Trend Alert: Netflix.shop

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest trends that are impacting the daily lives of 16-24s.

As the biggest businesses in entertainment enter the streaming wars with vast back-catalogues of content, Netflix faces the daunting task of retaining their place at the top of this fast-growing industry. With film and TV studios now choosing to debut their new releases on their own platforms rather than licence them to Netflix, this leaves the streaming company relying more than ever on its home-grown hits – Netflix Originals. This month, we got a taste of how they may look to monetise these in-house creations in the future, outside of simply using them to attract and retain subscribers.

When a Netflix show gains a cult following, it has the potential to become a brand in its own right. Perhaps the clearest example of this is the series Stranger Things, which earned a loyal fanbase and created an array of merchandising opportunities for Netflix. If you want to buy a Stranger Things t-shirt or hoodie, you have plenty of options – Topshop, H&M, Pull & Bear, Primark and Nike are among the retailers that have partnered with Netflix on Stranger Things branded clothing since the show debuted. However, the writers behind Stranger Things made clear in a 2019 interview that these partnerships were primarily promotional and not highly profitable.

Now, Netflix is cutting out the middleman by launching their own online store, Netflix.shop, to sell products inspired by their original shows and films. However, don’t expect basic logo mugs and keyrings: netflix.shop looks more like a trending D2C brand that would be getting buzz on social media and selling out its latest ‘drops’ in minutes. The range of products the store has launched with are the work of cool young designers like Jordan Bentley, the 22-year-old founder of Hypland, and Nathalie Nguyen, co-founder of virtual fashion brand Happy99, which we wrote about last year. Both Jordan and Nathalie’s products take inspiration from popular anime series on Netflix, such as Yasuke and Eden.

While Netflix.shop may simply look like a cool side project to build hype around some new anime releases, the launch has been viewed with great interest by ecommerce experts, who recognise the huge potential to diversify Netflix’s revenue streams. After all, Disney stepped onto Netflix’s turf with Disney+, so why shouldn’t Netflix take a shot at the many other spaces Disney plays in? They’re starting with merchandise, but 2PM’s Web Smith theorises that bringing the online entertainment brand into the physical world could be next, with live events and retail pop-ups among the possibilities.

There are few industries that have seen as much disruption as the streaming space in recent years, but Netflix will do well to remember their greatest strength: a product that the new generation of consumers unequivocally loves. After all, Netflix has won first place in our annual Youth 100 poll for the past two years in both the UK and US, beating beloved Gen Z brands from Instagram to Nike. Now that every entertainment business wants to become a streaming service, it’s time for Netflix to level up, and become so much more than that.

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