In my view, the Marvel Enterprises should pursue the strategic direction that will allow them to focus on marketing their lesser-known characters that have the potential to become hit and popular with the general public
It would be short sighted of Marvel to expect to forever capitalize on the popularity of its prominent characters because the taste and the preferences of the consumer are fickle and can change depending on latest trends and buzz. Moreover, they also run a risk of overexposing and flooding their prominent characters in the market and run the risk of losing interest of the consumers. There is also a possibility of external threats in the future as competitors like DC Comics can launch their “blockbuster” characters through movies and then compete with Marvel. Therefore, Marvel Enterprises needs a strategy that will not only let them to benefit from their “block-buster” characters but will also allow them to allocate resources to build a relationship with general public with their lesser known characters.
Marvel Enterprises can do so by adopting a holistic marketing framework i.e. to identify the new high value opportunities by categorizing in a hierarchal order the Marvel characters that have the potential to capture the market’s attention. Once these characters have been identified, assess how they can be efficiently created within a reasonable budget and rebranded to have the same universal appeal as Spider-Man. Marvel then can use ‘leveraging the secondary brand knowledge’ to build brand equity by linking their lesser known characters to the more prominent or successful ones. They can do this either by incorporating the lesser known characters alongside the main characters and create multi-character stories or adding references about the new lesser known characters to try and build a relationship and generate familiarity among the general public.
Why was Marvel’s turnaround so successful? Would you characterize that success as a fluke? Or do you view it as sustainable? Why? How?
Marvel’s turn around was very successful because its new leadership team came up with a smart strategy to monetize the content library via licensing characters as well as the other consumer products, whereas previously Marvel had embraced a strategy that focused on short term gains through which they capitalized on “speculative frenzy among collectors” by increasing number of titles in the print media at the expense of the quality.
Marvel’s success was not a fluke as it was based on a smart strategy based on long term vision, whereby they were able to correctly assess that they cannot just depend on the print media but they have to utilize newer forms of media such as motion pictures, television, and video games and integrate it with consumer products such as toys, apparel, collectibles and food. This decision was taken at a time where media itself was undergoing revolution with the progress in internet, IMAX, and social media. Comic books targeted a very limited segment of comic fan base but by licensing its characters, Marvel was able to tap in the benefits of outreach of the media and was even able to capture of the attention of people who have never read their comics before.
Thus, Marvel exponentially increased its customer base through broadcast media and then used consumer products to further reinforce their relationship with the public through integrated marketing communications strategy. Marvel did not let these short term gains to divert their focus as they have continued planning and managing career plans of their characters to foster long-term value for example schedule of movie releases, DVDs, toys, video games, as well as deals with fast food franchises. Marvel also took measures to improve the quality of the characters by hiring new writers so that they not only attract new consumers but also retain the old ones. Since the new management team also had prior experience in the toy industry there were successfully able to complement them in the creative segments of toy creation along with other segments mentioned above and required minimal capital investment doing it.
Marvel’s business model is sustainable because now it is not solely dependent on the teenagers and young adults from 13 to 23 years old but they appeal equally to all of the demographics. The broadcast media infused life into the static images of their characters through which they were able to leave a longer mark on their audiences and then by adding some drama quotient to the movies they made it go beyond male teenagers to the wholesome family entertainment category. From this, they will have access to this large market for years to come as long they remain consistent with the high quality and creativity of their characters and are able to timely assess any future threats, hence making the business model a very sustainable one.
Marvel should consider extending their current business model and venture into forming their own media production studio through external financing. This will enable them to create media content under their control which will allow them the luxury to portray their characters as they would like. In the current scenario, Marvel’s popular characters typically attract big studios that bring with them more experienced marketing team, big budget and high technical skills. However, these big studios tend to not heavily focus on the not so popular characters and typically allocate limited resources which leads to subpar quality media production.