Netflix Launches Netflix.shop

Movies have long generated revenue from sales of merchandise related to the shows (think Disney). According to trade group Licensing International, sales of licensed products tied to shows was roughly $49 billion in the U.S. in 2019, and $128 billion globally. That’s a big number and one that has attracted Netflix to enter the market with its own merchandise line and shop.

Not content to have us all streaming entertainment constantly, Netflix now wants us to shop on its platform, too. Netflix has launched an online store with items that are highlighted in its shows. While Netflix holds a dominant lead in streaming, it also needs to have new sources of revenue in order to expand. Competitors such as Hulu and HBO Max charge streaming fees, but they also show commercials to generate additional revenue. Netflix does not have that revenue stream.

The new online store will sell apparel, merchandise, and collectibles from favorite shows such as “Stranger Things,” “Lupin,” and other shows. Limited edition street wear and action figures based on “Yasuke” and “Eden” (anime series) are now available. Lupin merchandise includes baseball caps, shirts, hoodies, throw pillow, and even a side table. All of the Lupin products were designed and produced in cooperation with the Louvre Museum. Future products will be based on popular series including “The Witcher” and “Stranger Things” along with Netflix logo apparel.

This isn’t Netflix’s first foray off screen. It has previously created video games based on popular shows and has agreements with department stores to sell products as well.

What will you buy?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What movies and shows can they list that have licensed products for sale?
  2. Have they purchased items related to these shows?
  3. Show Netflix’s new store: https://www.netflix.shop/
  4. Discuss the various promotional tactics that can be used for marketing a product. Have students come up with tactics and list all the tactics on the white board (ex: billboards, print, direct mail, etc.).
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team outline a marketing plan for Netflix.shop and have each team select three different tactics. For each tactic, explain why it was selected and how it will be used.
  6. How can this plan be expanded to new geographies outside the U.S.?

Source:  New York Times; Reuters; other news sources

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Victoria’s Secret Updates Brand Personality

Branding is a critical thing – while usually a strong marketing point, it can also be used to defeat you. Think about brands that need to be revised, even if they have a strong position.

Let’s try it. What is the first brand that comes to mind for the phrase “sexy women’s lingerie?” Go ahead, think. I’ll wait. (Yeah, right, I don’t need to wait more than a brief second.) You said “Victoria’s Secret,” right?

Now, picture the Victoria’s Secret’s advertisements and images. The images focus on bodies that would be at home in Playboy magazine; bodies encased in wings, feathers, bangles, and sparkles.  Sexy supermodels. Remember the Victoria’s Secret Angels and TV fashion show? Certainly glitzy and entertaining, but not really an honest portrait for or of the average woman, and certainly not an image that connotes strong, fearless, women and their accomplishments.

The brand has recognized that it needs a refresh for today’s culture, and to that end has garnered representation from female trailblazers and icons including: Megan Rapinoe (soccer), Eileen Gu (Chinese American skier), Paloma Elsesser (biracial model and size 14), and Priyanka Chopra Jonas (Indian actor and tech investor), Valentina Sampaio (Brazilian trans model), Adut Akech (South Sudanese refugee and model), and Amanda de Cadenet (photographer).  Not a supermodel in the bunch.

Victoria’s Secret new approach is to become a leading global “advocate” for female empowerment, focusing on women’s reality rather than male fantasy images. The stakes are high. With a market share of 21%, revenue of more than $7 billion, 1,400 stores, and 32,000 retail jobs the company has a lot on the line. Critics decry the company’s links to a misogynistic culture that honored sexism, sizeism, and ageism.

Looks like rebranding can be a good thing.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What brand comes to mind when you say “sexy female lingerie?”
  2. What images come to mind for Victoria’s Secret? What do the models look like? What is the focus of the advertising?
  3. Does this focus reflect today’s female culture?
  4. What do students think could be done to bring Victoria’s Secret branding to a more relevant place?
  5. Show a recent video: https://youtu.be/Pe3Nob7QM28
  6. Show the website: https://www.victoriassecret.com/us/
  7. What brands compete with Victoria’s Secret?
  8. What is their positioning?

Source:  New York Times; other news sources

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Naomi Osaka and Celebrity Endorsements

There is no doubt that celebrities make powerful brand ambassadors. In particular, professional athletes command a great deal of attention in the media and with consumers.  People tend to idolize these athletes and emulate them to the extent of buying products from the brands that they endorse (hey, if I thought Naomi Osaka’s brand of racquet would help my tennis game – I’d buy it!). The problem is that if an athlete fails to keep public goodwill, the brands might falter. Therefore, there are behavior contracts that guide and govern athletes with respect to brands.

One professional athlete recently in the news is Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka. At the French Open, Osaka won her match but declined to take part in a mandatory post-match news conference, thereby incurring an automatic $15,000 fine. Fines for athletes are not uncommon. At most major sports events players are contractually obligated to face the press following play. Osaka declined to meet with press and stated that she was willing to pay any fines. She cited caring for her mental health and depression as her reasons for not holding press conferences, stating that she “often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health.”

But, the Roland-Garros tournament officials took it a step further than a fine and threatened Osaka with increased penalties plus possible suspension from tennis if she failed to comply. Osaka subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Osaka’s celebrity status has served her well in tennis. She has more than 2.2 million Twitter followers, and has earned more than $60 million in prize money and endorsements, including brands Nike, Nissan, GoDaddy, Levi’s, and more. She is a four-time Grand Slam singles champion and the highest-paid female athlete ever. Osaka is also an activist who has taken high-profile stands on BLM and other causes. All of these factors make her a valuable endorser to brands.

Among the questions following Osaka’s withdrawal are how to respect and support athletes’ mental wellness, and how should brands respond? (To date, all of Osaka’s sponsors are staying with her.)

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the communication process: sender, encoding, message, media, decoding, and receiver.
  2. Discuss the importance of celebrities in brand endorsements.
  3. Poll students: How are purchases influenced by athletes and celebrities?
  4. What is their opinion of Naomi Osaka’s move at the French Open?
  5. What are brands responsibilities to endorsers? To consumers?
  6. Have students list all of the celebrities/brands pairings they can remember.
  7. What makes these pairings successful? Unsuccessful?
  8. Divide students into team. Have each team select a product or brand and then find a celebrity who could successfully endorse the brand.
  9. Debrief: Poll students about their opinions about the suggested pairings. Why were the celebrities selected?

Source: CNBC; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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