Disney Goes Upscale
By Tom Ryan
Walt Disney Co. is branching out into furniture, linens and even wine as part of an effort to sell more upscale products.
Wine and cheese platters are being launched at Costco based on Disney’s new animated film Ratatouille, a tale of a rat who wants to become a French chef. A chardonnay, from the Burgundy region in France and bearing the Ratatouille name and likeness, will sell for $12.99. The Ratatouille program also includes bedding, cookware and tableware for kids and adults sold at Sur La Table. Carrefour will carry Ratatouille-branded water, tomato sauces, milk, cheese and yogurt.
“Given that so much of the movie is set in a kitchen, it’s fairly logical to go from there to a high-end collection,” Disney Consumer Products chairman Andy Mooney told Reuters.
But non-character – or Disney logo – merchandise appears to be a bigger upscale opportunity.
Disney began its upscale push by giving clothing designers access to its archives for inspiration. The result, the Disney Vintage casual couture line, eventually helped drive mass apparel sales.
Lines of jewelry and home furnishings – including high thread-count linens, silverware and china – as well as wedding gowns and furniture inspired by founder Walt Disney’s life and era followed. This fall, lighting products from Minka Group will debut. Next year, bath and bedding from Dan River and outdoor tabletops from Zak Designs will launch.
No Disney characters appear in many of the luxe products, although designers often draw on color schemes, background art or themes from Disney animated movies.
Upscale positioning marks a switch for a brand known for sweatshirts, stuffed animals and touristy collectibles.
“We very much want to move upscale because we think moving upscale is good for the brand,” said Mr. Mooney. “It’s turned out to be better than we anticipated for the business.”
Michael Stone, chief executive of the Beanstalk Group, said Disney is wise to reach both ends of the price spectrum.
“It’s a multi-channel strategy,” Mr. Stone told Reuters. “Disney is not abandoning the mass market, as a matter of fact, they are mining it, not with a shovel, with earth movers.”
“Disney is a fascinating brand for core consumers. It has tremendous pull and value,” said Michael Silverstein, a senior partner with The Boston Consulting Group. “It is not a luxury by old definitions. It is not for aristocrats only. But it is a brand that the upper- and upper-middle income consume at a high rate.”
Discussion Questions: What do you think of the potential for Disney in more upscale products? What are some challenges for Disney in building an upscale presence? How do you think it will affect its mass business?
- Vintage Mickey: Disney, Seeking Adults, To Market Wine – Dow Jones Newswire
- Disney cooks up luxury branding with Ratatouille – Reuters