Following the success in America, Walt Disney decided to build a similar entertainment and vacation park in Europe. On April 12, 1992 the park was opened the first time as Euro Disney® Resort. Nowadays it is known as Disneyland® Paris, which is located close to Paris in France. It consists of two theme parks (Disneyland® Park and Walt Disney Studio Park), one entertainment district (Disney Village)1 and 14 hotels owned by Disneyland® Paris2 The opening of Disneyland® Paris was debated. People were afraid of being affected by the unhealthy life style and consumption of the Americans.
A French journalist wrote, “I wish with all my heart the rebels would set fire to [Euro] Disneyland” and a French philosopher said, “It is not America that is invading us. It is we who adore it, who adopt its fashions and above all, its words.”
All in all people were against the opening of Disneyland® Paris.3 How important is Disneyland® Paris at this moment? How is it using marketing? Who are the customers, Americans and/or Europeans? Is Disneyland® Paris a competitor in comparison to other amusement parks? Which challenges does it currently face? To find answers these questions, we will analyse Disneyland® Paris? performance through a SWOT-Analysis, which gives us an idea of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
As we come to a conclusion, we will also give an advice to Disneyland® Paris on what it can improve in order to perform better.
Disneyland® Paris is in a heterogeneous oligopoly.
A heterogeneous oligopoly is a market in which there are a few sellers, and a lot of buyers. The sellers are in competition with each other and they are well informed about the actions of other sellers. Therefore, the decisions firms make, mostly are affected by decisions that their competitors make, and the other way around. Disneyland® Paris is an actor in the market of amusement parks. In almost every European country you can find an amusement park.
However, not all of these parks are offering accommodations and dining services, which makes the trip more of an unique and exciting experience. This market is heterogeneous because, even though amusement parks seem the same, the feeling and experience in each one is completely different. Furthermore, only a few sellers can oversee decisions made by competitors. Next to that, there are many buyers. In 2013 14.9 million people visited Disneyland® Paris4. Disneyland® Paris’ position and performance
As mentioned before, Disneyland® Paris welcomed 14,9 million guests last year. This makes it the biggest tourist destination in Europe, especially compared to the Eiffel tower, which only attracts approximately 7 million visitors per year5. In comparison to other amusement parks
How many visitors did other amusement parks in Europe welcome in 20136? ‘De Efteling’ (Holland) – 4 million visitors per year
‘Movie Park Germany’ (Germany) – 1.3 million visitors per year ‘Europa Park’ (Germany) – 4.6 million visitors per year ‘Gardaland’ (Italy) – approximately 7 million visitors per year Set side by side to other amusement parks in Europe, Disneyland® Paris is doing really well on their visitors count.
Disneyland® Land has been taking losses in 2011, 2012 and 2013. So with respect to its profit, Disneyland® Paris is not doing that well at all. Their net loss was admittedly high in 2012, with 100.2 million euros. In 2013, they managed to cutback the loss to 78.2 million euros. See appendix, table 1. Notwithstanding, it is still a considerable amount of money. So how come that Disneyland® Paris, the biggest amusement park in Europe, is taking a loss? 14,9 million visitors per year seems to be a high amount of visitors, but in the past three years, the number of visitors per year has decreased and the hotel occupancy rate has gone down. Even though the amount of money that visitors spent (per visitor) has slightly gone up, it is not enough to make up for the decrease in visitors. See appendix, table
Despite the fact that Disneyland® Paris is the biggest tourist attraction in Europe, and even draws more visitors than the Eiffel Tower, it is not financially healthy. Disneyland® has again been taking a big loss. Disneyland® Paris has to change its strategy to achieve positive numbers and to start making profits.
