Disney -- Looking Ahead after COVID
Updated: Mar 28
March 7th, 2021
By: Rachel Liu
Hey Marketing Gurus! Today, we’re taking a break from advertisements and we’re talking about ✨Strategy.✨ That’s right, marketing is not just billboards and YouTube ads -- “strategy” falls under the jurisdiction of marketers as well. Where a product is placed, how easily it can be accessed, when it comes to your attention, and even which key features differentiate it from its competitors -- a team of marketers likely has their fingers in all these pots.
So, let’s talk about Disney. As arguably the giant of the entertainment space as well as a company hit hard by COVID, the industry has locked its eyes on them since the world shut down a year ago. And they have lived up to that scrutiny. Despite the decimation of movie theaters, their theme parks, and production of their upcoming films, Disney powered through and shifted their focus to Disney+, their streaming service luckily released at the end of 2019. Through the past year, Disney+ has been exceptionally successful, gathering roughly 95 million subscribers and releasing Mulan, Onward, and Soul throughout the year. Now, as the vaccine rollout is projected to finish by summer, all eyes are on Disney as they announce their plans moving forward.
“I’m not sure there’s going back”
A slightly ominous statement made by Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek just this past Tuesday in a conference hosted by Morgan Stanley. According to Chapek, although they are not going to abandon theaters entirely, the box office-focused company is not positioning themselves to expect any sort of full recovery from movie theaters. Talking about customers losing tolerance for the wait before a film is released to stream, Bob Chapek implied the company’s distribution strategy is now turning to delivery quality and convenience through Disney+...with a price hike, of course, coming on March 26.
Drive-In Theaters Making a Comeback
Almost a hundred years after they hit their first spike, Disney is bringing drive-in theaters back in the form of free and paid film festivals. Predicting that customers will be wary about the traditionally crowded movie theaters, the Disney+ Drive-In initiative will extend through to the fall. Though unlikely to be highly profitable, these showings demonstrate Disney’s intention to still interact with its consumers via altered physical mediums.
A Cautious Return for Disneyworld
Consumers are starved for Disney -- literally. Disney arranged a few, small events recently as feelers to gauge consumer interest, which is apparently sky high. “A Taste of Disney,” a food festival, had tickets sold out within hours. “A Touch of Disney,” another limited-capacity festival released their tickets last Thursday. In press releases, Chapek is optimistic about the enthusiasm consumers are displaying about the returns of the parks, with, of course, safety protocols in place.
Everything’s Going Digital
Following what’s become the trend of 2020, Disney is closing 20% of its retail stores; instead, the company is relying on its ecommerce site ShopDisney to sell merchandise. More and more virtual experiences are being offered through at-home, virtual mediums and questions about Disney’s cruises are waved off by representatives. As an industry trend-setter, Disney is sending a signal to many that consumers have been fundamentally changed by the pandemic.
Want to read more? Here are some articles detailing the events listed in this article and more. We do not own the rights to any of these pictures and are using them for purely educational purposes -- Disney, please please don’t sue us.
Rachel Liu is one of Marketing Society's Spring 2021 Co-Content Directors at NYU Marketing Society. She is a sophomore at NYU Stern concentrating in Marketing and Management. She is running the Humans of Marketing Society column! Check it out here!