Disney’s Strategy is a Study in Pivots through Market Development

Paul O'BrienEducationLeave a Comment

In 2017, August, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that the company would be pulling shows from Netflix and similar streaming services; the news, highlighted by Thrillist, shed light on their plans to make their way into that already crowded streaming market with the launch of their own direct-to-consumer service for shows and movies.

We now know a lot about Disney+ and that it will offer original shows and classic movies, as well as providing a permanent home for Disney’s ever-expanding library – including as most know Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel, brands.

I was asked once if Disney+ would fail and I could only think to reply with a bit of snark because here I am, a parent and huge Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar fan, anxious to get my hands on the films at home, and I could only think, “Essentially, no chance in heck.”

And as I thought that, and explored Disney streaming just a bit, I was reminded of some provocative advice that I give startup founders, that startups really only fail when the founders quit. Ventures create markets; startups pivot and the world changes – success is a matter of a market driven strategy and with that in mind, there is much we might learn from Disney.

George G. Q. Quitoriano, student and teacher of entrepreneurship at Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Philippines, has become an invaluable voice in our MediaTech community on Quora. He took a moment to explore Disney’s incredible model for us…


What is Disney’s strategy?

The Walt Disney Company has employed a lot of different strategies from Walt Disney’s pioneering new product development strategy (i.e. Steamboat Willie, Silly Symphonies, Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs) to Bob Iger’s aggressive growth by acquisition strategy (e.g. Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox). To answer the question, I would like to highlight two key strategies that Disney has continuously used throughout its long history, focused differentiation and related diversification.

Since the beginning, Disney has been focused on family-oriented entertainment. They targeted both kids and parents at the same time, leading to the four-quadrant (i.e. male, female, adults, kids) content they make today. This gives them an evergreen appeal that stretches across generations.

Their main differentiation has been their brands. Not only did they develop the Disney brand, but they also built many of the iconic billion-dollar brands we have today (e.g. Mickey Mouse & Friends, Winnie the Pooh & Friends, Disney Princess).

Anchored on the brand’s built by their movies, Disney then monetizes these properties through a diversified array of related business. Walt Disney himself, drew up a strategic map in 1957 that includes Disneyland, Merchandise Licensing, Television, Music, Publications and Comic Strips.

Nowadays, Disney synergizes their brands through even more channels that include Theatre, Cruise Ships, Vacation Packages, Retail Shops, Cable Channels, Video Games and recently Streaming.


Looking for more discussion or Q&A about innovation in media? Join us in Quora’s MediaTech Space and get to know the tremendous thought leaders, such as George G. Q. Quitoriano, exploring Disney and more.

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