What Disneyland® Paris offers to their guests is not only an amusement park, it is an experience. Disneyland offers two parks, Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park, with a total of 59 attractions. As stated by http://corporate.disneylandparis.com/: ‘Disneyland Park captures the wonder and fantasy of a classic Disney theme park while the Walt Disney Studios Park features the magic of movie-making.’ To make the Disneyland® Paris experience complete, it offers several hotels, 63 restaurants, sport facilities, a wellness center, baby-care service, life-size Disney characters and a lot of shows and parades in the classic park as well as in the studios park. The value that Disneyland® Paris offers is not just visit an amusement park with only fun rides, but an actual chance meet the characters from the Disney movies.
Visitors can hug and take a picture with their favorite movie characters. Besides Disneyland ® Paris made sure that its visitors stay in the Disney-feeling, even when having diner for example. Another part of the value that Disneyland® Paris offers is that it combines the Walt Disney Studios Park with the classic park. For example ‘De Efteling’ (Holland) does not have a movie-oriented park, and ‘Movie Park Germany’ (Germany) does not have a classic park, but only the movie segment. The fact is that the customer does not need to choose between those two options at Disneyland® Paris, but can have both at Disneyland® Paris. A lot of other amusement parks in France or Europe also have astonishing attractions, but Disneyland® Paris offers more than that.
Disneyland® Paris’ marketing mix
As mentioned before, Disneyland® Paris has a lot to offer. It serves their customers an amazing experience. Due to all this, the park had 14,9 million visitors last year. However, just like any other company, they used different tools to be this successful.
Disneyland® Paris offers several products and not just the amusement parks that people always seem to think about. Next to the two parks, they also own seven hotels owned by itself and seven partner hotels, including a free bus connection from and to the park. Most of the hotels have their own special features, for example tennis courts, swimming pools, fitness centers, and pony ride. Furthermore, the resort includes Disney Village, which is a street where many shops, bars, restaurants, and attractions are located. Next to all this, the resort also includes a golf complex. The target segments of Disneyland are mainly families with children. When customers come to Disneyland® Paris they expect to have a good time, not only for the children, but also for the parents. They might even want to feel as children themselves again.
Disneyland® Paris tries to give its visitors this experience using their parks, hotels and all the other features. Apart from feeling like a child again, some parents are looking for some relaxation and sports, which can be found at Disneyland® Paris as well. All these products are part of the well-known brand Disney, even the hotels. This big mixture of products sets Disneyland® Paris apart from other attraction parks. Even though other parks may have a brand and shops, most of them do not include a hotel. Even less parks accommodate a golf complex! These advantages make Disneyland® Paris to what it is: a very attractive get-away. Strengths: Disneyland® Paris offers a lot of different products. This makes it interesting for many target groups. It is not only for families with children, but can also be for groups of friends. Weaknesses: All the Disney items may become a bit too overwhelming.
When the decision to visit Disneyland® Paris is made, tickets need to be bought first. Tickets are sold on the website of Disneyland® or throughout a travelling agency. The prices for tickets can be found in the appendix, table 2. As seen in the table, the park gives some discounts. For example, instead of paying for three day, one day is given for free. When the intention is to stay for more than one day, the opportunity to book a hotel is available. The tickets are already included in the price of the room. The price of the hotel for one night and one adult range from €111.00 to €663.00. Children from the age of 3 till 11 can spend the night in the hotels for free. However, these prices are not fixed but can fluctuate according to the needs and wants of customers. The prices in restaurants differ.
They range from less than €15.- to over €25.-. This gives a wide range for customers and includes something for every target segment, rich or poor. Having an inexpensive dinner might sounds great to most parents, since often the food in (other) attraction parks is very expensive. Strengths: The low prices of some of the restaurants can be considered as a strength. Usually the food in attraction parks is very expensive. Also, parents often believe that the trip itself already cost much money, so having some inexpensive restaurants gives Disneyland an advantage. Weaknesses: The entrance price of the park is very high, much higher than those of other parks, which are usually around €30.-. Furthermore, the stay in hotels might be too expensive for some customers.
