Walt Disney Company Marketing Mix (4Ps) Analysis

Disney marketing mix, 4P, product, place, promotion, price, strategies, entertainment media business management case study analysis
A Disney Outlet store in Vaughan Mills, Ontario, Canada. The Walt Disney Company’s marketing mix (4Ps) uses and enables branding effectiveness that supports the firm’s competitive advantages in the media and entertainment, amusement parks and resorts, and consumer goods retail markets. (Photo: Public Domain)

The Walt Disney Company’s marketing mix or 4Ps is a determinant of the company’s competitive performance in various industries. The marketing mix is the set of strategies and tactics employed in reaching the company’s target market: Product, Place, Promotion, and Price (The 4P). In this business analysis case of Disney, the 4Ps keep evolving, especially the “Product” element, considering the company’s continuous creation and adjustment of its products. An effective marketing mix contributes to the corporation’s competitiveness against other businesses, such as Viacom, Sony, Time Warner, and Comcast. This marketing mix is generally applied to the international operations of Disney and its subsidiaries, such as Pixar Animation Studios and Marvel Studios. This general 4P application is based on the synergistic codependence of the enterprise and its divisions/subsidiaries that are part of The Walt Disney Company’s corporate structure. Thus, the conglomerate’s marketing mix is designed according to the various needs of its diverse operations in the parks and resorts, mass media and entertainment, and consumer goods and retail industries.

Disney’s marketing mix involves the promotion of the same or highly related products and brands across the company’s divisions and subsidiaries. For example, Marvel movies are promoted through the inclusion of their characters in Disney Outlet stores. This strategic approach to the 4Ps exploits business strengths, such as the ones discussed in the SWOT analysis of The Walt Disney Company. In this way, the company applies an integrated approach to manage global marketing needs.

Disney’s Products (Product Mix)

In this part of the marketing mix, the company’s products are outlined as groups composing the product mix. As a global conglomerate, The Walt Disney Company has an increasing variety of product lines beyond its initial media and entertainment products. The strategic acquisition of other businesses is a major factor in this diversification of the company’s product mix. Disney now manages such diverse products under the following categorization:

  1. Media Networks (cable, television, and radio programs)
  2. Parks and Resorts (Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Paris, themed hotels, and others)
  3. Studio Entertainment (motion pictures, direct-to-video content, musical recordings, and stage plays)
  4. Consumer Products & Interactive Media (Books, magazines, comic books, video games, merchandise, and online video content)

Disney’s products were initially only in the media and entertainment industry. However, through expansion and diversification, the company has added products in the parks and resorts industry, and the retail industry through the sale of consumer goods in its amusement parks, stores, and other places. This part of Disney’s marketing mix is expected to continue evolving, alongside strategic changes in business operations and trends in the global market. For example, the conglomerate’s future acquisition of other firms could lead to more products and new product lines. In this way, this part of the marketing mix reflects the degree of Disney’s business diversification.

Place/Distribution in Disney’s 4P

This part of the marketing mix presents the places that the company uses to strategically distribute its products to customers in the entertainment and mass media, consumer goods and retail, and parks and resorts markets. The nature of these industries and markets determines the places or venues that Disney uses to distribute its products. For example, the physical nature of merchandise items, such as books and magazines, means that the company needs channels that allow for the transport and storage of these products to target customers in the international market. Disney’s product distribution involves the following places:

  1. Movie theaters
  2. Disney stores (Disney Baby, Disney Gallery, and others)
  3. Official websites (Go.com and others)
  4. Mobile apps
  5. Licensees and other parties (cable, satellite, telecommunications service providers, and others)

The places that Disney uses to distribute its products are varied, addressing the diversity of the product mix. In this regard, this part of the company’s marketing mix is highly dependent on the kinds of products offered. For example, movies are distributed through movie theaters and multinational digital content distribution companies, such as Apple Inc. It is noteworthy that licensees and other parties are the group of places or channels responsible for generating the biggest portion of Disney’s revenues, such as ESPN television programming revenues via cable networks. This system involving third parties and company-owned venues, such as theme parks and resorts, makes the company’s 4Ps a strategic combination of businesses for effectively managing maximum reach throughout the global market.

Promotion in Disney’s Marketing Mix (Promotional Mix)

This part of the marketing mix considers the company’s communications strategies and tactics for target customers. The Walt Disney Company uses different strategies, depending on the kind of product being promoted. However, advertising is the most prominent and readily observed among these strategies, such as in the case of Marvel movie advertisements. The business manages operational effectiveness in reaching a multinational audience through a combination of international, regional, and local implementations of marketing communications. Disney’s marketing communications mix involves the following strategies and tactics:

  1. Advertising
  2. Direct selling
  3. Sponsorship
  4. Sales promotion
  5. Public relations

Advertising is a traditional strategy and major contributor to Disney’s marketing communications effectiveness. For example, the company uses advertisements for its movies and parks and resorts (especially for special events and occasions). Direct selling efforts include direct communications with other firms for various opportunities that Disney offers, such as brand exposure in Marvel and Pixar movies, and in Disneyland parks and resorts. Also in this part of the marketing mix is sponsorship, which refers to the company’s sponsoring of various activities, such as community development programs of nonprofit organizations. This kind of sponsorship promotes the company’s business and helps manage stakeholders’ expectations, as detailed in The Walt Disney Company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies. The company also uses sales promotion, which is observable in its Disney Outlet stores and package deals that come with discounts. In addition, public relations efforts are aimed at strategically maintaining a strong image for the company’s brand, which is among the most valuable in the global market. This part of The Walt Disney Company’s marketing mix presents a diverse approach that capitalizes on the conglomerate’s attractive products, deep pockets, and network of business partners.

Prices and Pricing Strategies in The Walt Disney Company’s 4Ps

Considering the various industries and markets of Disney, this part of the marketing mix involves pricing strategies and corresponding price points and price ranges that are differentially determined based on market and industry conditions. For example, differences in growth, saturation, risks, business opportunities, and other managerial concerns lead to various pricing strategies in the media and entertainment, parks and resorts, and consumer goods and retail markets. Disney applies the following pricing strategies for its diverse product mix:

  1. Market-oriented pricing strategy
  2. Value-based pricing strategy

The Walt Disney Company applies the market-oriented pricing strategy for products like movies, which are priced according to prevailing industry standards. The value-based pricing strategy is used for various products, such as memorabilia at the company’s parks and resorts. Value-based prices are set according to the actual or perceived value that Disney’s products have for target customers. Through the value-based pricing strategy, the multinational business optimizes its prices as long as it maintains a strong brand image and effective marketing campaigns. The strategies in this part of Disney’s marketing mix are intended to maximize profit margins, especially in situations where the company’s products have weak substitutes.

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