Is Netflix about to replicate Disney’s product merchandising success?
Netflix, taking a page from Walt Disney, will launch an online store to sell limited-edition apparel, lifestyle merchandise and collectibles from its extensive catalog of shows and movies. The site marks the world’s largest streaming service’s first direct-to-consumer retail push.
Major studios often make more money on licensed merchandise royalties than through ticket sales of blockbuster movies. Disney, with franchises ranging from “Mickey Mouse” to “Star Wars,” is by far the licensed leader.
Netflix has been ramping up its licensing deals since the hiring in March 2020 of Josh Simon, formerly at Nike, as VP of consumer products. Recent new partners include Walmart, Amazon, Target, Sephora, Mattel and H&M.
Rather than a massive “Everything on Netflix” site, however, Netflix.shop will offer a rotating selection of exclusive, limited-edition items from select shows. The approach appears aimed to build buzz around shows as they’re released and gaining momentum, as well as to support its broader licensing programs.
Initially, the site will feature products from anime series “Eden” and “Yasuke,” including a “Yasuke” apparel range in a collaboration with streetwear brand Hypland and designer Jordan Bentley. Later this month, caps, t-shirts, hoodies and sweaters tied to “Lupin”, a series about a Paris-based thief, will be available. Created in collaboration with the Louvre museum, “Lupin” items also include a side table for $150 and throw pillows for $60.
In coming months, Netflix will release products tied to blockbusters “The Witcher” and “Stranger Things” and Netflix logo-wear from Japanese fashion house BEAMS.
In a blog entry, Mr. Simon described Netflix.shop “as an exciting new destination combining curated products and rich storytelling in a uniquely Netflix shopping experience.”
Netflix is a content-making machine. In 2019, Netflix released 657 first-run original titles, equaling more than nine times the original programming hours from video streaming rival, Amazon.com, according to a study from OMDIA.
Among skeptics is Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies at Columbia University’s Business School, who questions the enduring popularity of Netflix’s often overnight hits. He told The New York Times, “Most of them have a short shelf-life, unlike a Disney property, which is a generational long ride.”
Netflix has revealed no plans for physical stores.
- Introducing Netflix.shop: A New Way for Fans to Connect With Their Favorite Stories – Netflix
- Netflix: The Store! – The New York Times
- Netflix is launching an e-commerce site to sell show-related merchandise like anime hoodies and $60 ‘Lupin’ throw pillows – Business Insider
- Netflix Launches Its Own Online Store, Which Will Sell Exclusive Merch for Shows Like ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Witcher’ – Variety
- Netflix Shopping Is Now a Thing – WWD
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of the overall merchandising opportunity around Netflix’s ever-expanding library of content? Is Netflix’s curated, limited-edition direct-to-consumer approach with Netflix.shop the right one?