Improving Disney Shopping, Part 4: Tigger Watch 2011


By web gangsta | Published:

When Web Watch last wrote on the topic of IMPROVING DISNEY SHOPPING, we noted how Disney merchandising was starting to turn the giant ship around into more favorable shopping options for fans.

And with last month’s news about the NEW WINNIE THE POOH FEATURE FILM BEING RELEASED IN 2011, Web Watch thought that this will be a great time for a case study to see whether Disney really is looking at how to properly merchandise their franchises.

Why a case study, and why “Tigger Watch” instead of “Winnie the Pooh Watch”?

In our piece on DETOONING DISNEY IN FIVE LESSONS, we covered what Forbes magazine had to say about the amount of money that various cartoon franchises brought.  Let’s revisit what they said happened in 2003:

  • the Winnie the Pooh franchise (including Tigger, Eeyore, and assorted other characters) brought in US$5.3 billion.
  • the Mickey Mouse franchise (which includes Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, and Daisy) brought in US$4.7 billion.

You read that right:  Pooh was more profitable than the Mouse that year.  

And while Pooh and Friends may have been neglected in recent times as Disney merchandising refocused on their Disney Princess, Disney Fairies, Cars, Pirates, and other product lines – Disney Consumer Products wanted to be sure that the silly ol’ bear and his stuffed comrades was not forgotten (the debacle of My Friends Tigger and Pooh aside).  Besides, with Disney refocusing energy on The Disney Store revamps, now can be a good time to expand into fresh new product offerings for consumers.

SO LET’S LOOK AT THE PRESS RELEASE FOR THE NEW WINNIE THE POOH FILM:

Beginning with Winnie the Pooh, DCP and Walt Disney Animation Studios today announced a new theatrical film planned for spring 2011, making it Pooh’s first theatrical release in six years since Pooh’s Heffalump Movie in 2005. DCP will focus merchandise strategy on moms of infants and toddlers, with a secondary focus on women. Other Disney businesses, including Disney Publishing, are developing Pooh content for a new generation of consumers that will further drive the growth potential of this classic character.

What wasn’t said in the original press release is that the film will be hand-drawn, a throwback to the original Pooh shorts from the ’60’s.  Especially considering how awful the My Friends… TV show looked as CGI, this will be a welcome change for animation fans.

That said, the key point in the press release is that the film was announced not just by Walt Disney Animation Studios, but by Disney Consumer Products as well.   Have no doubt – this film is being designed to push merchandise.

But note the merchandising strategy:  a focus on moms of infants and toddlers, with a secondary focus on women.

The former makes perfect sense.  No need to discuss that here, as Pooh and Friends products have done very well in the baby arena.   Disney’s own research says that Pooh is the #1 character for expectant moms and mothers of infants and newborns, as well as the #1 Disney character among preschool moms.  That’s pretty definitive about who the target audience is.

The research holds up: Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore already have a large female following, as confirmed by various Pooh tattoos like Kate Gosselin’s, and the sheer amount of Pooh, Piglet, or Eeyore-themed women’s clothing that’s already readily available.

That leaves Tigger.   He’s popular, got top billing on the My Friends with Tigger and Pooh show, and was the first spin-off Pooh film, with The Tigger Movie.  

But currently, practically invisible on the merchandise shelves.  He’s a male-oriented character; you can tell by the sports-oriented clothing (baseball and hockey jerseys), polo shirts, boxer shorts, and swim trunks that have been sold over the years.  In other words, perfect for our needs.

That’s why we’re going to use TIGGER WATCH 2011 to monitor how DCP merchandises a character outside of the stated primary target audience for the new Pooh film: adult men.

Let’s take a baseline to see where Disney stands on their current Tigger clothing available for adults by viewing what’s available online at Disney Shopping when you browse by character:

  • Just two items, and both are “You Design It” T-shirts. 

Two. 

That doesn’t make any sense.  Tigger is, and has been, a popular character.

Browsing the 122 different options listed under “Men’s Apparel” shows the following possible Tigger-related items:

  • 25 shirts from the “You Design It” line, with 19 of those items being for specific characters other than Tigger.  Even then, some of the available options only have 1 Tigger design available.  If you are able to hit the specific product that allows you to select from all of the Tigger designs in the Zazzle system, then you have 117 different Tigger images to choose from.   And these 117 graphics haven’t changed since the You Design It product line was introduced years ago.
  • 21 “Create Your Own” accessories, with each one having just one Tigger option available.
  • 9 shirts that contain character-font text, spelling out the word “Disney”.  You’ve seen this graphic over the past few years if you’ve visited the parks. In this case there is a generic “D”, Pluto is the “I”, Goofy is the “S”, Donald is the “N”, Tigger is the “E”, and Mickey is the “Y”. 

In other words, Tigger is worthy enough to be included with the Fab Five in spelling out the word “Disney”, but not good enough to have any of his own adult merchandise available.

So unless you’re willing to design-your-own and use whatever graphics that Disney makes available, you’re out of luck if you want to wear Tigger.  This hasn’t always been the case, and the parks do have some Tigger clothing items available, and we will cover that and more in future editions of Tigger Watch.  

The point of this exercise is to monitor how well Disney expands their character offerings as they gear up for the 2011 film that is specifically aimed at improving merchandise.  Because if Disney can improve shopping options for a character and audience that is not the stated primary focus of the merchandise plan, then everything else should be clicking as well.

Let’s see how they do.  This is going to be fun.