Netflix Moves Into Commerce to Monetize Consumer Eyeballs

Netflix Moves Into Commerce to Monetize Consumers

The ability to bring movie magic to life from theme parks to retail stores worked wonders for The Walt Disney Company, and now Netflix is waving its own wand over its content in a bid to boost the streaming service’s profile, monetize its subscriber base and reenergize the brand at a time when it’s facing its toughest-ever business environment.

This, as streaming media giant announced Tuesday (Oct. 11) the opening of an immersive multimedia experience called Netflix at The Grove, which will open to the public in LA’s eponymous retail and entertainment district Thursday (Oct. 13). Inside, users/shoppers/curious customers will be presented with show-related merchandise and experiential “photo-ready vignettes featuring life-size versions of notable Netflix characters, including Vecna from ‘Stranger Things,’ the iconic Young-Hee doll from ‘Squid Game,’ Queen Charlotte’s throne and more,” the company said.

Whether Netflix’s push into physical retail is more publicity campaign than strategic expansion is open to question. What’s not in doubt is that the streaming giant lost ground in 2022 and is seeking ways to inspire its roughly 220 million subscribers to stay engaged — and subscribed.

See also: Netflix Adding Theaters Suggests Content More Important Than Venue

Described as a pop-up, it’s a big one at 10,000 square feet. Netflix said it will offer “a broad range of limited-edition items from some of Netflix’s most popular titles,” including the “Hellfire Club” raglan shirt and “Palace Arcade” hoodie, the “Inside Bridgerton” book, “an assortment of Funko collectible figures from ‘Squid Game’ and ‘Stranger Things’” and select products from popular titles like “Gabby’s Dollhouse.”

Netflix Head of Live Experiences Greg Lombardo said in a statement that “this felt like the most organic next step to continue our growth and bring Netflix’s most beloved shows together in a completely new way,” building on prior pop-ups like those in Japan and smaller installations popping up coast-to-coast.

It’s the latest in a series of off-screen moves Netflix has made to cement its place in the hearts and wallets of viewers during the inflation-induced “great unsubscribe” by taking a page from the Disney playbook that places the brand in the rarified ranks of Hollywood’s major studios.

The ‘Blockbuster Pivot’

The move was all but inevitable.

“It may be time for Netflix to stage its next Blockbuster pivot — but it must do more than just follow the pack and bring ads into the mix,” PYMNTS’ Karen Webster wrote earlier this year. “Or simply add content about the content it already has on the platform as some suggest, to build upon and expand its core. Both strategies take the view that Netflix’s content is its primary asset.”

She added, however, that Netflix’s primary asset is not subscribers or content: “it’s the attention of its users. Naturally, that’s all inextricably linked to the content it has on the platform. But to move the needle, Netflix has to monetize the attention of its users in creative and impactful ways.”

The big move awaited by market watchers is a shoppable Netflix with embedded commerce functionality enabling viewers to buy that pair of shoes from “Bridgerton” or that car from “The Lincoln Lawyer.” Considering that Amazon Prime Video hasn’t completely figured this out yet, a connected and shoppable Netflix could be that “next Blockbuster pivot” if and when it comes to pass.

See also: How Brands Can Survive the Great Unsubscribe

Along those lines, the streamer just cut a deal with AMC, Regal and Cinemark theaters in the United States, announcing on Oct. 6 that its whodunit “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” will get a limited theatrical run across all three chains for the first time, ahead of the film’s Netflix premier in December.

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