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Five Marketing Lessons from a Day in Disneyland – #2: The Disney Bubble

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Disney is more like a destination ski resort than I thought.

As such, a day in the park a few weeks ago taught me some very interesting lessons about why they are so successful as a business.

Here’s one of those lessons.

Resort Owned
As I walked through the park, the shops, the lines, you know what I couldn’t buy? Something that wasn’t made by Disney.

All the hats, all the shirts, all the watches, purses, sunglasses, hoodies, jackets, and umbrellas you could ever desire (or need during the day), all made and branded by Disney. No Polo, no Patagonia, no Nike, just the manufacturing cost and retail price with a splash of branding with every sale.

If you spend money on an accessory, they’ve made sure as much of that as possible will go toward their bottom line, brand, and experience. They’ve created a Disney bubble.

Resort Owned?
Wandering the SIA floor last year reminded me a lot of the shops I saw around Disneyland. Resorts provide this high cost, high risk business and activity onto which thousands of retailers have built tangential models.

If these models work, it makes me wonder what would happen if a resorts tried to take a bigger, more direct slice of the retail pie. For example, why can’t I buy a Squaw-brand jacket and pants combo? Why can’t I buy a Killington brand snowboard or set of poles, built specifically for the conditions by a local upstart name, that can be featured in shops and packaged with season passes?

Is there a way to turn a resort brand into a gear brand as well? Is there value in creating more of a Big Sky or Sun Valley or Sunday River bubble?

Resorts & Friends
For most of my ski-life I’ve just accepted that resorts sell and build dozens of brands besides their own in their shops.

Until two weeks ago, I had never considered the idea of resorts building a bubble that puts more of each ski-shop sale in their pockets and more branding on their skiers along the way.

I don’t know if it’s good or bad, right or wrong, but the idea of a Texan returning home with Vail on his lips and his new skis is an interesting one to chew on.

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