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Brand Strategy Template for the New World of Binge Watching

Brand Strategy Template for the New World of Binge Watching

How Top Shows like Netflix’s Wednesday Shape Fans’ Real Lives

Binge watching as a practice is changing the consumption and production of entertainment at a frenzied pace. An intense binge-watching session immerses fans in a show’s storylines and characters, while leaving them eager for more. This brand strategy template shows the opportunities for brands in this new world of media.

Insight to Action recently featured S’noods, a food innovation strategy example that was prototyped on a Netflix reality TV show. The snack idea was so popular, fans funded a Kickstarter to bring it to store shelves.

Brand Strategy Template Example:
Netflix’s Wednesday

Netflix series Wednesday is a another great example of an instant binge classic and useful to illustrate our brand strategy template. Released in 2022, with season two promised in 2023, the series description goes:

“Smart, sarcastic and a little dead inside, Wednesday Addams investigates a murder spree while making new friends — and foes — at Nevermore Academy. | 29th Annual SAG Award Nominee

“Tim Burton directs this delightfully dark series starring Jenna Ortega (‘You’) from the creators of ‘Smallville.’”

Just how successful was this show? Wednesday outshone Netflix’s previous binge winner in its first week:

“The show managed to surpass Stranger Things by garnering 341.23 million hours viewed in its first week, becoming the most watched English-language series in that amount of time for the streamer.”

After engrossing themselves in the eight available episodes during week one, fans apparently felt the need to express their intense interest in the show and characters. They took the show from screen to real life. With fashion articles advising how to “channel her sinister aesthetic,” and the rise of entire craft cottage industries, Wednesday Addams and her friends aren’t moldering in the darkness waiting for season two (even if she would prefer that).

Brand Strategy Template:
The Characters Are the Customer Segments

At Insight to Action, we are often engaged for customer segmentation consulting projects. Actionable customer segments are the engine that drive results. When you see representation of your customer segments as characters in a binge-worthy show, that’s when you should look into marketing opportunities.

The Wednesday series, for example, has a direct tie-in to crafting, with several episode-long jokes centering around the art of crocheting. For months, members of the WE LOVE CROCHET Facebook Group have been creating wearable looks and amigurumi dolls. They proudly show off their handiwork to the admiration of other members.

Brand Strategy Template for the New World of Binge Watching
Brand Strategy Template for the New World of Binge Watching

An Etsy search for “Wednesday Addams” shows 34,352 results, which include handmade goods and craft patterns. An entire craft niche has arisen around the series. It should be noted that these crafters have been quite busy. It takes incredible skill and an unbelievable number of hours to crochet wearables and dolls, along with developing patterns than can be used by others.

As a marketing expert, I’m very curious how this interest has impacted sales of black and white yarns, which typically aren’t the most desirable colors for crochet/knit creations. Also, while I can’t find any data on the trend, I suspect a fair number of fans have taken up new craft interests.

Brand Strategy Template for the New World of Binge Watching

Brand Strategy Template Example:
Netflix’s Stranger Things

Another popular sci-fi series is Netflix’s Stranger Things, released in 2016. This four-season series has inspired a resurgence in popularity for all things 1980’s, from fashion to hairstyles to music. Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill” reached the top of the charts again in 2022 after being featured in season four.

Merchandising for the series includes such items as a collectible Stranger Things My Little Pony, The Upside Down LEGO set and a Demogorgon Hunting Flashlight by Energizer.

Brand Strategy Template for the New World of Binge Watching

Authenticity is the key to including binge-watching-worthy properties in your brand strategy template. For fans, each of these products represent a touchstone from the series:

  • Dustin and Erica have a memorable conversation about My Little Pony being a show for nerds
  • The LEGO set faithfully reproduces important details from Will’s home
  • The flashlight has classic 80’s styling and looks similar to props used in the series

Brand Strategy Template:
The Not-Like-Spaceballs Principle

Merchandising is an age-old tool in any popular film or series’ brand strategy template. However, with today’s binge-watching fans, brands need to follow the Not-Like-Spaceballs Principle.

Spaceballs, the 1987 Star Wars parody movie, includes a great riff on the proliferation of licensing:

“We put the picture’s name on everything! Merchandising! Merchandising! Where the real money from the movie is made. Spaceballs the T-shirt! Spaceballs the coloring book! Spaceballs the lunchbox! Spaceballs the breakfast cereal! Spaceballs the flamethrower!”

While a Stranger Things lunchbox might be on-brand (and, come to think of it, a Wednesday-themed flamethrower), a breakfast cereal would fall flat. Merchandising needs to carefully consider authenticity to the series.

Brand Strategy Template:
Binge Watching Fast Facts

Your brand strategy template needs to contain an understanding of the facts surrounding binge watching. Here are some stats on just how popular the practice has become:

73% of Americans admit to binge-watching, with the average binge lasting three hours and eight minutes. 90% of millennials and 87% of Gen Z stated they binge-watch, and 40% of those age groups binge-watch an average of six episodes of television in one sitting.”

If you’re wondering if it’s healthy to watch so much TV, it isn’t. Northwestern Medicine published three main ways binge-watching impacts health:

  1. It’s addictive, and the activity releases dopamine, similar to a drug
  2. It’s isolating and often disconnects the viewer from reality and other people
  3. It negatively affects sleep. Obviously, because the viewer is watching a lot of TV instead of going to bed, but also because the brain stays active later into the night.

To help avoid these negative health effects, NM recommends limiting binges to three episodes, making the viewing social by watching with others and to not neglect the rest of one’s life for the sake of a series. Brands should consider what role they can or should play in promoting healthy viewing habits.

Brand Strategy Template:
Some Platforms Try to Reduce the Binge

When it comes to promoting binge-watching of new series, not all platforms take the same approach. Netflix leads the pack, reliably releasing an entire season all at once. Hulu often does the same. Apple and Amazon tend to release the first few episodes, then space out the remainder. Disney+, HBO Max and others have largely abandoned the full-release schedule, opting to offer one episode per week.

That doesn’t mean binge-watching is going away. Existing series and seasons are available to binge, and there’s a contingent of viewers who prefer to wait until a series is complete to watch it all at once. This presents opportunities to add long-tail marketing efforts to your brand strategy template.

Our Brand Strategy Resources page offers more insights into current trends. And if you have questions about how binge-watching might offer opportunities for your brand, bring them to one of our live office hours events.