Disney Loses Potential $2.7M in Missed Amazon Sales on “Baby Yoda”​

According to recent research by The Hustle and Amazon merchant tool Jungle Scout, the term “baby yoda” was searched over 500k times on Amazon alone this past month, following the success of the cute little guy debuting on Disney+’s Star Wars: The Mandalorian last month. That’s a 40,874% increase over the previous 30-day period.

Don’t believe it? Start typing “baby…” on Amazon and you’ll see just how much it’s trending:

The report also claims that the top 47 “Baby Yoda” products on Amazon, which are largely fake and unofficial, have sold an average of 1,842 times each, at an average of $23 per product. Through some estimation and fancy math, Jungle Scout estimates this will have cost Disney roughly $2.7M in lost revenue during this holiday season, at the very least. Though that’s not even the craziest part.

Adding to the chaos is the fact that the term “baby yoda” was never even trademarked by Disney, as it’s not technically his name in the show, leaving the door wide open for sellers to reap the benefits through this legal loophole. According to World Trademark Review, “there are currently zero applications filed for BABY YODA by Disney or any third-parties.”

With peak toy buying season in full swing, these millions of dollars of missed opportunity also impacted toymaker Hasbro, who typically creates the majority of Disney products. Apparently, due to the risk of leaked information, not even they knew that “baby yoda” existed until it was too late.

Now, the first toy line featuring the little guy isn’t scheduled to arrive until May 2020, though it’s already rated as the #1 best seller in “Plush Figure Toys,” as shown below.

Think back to ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ in 1996: sales from that toy alone QUINTUPLED annual revenue for Tyco following its release.

Jon Favreau, the creator of The Mandalorian, told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Part of what people really value is to be surprised and delighted, and I think that’s becoming all too rare. It’s very difficult to keep secrets about projects you’re working on.

By holding back on that one product, we knew that we may have had the disadvantage of not having toys available day and date, but what we got in exchange was excitement surrounding the character, because everybody felt like they discovered him together.”

So, what’s the biggest takeaway for other brands here?

Whether you’re just getting into e-commerce or a massive brand such as Disney, you need to ensure your strategic roadmaps are aligned across the organization. Had the production teams and Disney+ product teams communicated their long-term launch strategy with the merchandising and e-commerce teams, “baby yoda” could have been on their roadmap to be launched during the holidays and this entire pitfall might have been avoided.

Do you think this was a smart move on Disney’s part to keep “baby Yoda” a secret and risk missing the holiday shopping season, or was it they simply had no idea how popular he’d become? Will they be able to make up for these sales in 2020? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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About the Author: By day, Justin Kelsey is an AVP of Digital Strategy at Bank of America, serving to drive innovation and shape the future of the bank’s digital customer experience. By night, Justin is the co-founder of Drone Multimedia, as well as the founder of VAXA Digital, a digital agency focused on scroll-stopping strategy and creative for e-commerce companies. Prior to these roles, Justin worked as a digital strategy consultant at Accenture Interactive and interned at Amazon.

All views expressed are his own.

Creating scroll-stopping video ads for e-comm brands. Founder @ vaxadigital.com. Former strategy consultant sharing my thoughts on advertising and productivity.

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