Disneyland uses several tools in promotion, such as the television, radio, advertisements and face-to-face communication. It sends out advertisement on the television on children and family senders. It also play ads on the radio, using the voice of Mickey Mouse. By reaching out to mostly children, it achieves its success. Next to these forms of promotion, it also posts advertisements for example in newspapers and children magazines. Also, there is the face-to-face communication. Visitors inform friends and family about their experience in Disneyland® Paris, making the listener start thinking about Disneyland® Paris positively or even negatively. Finally, there is a form of promotion that is not in the hands of Disneyland® Paris itself, namely the media. Reporters and journalists write about Disneyland. These articles can be positive, but can also be negative. Unfortunately for Disneyland, it is very hard to prevent negative news.
The only thing that Disneyland® Paris can do is to show the journalists are wrong with their writings after their publications. Strengths: Focussing commercials on children is a smart move. Children can be very powerful towards their parents’ spending. Which parent does not want to see his or her child happy? Disneyland® Paris is a fun experience and makes families bond. Weaknesses: Just like any other company, Disneyland can come across some negative media. Not only by journalists, but also people that have been in the park and have had a negative experience. All of them can start spreading the word about their experience. For example, in an article in The Independent, from May 6th 2010, which explains how employers of Disneyland® Paris have had accidents or committed suicide, due to some issues with the management of Euro Disney.
Disneyland® Paris is located very near to Paris, 32 kilometres to the east. This makes it a central point in Europe. It is well accessible by car, since the park is located near a high way. Across from the entrance of the two parks lies a train station, Marne la Vallee-Chessy. This train station has a direct high speed train service to cities like Bordeaux, Marseilles, Nice, Lyon and even Brussels. Also, the Eurostar services a direct line from London to this station. Another easy way to get to the park is to go buy bus, since there is a direct bus service provided from two international French airports, Charles De Gaulle International Airport and Orly Airport.
Strengths: Disneyland® Paris is easily accessible, which gives them a great advantage. Weaknesses: Disneyland® Paris is located in a place where the weather is very unpredictable. You are never a 100% certain whether the weather will be good or whether it will rain all day. Also the surrounding villages might experience some troubles with Disneyland and its facilities. For example the train passing by only 200 meters from a city like Chessy. This can cause nuisance for the people living there.
An external analysis concentrates on all external variables that influence a company’s performance. They determine a company’s success, its chances and risks. Therefore it is a very important task for marketers to know the environment in case to adapt to trends. Marketers need to know and understand them in case to adjust their strategies. The external analysis is split up into two parts, which are called microenvironment and macroenvironment.
The microenvironment is about “[…] the actors close to the company that affect its ability to serve its customers […]” (Kotler/Armstrong 2012, p. 66). In order to handle the customers, a company?s task is to build up a good relationship with those actors, that consist of other companies, suppliers, marketing intermediaries, competitors, publics and its customers.
As mentioned above a company has to create value for its customers. In order to do so, Disneyland® Paris has to know its customers’ needs and wants. First of all Disneyland® Paris has to divide the market into smaller segments. Afterwards it has to decide which groups to target. There are many variables to use to split up a market into smaller groups and to decide whether to enter or not. In the following consumer analysis we look at the main variables like geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioural. 1 Disneyland® Paris? consists of a consumer market, which means Disneyland® Paris is targeting individuals and households buying services and goods. The consumer market is a combination of a local and international market. Even Disneyland® Paris is located in France, using the geographic segmentation, which divides a market into different nations, states, regions, countries, cities or even neighbourhoods, its main target group is Europe. As we can see in table 4 (see apendix), Disneyland® Paris? target market consists of seven major groups and the rest of the world. T
he table describes the major groups with the share in percentages from 2011 to 2013. The groups are France (51%), United Kingdom (14%), Spain (8%), Belgium (6%), Netherlands (6%), Italy (3%), Germany (3%) and the rest of the world (9%). With certainty we can conclude these are the biggest groups, not only through the table, but also through the official website which is presented in many languages. 9 A company also needs to make a decision whether for example which age, gender, family size, income they want to reach. These variables belong to the demographic segmentation. The book “Principles of Marketing by Kotler and Armstrong…p 191” says: “Demographic factors are the most popular bases for segmenting customer groups. One reason is that consumer needs, wants, and usage rates often vary closely with demographic variables.” (Kotler/Armstrong 2012, p. 191) Transferring this strategy to Disneyland® Paris? customers, we can easily see its target groups within the geographical segmentation. Disneyland® Paris is mainly focusing on families with children within the age of 3 to 15 years10, which remains to be a problem as analysed later on.
