Christian Stores Battle for Narnia Sales

Discussion
Dec 09, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Christian retail stores are looking to today’s release of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” with great anticipation as the film is expected to be a blockbuster, spurring sales of Narnia books and related merchandise.


The film and the best-selling fantasy book series written by C.S. Lewis includes numerous references to Christianity and Christian themes. Nearly 100 million Narnia books have been sold since it was first published.


Many are predicting that Narnia will have an even greater impact on Christian store sales than Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ.” While many younger movie goers did not see Mr. Gibson’s film because of its brutal depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus, the Narnia film will be both kid- and adult-friendly.


Zondervan, a publisher of religious books, is responsible for supplying Christian stores with Narnia merchandise.


Doug Lockhart, president and CEO of Zondervan, told The Associated Press, “The core target audience is in the 5-12 range, but the audience for ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ is of all ages.”


“It has been a very stable franchise but with the exposure that has been associated with this upcoming movie release, the sales have taken a dramatic increase, multiple times,” he said.


Retailers and suppliers are getting behind the Narnia push in a big way. Many stores have set up large displays to stop shoppers in the aisles and the Munce Group, described as a marketing group representing 610 Christian store independents, is running a display contest for retailers.


Kirk Blank, chief operating officer of Munce Group, said some retailers are renting theaters and giving away tickets to private showings of the movie. He anticipates another surge in Narnia business when “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is released on DVD.


Moderator’s Comment: How big is the overall Narnia retail opportunity? Does it provide Christian retailers with an opportunity to bring new consumers
to their stores?

George Anderson – Moderator

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7 Comments on "Christian Stores Battle for Narnia Sales"


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Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

My kids were given audio tapes of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe many years ago and my non-reading son, particularly, listened to them over and over again. Never once did he make any comment that lead me to even notice any kind of Christian theme. I’m with those who believe the marketing will work because of the age group and time of year. The religious angle doesn’t need to be played up and certainly shouldn’t be unless individual families believe that it is speaking to their needs and beliefs.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

The opportunity for Christian stores is to sell more to their existing customers. It’s unlikely that people who don’t normally shop in those stores will now come in for the first time. Those people will buy the tie-ins at Wal-Mart and other nonsectarian stores they normally frequent. Christian stores are often in secondary and tertiary locations, their traffic is low volume, and they turn off more potential customers than they create. The majority of the population doesn’t participate in religious activities at religious sites very frequently. The true believers’ ranks are not going to swelled by Hollywood.

Gwen Kelly
Guest
Gwen Kelly
15 years 2 months ago

Specific to the Christian marketplace, I personally see the Narnia franchise a big winner similar to what has been seen with the Veggie Tales franchise. The only exception will be that Narnia the movie will far exceed what Veggie Tales was able to accomplish as a movie. Other than that, the Narnia merchandising opportunities, I believe, will be numerous and extensive in reaching Christian and general market consumers alike, particularly those households with children ages 6-11.

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
15 years 2 months ago

I agree with Mike. I read the Narnia books when I was about 12 or 13, I think, and it wasn’t until I was an adult and read it somewhere that I had any inkling they incorporated Christian themes and references. If the media turns Narnia into a religious experience, I think sales will go DOWN, not up. Christians who want to use the books and merchandise as teaching tools with their kids will do so. Everyone else will just think they are good books and a good movie. Start making it a “statement” or relegate the merchandising to religious stores, and some part of the market, at least, is going bye-bye.

Giacinta Shidler
Guest
Giacinta Shidler
15 years 2 months ago

I have to disagree with the comments above. With all respect, it is belittling to Christians to say that it is “all interpretation.” To any Christian who reads “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and is familiar with the Jesus story in the Bible, the parallels are obvious and based on more than one or two choice phrases. The Narnia books are meant to be fantasy, not theology.

To address the question, smart marketers make the most of their opportunities when they can predict that a given film/event will connect with a broad audience. And just in time for Christmas too! It will get merchandised as much as possible until the next big thing comes along.

Michael L. Howatt
Guest
Michael L. Howatt
15 years 2 months ago

As in all marketing, the Christian theme is being blown way out of proportion for the sake of sales. The psuedo-religious theme they are contriving comes from the phrases “Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve.” We can all see how religious that is. The rest is mainly based on interpretation (now THAT sounds religious). The real reason that Narnia related goods will be so successful is that there are 7 books, therefore 7 movies and lots of merchandising opportunities await.

Michael Tesler
Guest
Michael Tesler
15 years 2 months ago

I think this is about the movie and how it is received by target audiences, how entertaining it is and how much it becomes the “next big thing.” Religion is an interesting adjunct issue but the marketing opportunities are similar to Harry Potter…the first Harry Potter…when the staying power, penetration, and product opportunities were very speculative. If it connects with kids, it will be “mainstream” stores that will make the most from it and they will most likely be selling “kids” products as opposed to “religious” products.

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