Supply and Demand, Disney-Style: Why You Shouldn’t Copy Their Methods
I have been waiting for Finding Nemo to come out on Blu-ray since the day I got a Playstation 3 and a 1080p TV. Not only is it a great movie (my favorite Pixar flick), but animated movies just look incredible on Blu-Ray. So where in the heck is it? Nemo came out in 2003; Toy Story came out in 1995 and we have a Blu-Ray of that. What is Disney thinking? Aren’t they going to lose customers? There’s a supply and demand issue here, right? Demand will drop eventually….
Not so fast. When you are as big as Disney, you get to make your own marketing rules. Most companies have to rely on those age-old principles of supply and demand to be successful, but Disney has shown that not everyone plays by the same rules. Instead, they seem to have completely made up their own, such as:
You’re just going to have to wait – Most companies need to get their products in the hands of consumers when the consumers want, lest their interest begins to wane. Somehow Disney has reversed this trend and no matter how long they make people wait, everything still sells like gangbusters. When you’ve built up as much brand loyalty as Disney has, delaying releases only seems to BUILD interest. I was at first only intrigued by the idea of purchasing Finding Nemo on Blu-Ray, but now I’m writing a blog about it. See what I mean?
It’s now or never! – Not only can Disney wait forever to release a movie, they can do so for only a limited time before it goes back in the “Disney Vault” and is no longer available in stores. Could you imagine if they had released the original Die Hard on DVD with the tagline: “Get it now before it’s gone forever!?” No one but Jana would rush out to the store. That’s a marketing strategy with fail written all over it…under normal circumstances. Not for Disney. They’ve created an incentive to buy something that was already eagerly anticipated (though this is somewhat lessened since the rise of second-hand online sales). This is a shrewd move that is only possible for the rarest of companies.
Classics never go out of style – Last but certainly not least, Disney keeps making movies that stand the test of time. There are no cheesy 80’s montages, outdated hairstyles, child actors fallen from grace, or even scenery that dates the film. For the most part, if Snow White was re-released in theatres today, it could pass as a modern movie (sans the 3D) – and that timelessness has an immeasurable impact on any marketing strategy. It is really what makes everything else possible.
The moral of the story? Don’t hold out on customers too long. Disney’s version of supply and demand probably won’t work for you, and there will come a time when you’ll have to give people what they want. Unless you’ve built the same level of brand loyalty (which is highly unlikely for non-Fortune 500 companies), provide truly timeless products, and feel comfortable with taking risks, then you’ll be better off sticking to a more traditional sense of supply and demand. Buyers won’t wait for you forever!
Can you think of any other companies that have gone against conventional marketing wisdom and been successful? What is your opinion of Disney’s supply and demand strategy?