Secondary it also provides services and attractions to adolescents and older generations. As we have analysed in the first part of the paper, Disneyland® Paris offers services and attractions for people in each life-cycle stage.11 As a result we can see Disneyland® Paris is not mainly focusing on children, it is primarily focusing on family activities as a whole. The family size does not play a big role, because also singles, classes or just big groups are welcome to visit the world of Disneyland® Paris. Other variables are psychographic and behavioural. Disneyland® Paris is targeting consumers who are looking for adventurous and unforgettable holidays, which belongs in the behavioural segmentation.
Disneyland® Paris requires visitors who are enthusiastic, active and dreamer. To achieve holidays like that people has to pay a high amount of money, therefore Disneyland® Paris is targeting the working class with a higher income. All in all Disneyland® Paris typical customers are not only young families with their children, also adolescents and groups, all from Europe. Because of the fact Disneyland® Paris is quite expensive it is focusing on families with higher income, who want to experience a unique and adventurous entertainment.
A company in the same business or in a similar business is called a competitor. In order to be successful, a company has to grant higher value than its competitors do. The same applies for Disneyland® Paris. What are its competitors and how strong are they? In Disneyland® Paris? case its competitors are not only located in France, also in Europe (compare table 5). The amusement park business is growing at a steady rate. Still Disneyland® Paris is the market leader in this business. To evaluate its competitors in this market, it is necessary to take a more detailed look at them. One way is to look at the customers the amusement parks are targeting. Those parks who have the same target groups are closer competitors for Disneyland® Paris. As mentioned above, Disneyland® Paris? target groups are families with children and adolescents, who want to make a unique experience in connection with a longer holiday stay in Disneyland® Paris.
The majority of amusement parks are listed in table 3, which are focusing on customers who just want to stay for a day. Therefore Disneyland® Paris and the other parks in comparison have mostly different target groups and goals. Another factor are the yearly guests. The main competitors are ?De Efteling? in the Netherlands with 4.2 million visitors and ?Europa Park? with 4.6 million visitors in Germany. Even if Disneyland® Paris has twice as much guests (16 million) (see table 5), those theme parks have the same strategy in creating an overall theme-park atmosphere while targeting the same groups (families with their children and adolescents).
Nonetheless, Disneyland® Paris has the highest market share and is definitely the market leader in this business. Its overall appearance with the whole Disney World makes the park unique in comparison to ?De Efteling? and ?Europa Park?. But it is very important we do not leave out of account the fact, Disneyland® Paris is struggling from its debts and losses, as mentioned before. While Disneyland® Paris is recording losses, the other two parks are recording profits and performing better financially.12 Disneyland® Paris needs to watch out in order to stay the market leader.
Disneyland® Paris is using an effective brand strategy. These results in having a strong image of the Disneyworld in the customers? minds and reaching a higher value people put on Disneyland® Paris. Besides, there are four basic competitive strategies used by marketers. The first one is called overall cost leadership, which tries to achieve the highest market share while having the lowest costs as possible. Another one is focusing on creating a high differentiation within the companys? product line (differentiation). Some companies also choose to serve just a few market segments instead of reaching the whole market. The fourth strategy is called middle-of-the-road which combines the strategies. Company performances are showing they are performing worse with it.13 While following one of these strategies – overall cost leadership, differentiation, focus or middle-of-the-road- companies want to give a superior value through value disciplines. Introducing all of them, operational excellence concentrates on reducing “[…] costs and creat[ing] a lean and efficient value-delivery system.” (Kotler/Armstrong 2012, p. 537) Another strategy is to concentrate on the needs and wants of the target groups (customer intimacy), while the last discipline called product leadership is always offering new and better products to their customers.
