3 Business Lessons From Netflix, Which Now Sells Clothes

Disney started with content — really amazing content. But it wasn’t long that these cartoons became brands of their own, with huge fan followings. And it makes sense that now Netflix — who is enjoying the same cult-like following for many of its original shows — will sell merchandise that reflect fan favorites. According to Bloomberg now Netflix will start selling Stranger Things sweatshirts. Netflix struck licensing deals for everything from coffee mugs to versions of Monopoly and Clue. And similar to the fan show Talking Dead that’s a talk show devoted to discussion of the hit series Walking Dead, Netflix will launch talk shows about the very shows that people love.  “multi-faceted media empire.”

Here’s 3 lessons we can learn from this strategic customer experience move from Netflix.

1. It was once said “religion is the opiate of the masses.” Today content is the opiate of the masses.

People don’t simply want to buy stuff anymore. Consumers can easily buy anything anywhere. The cost of acquiring products and the effort to acquire those products has gone down, so there is less appeal to owning those products. In fact there is a trend of simplifying, of scaling down. I think I even watched a “Tiny House” documentary on … Netflix! Back to the point, millennials would much prefer to engage in experiences like amazing storytelling over buying stuff. If you grew up in the 70s or 80s, by the time you left college or were in your early 30s you were finally able to get more tailored content. You didn’t have to watch commercials anymore. There is no greater industry that caters to these Gen X and Gen Yers than the media industry. And these same superusers of Netflix care more about storytelling and experiences than things. And a great way to deliver these experiences that take you somewhere else is rich content and storytelling. It was once said that “religion is the opiate of the masses.” Today content is the opiate of the masses —and the masses want to participate in the content religiously. They want to engage at 7am and 2am. There is certainly an opportunity to engage that consumer around their preferred content with a product that makes them feel something when they use it. Through use of the products they are now part of the stories they love so much.

2. Lead With Storytelling, Follow With Product Creation

Usually brands launch with product, and add stories to those products later to bring meaning to the consumer. In fact there’s an entire industry of people who take boring products and make them into magical must-haves. It’s called advertising and most of us (as consumers) really hate it. The content world has the ability to lead with storytelling and follow with products — and it can be much more powerful. Lead with storytelling, follow with product creation. Netflix launches with meaningful stories, and adds products later. Stranger Things was a break-out hit — it was unexpected. It’s actually much easier to test different content and later create a community around the content. After an understanding of the viewer Netflix can figure out what products consumers will enjoy. The amazing thing about Netflix is the way consumers run with Netflix content. After Stranger Things came out the internet went crazy with meme’s about the characters. Here’s one even I shared on my instagram “In A World of 10s Be An Eleven.” These characters mean something to people. I personally would love a sweater with this character on it. She’s a tough little girl who doesn’t take any nonsense. Who can’t get behind that idea?

3. Bring Great User Experiences To Everything You Do

Everything about Netflix is highly customer experience focused. In fact just yesterday I filled out a Net Promoter Score survey on my television offered by Netflix. And Netflix is the benchmark for making life easier on the customer. The company sells in-context customer experiences. Meaning every time you open Netflix it simply picks up where you left off. Netflix knows a lot about you, and it cares about your seamless experience. Netflix will now use that knowledge to seamlessly sell you products.

We watched Disney grow from a content company into an astonishing empire. Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruises, Disney Stores — it’s likely Netflix will take a similar path and become a media empire. Who wants to go on a Stranger Things cruise? I would.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author of More Is More, and keynote speaker. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here. Go farther and create knock your socks-off customer experiences in your organization by enrolling in her new Customer Experience School.

Share this post