We were prompted to revisit TIGGER WATCH 2011 due to popular Disney blogger JIM HILL’s recent column entitled DISNEY’S GOING BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH WINNIE the POOH. Why? Because there are some things in Jim Hill’s article that just didn’t seem to add up.
Jim Hill quotes Andy Mooney, Chairman of Disney Consumer Products, as saying that Disney has “done a lot of research” regarding the Pooh characters and marketing franchise. Mr Mooney states, ““We talked with a lot of mothers. Who do most of the buying when it comes to Winnie the Pooh merchandise.” He continues, “What we’re really looking to do here is return these characters to their roots. Try and recapture what made them so popular, so desirable in the first place.”
Apparently, Mr. Mooney and the Disney Consumer Products team did not complete their research assignment, as they should have recognized that not only are mothers not the only ones with money to spend, but there is also a merchandising black hole that they continue to ignore. Mr. Hill is correct in stating that the Mickey Mouse and Friends franchise does currently earn more money than the #2 Disney franchise of Pooh and Pals – Web Watch would like to remind readers that this has not always been the case – in 2003, the Pooh franchise outsold Mickey, with $5.3 billion vs $4.7 billion in sales. And that’s not due to Mickey having a bad year – ten-to-fifteen years ago, Tigger and Pooh merchandise was red-hot while Mickey sat on the sidelines and watched shoppers pass him by.
So why the shift?
The quick answer is that Disney refocused energies into marketing Mickey and de-emphasized Pooh. Whether it be due to the licensing lawsuit or just a marketing decision to highlight Mickey, as the 2000’s continued, it also brought a severe lack of Tigger (and Pooh) related products to the marketplace.
So with a year under our belt since our first Tigger Watch took place, let’s take a look at the online DISNEY STORE to see if there has been any change in the amount of adult-oriented Tigger-related merchandise available for sale online:
- On the “Shop by Character” screen, when Tigger is selected: there are 2 different create-your-own watch items, 2 create-your-own Adult t-shirt options, a create-your-own messenger bag, and a Mr. Incredible t-shirt. Last year, there were just two items – overall, this should be considered a win… but the Mr Incredible showing negates that. So we’ll call this item a draw.
- If we go strictly to the Men’s Apparel section, there are 230 different items listed. Of those 230 items, 48 have any Tigger-related offering — and all of those were of the Create-Your-Own variety. Compared to last year, there definitely is an increase in the variety of items available…. but since they are all of the Create-Your-Own type, there has been no overall improvement.
- If you are lucky enough to select a Create-Your-Own item that links to the Zazzle website, you’ll find 117 different Tigger designs to use… the exact same designs that were present last year (and the year before that, and the year before that, etc), with no updates. This continues to be a let-down.
So our year over year Tigger Watch conclusion? There has been zero improvement.
For yet another year, Tigger remains relegated to the back of the pack of merchandise availability when it comes to clothing for adults. As Web Watch stated last year, “…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.”
Last year, Disney licensed products accounted for 9% of their operating income. Imagine how much more money they’d make if they offered products appropriate for all genders and age groups, and not just the ones they think are most interested in a particular product line. They are ignoring those consumers who WANT to spend money at the Mouse, but can’t due to a lack of interesting or desired product.
If what we’ve seen in one year’s time is the best that Disney can do with regards to adult-related merchandise so far, then it makes us wonder what John Lasseter was refering to when he said at D23 that “Winnie the Pooh will not be … just for little kids.”.
Based on their Tigger merchandise options seen today, what Disney Consumer Products has done for adults in support of the franchise (ie. “not just for little kids” per John) so far remains pitiful.
Winnie the Pooh is being released on July 15, 2011 – let’s hope that DCP can get their merchandising act together between now and then.
There’s still time.