Disneyland® Paris? strategy is to combine the differentiation strategy with the customer intimacy strategy. Through the analysis in part one, where we have seen the financial debts of Disneyland® Paris, it is definitely not pursuing the overall cost leadership strategy. Instead Disneyland® Paris is focusing to expand its park while creating new products and services for all stages of the age life circle. This implies for the differentiation strategy. Doing this, Disneyland® Paris has to know its customers’ needs and wants very well, which results in customer intimacy.
Reaching this goal Disneyland® Paris is spending a high amount in research to develop modern products and services.14 It is marketing its amusement mark through digital media and internet to reach the adolescents and teens. Disneyland® Paris owns the position as the product leader in its business, because it is always innovating and creating new products to keep its park attractive. It is steadily offering leading-edge products and services, not only to reach new customers also to convince customers to visit Disneyland® Paris again.
In comparison to the micro-environmental analysis the macro-environmental analysis is not about the close actors around the company, it is about the larger societal forces as demographic, economics, natural, technological, political, and cultural forces, that effect the microenvironment. The trends of the factors listed before form the opportunities and threats companies have to deal with15. In case of Disneyland® Paris the demographic change is one of the most important topics. The demography is looking at the populations’ structure and its shift. As we see in figure 1 (see appendix) the economy experienced an enormous decreasing trend in the birth rates, which resulted in an aging society. Smaller family sizes are the aftereffect of this trend. More important is to take a look how the demographic change will go on in the future.
Figure 2 (see appendix) gives us an economic prediction of how the current situation affects the population structure in the future until 2060. Figure 2 (see appendix) shows the development from a bell shaped population towards a form like an urn. This is an indication of an aging population with less births. In 2011 the biggest age group was defined of people in the age of 15 – 55 years. In 2060 it might happen, this group becomes less and the age group of 60 – 90 years will increase. Referring to Disneyland® Paris, as we analysed earlier in the paper, the main target group of Disneyland® Paris are young families with children and adolescents. Therefore the demographic trend is a threat it has to deal with. Disneyland® Paris has to change its structure towards satisfying older generations instead of focusing only on children and adolescents in order not to lose a high amount of customers. In addition Disneyland® Paris has to experience a price increase in non-renewable resources such like oil and water, which belongs in the category of the natural environment.
The price increase in oil in the last years is obvious16. Through higher prices for the resources, Disneyland® Paris has higher costs. Disneyland® Paris could increase its ticket prices, but how would customers react? Disneyland® Paris is saying by itself it has to learn how to use its resources mainly water, paper and energy more wisely and efficient17. Even Disneyland® Paris is geographically not affected by the consequences of the climate change, it is fighting against it.
In its ?2013 Reference Document” Disneyland® Paris is saying it helps ”[…] through its environmental policy, in particular with its water consumption initiatives and its efforts in preventing and fighting pollution discharges.” Also within the social environment Disneyland® Paris is putting a high emphasis on negotiating contracts with its suppliers. Disneyland® Paris is listing its requirements in the ?2013 Reference Document? (p. 144): “Not to use child labor or forced labor;
To treat each employee with dignity and respect and refrain from adopting discriminatory practices in hiring and employment; To respect employees’ right to associate, organize and bargain collectively; To provide employees with a safe and healthy work environment and to ensure that all accommodations provided to employees comply with health and safety standards; To apply laws and regulations relating to wages and working time, environment, manufacturing, pricing and sales and distribution of merchandise, Not to use subcontractors to manufacture Disney products or components without a prior written agreement […]
When a breach in standards is identified, the supplier must correct it or stop producing for [Disneyland® Paris].” These points are showing the high social responsibility Disneyland® Paris cares about. Besides this it is also trying to market its products child-oriented, improving its food in quality and safety and provides customer health and safety. Disneyland® Paris also agreed to support the French economy and the employment18, but we won’t elaborate about that too much right now.
