a different role for customers. They become more of just entertainment centres, it is the same conclusions retail high streets are coming to. People visit shopping centres and retail high streets as part of their leisure time and not primarily to shop now. This means the offer changes. These rules apply the same to Walking Street Pattaya as they do Oxford Street in London.
If I was to guess I would say over the coming years we will see different types of entertainment propositions at the expense of too many ago-go bars. I am sure the best will survive, but the lesser ones simply cannot.
Will the ago-go become another Blockbuster or Woolworths? Well only time will tell.