No thaw in sight for Frozen as movie propels Disney sales

Despite being released back in November 2013, Disney continues to make a killing from Frozen. The animated movie helped it report total sales of £8.8 billion for its first financial quarter ending December 27 2014, a figure that grew 9% year-on-year and easily cleared the £8.4bn analyst consensus.

Profits also rose a staggering 19% to £1.4bn as Disney chairman Bob Iger beamed: “We are seeing the true impact of Frozen across our entire company.

Overall, retail toy sales in North America were up 4% in 2014 and much of the credit for that growth belongs to Frozen, which is delivering across every market.”

It was Disney’s consumer arm that made the biggest gains, with Frozen largely responsible, as consumer sales surged 22% to £921.8m, which boosted profits by 46% to £412m. Toy purists should look away now… as across the pond, the doll of Frozen’s lead character Elsa is now a bigger seller than even Barbie.

Frozen appears to be just as popular with British children too, with, to date, total merchandise sales in the UK close to an impressive £35m.

Today’s news is hardly surprising to anybody with, and probably without, kids. Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’ theme song has aggressively entered the public subconscious and set up its bed.

Over the last 12 months it has popped on everything from Sky adverts to nauseating YouTube and X Factor sing-alongs, wrestling Pharell’s Happy for the crown of ‘that annoying song you can’t stop humming on the train to work’.

Disney has cleverly deployed its marketing to generate a sustained buzz, according to Anton Dominique, COO at the London School of Marketing.

“This Christmas, the retail stores were prepared for the Frozen frenzy and in a rare move, they have introduced caps on how much customers can buy in one transaction in certain stores,” says Dominique, who estimates that over 200 different Frozen toys are available in retailers such as Toys R Us.

“From a marketing point of view, it demonstrates a new form of psychological promoting. When you don’t get what you want, you want it even more – that’s human nature. When it comes to delivering the Frozen merchandise, Disney is expertly applying restrictions to further heighten the attention and perceived scarcity for media hype.

On the other hand, while these stores aimed for exclusivity for their customers, it also pushed customers away to look for other alternatives.”

He may have a point. Last year, discount stores such as Poundworld and Poundland introduced budget Frozen toy variations to instant success. Frozen’s Elsa has also popped up to flog everything from cans of soup to loom band toys at your local Tesco.

‘This is one of those cases where the content won,” differs Marty Brochstein, senior vice president at the U.S. based International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association. “It was not so much about marketing, it’s just really a story that resonates, particularly with young girls.”

In 2015 Disney is set to release a new short film Frozen Fever with all the original characters, and speculation continues to build that the Mickey Mouse creator will announce a Frozen sequel to investors in November.

“We think Frozen has legs,” adds Jay Rusolo, chief financial officer at Disney, who said in a press call that Disney will deploy the marketing techniques of Frozen on other lucrative franchises such as Star Wars and Marvel in 2015. “We absolutely believe that this is the beginning of a long-term franchise for the company and that will reflect itself in all of our divisions, consumer products certainly not the least of which.”

So, marketers, don’t expect Frozen buzz to thaw anytime soon.



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