Strategic advice and conclusion
As analysed in the paper there are many threats Disneyland® Paris has to deal with. But, threats are not necessary bad for the company, they can also constitute opportunities to improve its strategy. Mentioned before, the demographic change is one of the biggest threats. Disneyland® Paris has to change its concept towards older age groups in case of not losing customers. Disneyland® Paris has already done a lot in this direction offering products and services to those age groups.19 This does not mean Disneyland® Paris is safe, it still need to analyse its older customers? needs and wants in order to innovate products and services satisfying them. One advice is to improve the arrival and departure. Even though Paris and therefore Disneyland® Paris are easy to reach, it can be still improved. An idea is using the international train Thalys. Thalys is offering many routes through five European countries – namely Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and United Kingdom, stopping in 31 cities20.
Disneyland® Paris could cooperate with this company to create new packages (combining Disney-tickets with traintickets) for an easier and cheaper arrival/departure. Referring to the countries mentioned above, mainly these countries are presenting the target groups within Europe. As we analysed Disneyland® Paris need to reach new customers. A possibility is to advertise itself more in eastern European countries such like Poland and Russia, which population became more willing to spend money on holidays. As we can see on Disneyland® Paris? website, it does not offer its official website in those languages (www.disneylandparis.com). This is a point that can be improved to reach completely new target groups. Not only those countries seem to be interesting, also emerging countries such like south-western European countries.
In order to reach them, Disneyland® Paris could try to convince Thalys to expend its routes towards these countries. Another factor is Disneyland® Paris seriously has to keep its prices stable or even lower them. Of course it is not that easy to reduce them while resource prices and therefore costs are increasing, but Disneyland® Paris could building its own wind farm using renewable resources to produce own energy. This fact will not only contribute in lowering prices, it will bring a new philosophy that pays attention to the environment and it earns the trust of those people who are environmental conscious. Disneyland® Paris can include this point, in case they implement this strategy, in their advertisements. Coming away from lowering costs and prices, Disneyland® Paris can improve its image through higher sociable responsibility.
The main advice giving Disneyland® Paris is to introduce a sensitization campaign, which is called cause-related marketing. “Cause-related marketing has become a primary form of corporate giving. It lets companies “do well by doing good” by linking purchases of the company?s products or services with fund-raising for worthwhile causes or charitable organizations.” (Kotler/Armstrong 2012, p. 85) Considering that Disneyland® Paris is focused on families and children, for every ticket sold a portion can be donated to a charity for poor children. Not only Disneyland® Paris would benefit of this marketing concept through higher profits, also children living in the underclass are better off. In one sentence: Disneyland® Paris would not only give smiles to children visiting the amusement park, it also gives smiles to children that are not experiencing the unique and exciting dream world of Disneyland® Paris.
?De Efteling?, official website
http://www.efteling.com/NL/Over-de-Efteling/Pers-en-Publicaties.html 19-02-2014 21:36
De Efteling, Press Information 2013
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-dark-side-of-disneyland-paris-1964505.html 16-02-2014 15:39
Disneyland® Paris, article about Disneyland® Paris? decline http://disneyatwork.com/2013/08/is-disneyland-paris-in-decline/
Disneyland® Paris, brochure
%202012.pdf 19-02-2014 14:23
Disneyland® Paris, financial performance
Disneyland® Paris, overall information
http://corporate.disneylandparis.com/about-our-company/the-narrative-of-numbers/index.xhtml 20-02-2014 18:02
EURO DISNEY S.C.A. (2013): 2013 Reference Document
Philip Kotler & Gary Armstrong (2012, 14/E): Principles of Marketing, Global Edition, Pearson, Harlow, England
Philip Kotler & Gary Armstrong (2014, 15/E): Principles of Marketing, Global Edition, Pearson, Harlow, England