The force of the Star Wars’ business model

Kirsten Hawke

From a business perspective, it’s universe-shattering that a product that first rolled out in 1977 still captivates the punters and successfully enthralls a whole new generation.

BUSINESS buddy has investigated how Star Wars resonates with people who weren’t born when the first movie was released, without alienating those who are old enough to be their grandparents.

The force of the Star Wars’ business model

If you’re not a fan of the Star Wars’ saga you may have missed the pre-Christmas excitement when The Last Jedi hit New Zealand movie screens and was another box office smash.

From a business perspective, it’s universe-shattering that a product that first rolled out in 1977 still captivates the punters and successfully enthralls a whole new generation.

BUSINESS buddy has investigated how Star Wars resonates with people who weren’t born when the first movie was released, without alienating those who are old enough to be their grandparents.

1.       Start with a good product

First up, when George Lucas created the science fiction movie more than four decades ago he blew audiences’ minds with special effects movie-goers had never seen before.

With an ambitious vision Lucas pushed the technological boundaries to blast audiences into a state of exhilaration and gave them an escape from their everyday lives.

They could be in a galaxy far, far away for only a few dollars.

Immediately, society became divided into those who have or have not seen Star Wars, which developed a cult-like status for the movie’s fans.

People like to know they belong to something and for many humans, the Star Wars sub-culture is a perfect fit – even if other people don’t get them.

2.       Give it a go and learn from mistakes

Once it was clear the movie was a smash, the numerous owners of the Star Wars franchise built on the success and had a go at some new initiatives.

Some worked, and some didn’t but all of them created a conversation with the fans, media and movie industry.

The new directors were prepared to try something new, accept the challenge and bear the criticism that was thrown at them.

3.       Maintaining fandom loyalty

During the evolution of Star Wars the numerous directors, six to-date, have invigorated the original storyline, messed with it and returned to some of the core plotlines.

All these changes could have alienated the fandom but instead, they seemed to have such strong ownership of a product they love that they spread the force with their constant chatter.

The franchise has built customer loyalty by listening to the criticism, responding to it and even ignoring it.

Social media has allowed the relationship to be nurtured and has been fully embraced, evidenced by more than 49,000 Twitter followers recently engaging with Rian Johnson who directed The Last Jedi.


 

The key seems to be sticking to the core brand promise of delivering heroes vs villains, which is what Star Wars followers expect and love.  

And, bringing back some of the original content and characters in acknowledgement of the first generation of fans, keeps them coming back for more.

4.       Keep them guessing

Each movie has thrown in some new and unpredictable ideas, and the directors have kept that innovation rocking along.

They haven’t just rolled out the same special effects, characters and storylines year-after-year.

Far out – they haven’t even maintained the chronological order, which means the fans just have to buy in to the latest release to critique what has been done this time.

5.       The complete marketing shebang 

There’s unlikely to be a Star Wars fans that doesn’t have some sort of branded gear that passively promotes the franchise.

It could be a pen, t-shirt, toys, Lego, books, computer games and so much more that maintains the interest and awareness of Star Wars.

Fans can even dress up and attend Armageddon, where they’ll meet characters and other followers of the force.

Don’t forget the advertising dollars and pitches to media that are all carefully timed to promote the heck out of a brand that you would think is so well known – that nothing much needs to be done.

BUSINESS buddy suggests entrepreneurs could learn a thing or to from the brains behind Star Wars.

Even with a backlash from fans – they still rock up to the next movie. Have the courage to do it.

“Do or do not. There is no try” – Yoda



Kirsten Hawke