The impact of Netflix on e-commerce sales, particularly on marketplaces

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Year after year, the streaming platform continually breaks audience records, with globally successful series that remain memorable, such as The Queen’s Gambit, Bridgerton, Lupin, or Squid Game. But the viewing figures are not the only thing that is increasing with these Netflix series, so are sales of the products based on them! The most popular ones have caused a real commercial tsunami on marketplaces, and are a source of interesting opportunities for brands.

How Netflix’s hit series are boosting sales

Netflix’s effect on sales was made clear a year ago, after The Queen’s Gambit was released in October 2020, a series that became a phenomenon immersing viewers in the world of chess. A critical and popular success that caused a massive tidal wave in the area of chess sets, where sales surged by more than 125%! This made the game an unexpected Christmas gift a few weeks later, and even led the last artisan manufacturer of chess games in France to resume operations.

At the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, the same phenomenon occurred once again with the releases of Bridgerton and Lupin, two successful series that, respectively, blew up sales of corsets and books by Maurice Leblanc! This is very revealing of the cultural echoes that TV series can have in our societies.

Despite being more than a century old, the novels, which tell the thrilling adventures of Arsène Lupin, have suddenly begun selling tens of thousands of copies on marketplaces like Amazon and so on. This led it to establish itself for a time as the no. 1 book in sales on e-commerce sites in Europe. In response to this craze, Hachette editions finally decided to reissue the covers of Arsène Lupin’s books, with a design matching the series.

How can we explain this growing impact on purchases?

With nearly 15 million subscribers in the UK, and more than 210 million worldwide, Netflix users spend several hours a day on average watching content on the platform. Netflix continues to gain in the share of the time spent by households on their entertainment activities. This trend has reached the point of now establishing new consumption habits among consumers around the world, and of course in the UK.

Nor should we overlook the impact of the series format, which captures viewers’ attention much longer than movies, resulting in an almost addictive immersion in a narrative universe for several evenings in a row, thus generating greater likelihood of impulse buys and occasional purchases. This is especially the case since each new series universe can now be seen on a multitude of physical media, because the characters who we get hooked on can be brought to life through various products: clothes, books, virtual games, and so on.

For the most motivated fans, making purchases on marketplaces is also a way to bring the fictional world they love to life by buying related content, as well as to promote it around them by wearing or using products from the series.

Squid Game has affirmed the impact of this streaming platform

Another example of this direct connection between the series watched on Netflix and online or in-store sales can be found in Squid Game, the first Korean series to break into the top 10 list of the platform’s series. This show generated a particularly powerful and unexpected enthusiasm for related products, especially costumes.

A few days after its release in September 2021, the costumes from Squid Game became the most searched-for product on Amazon in the United States. The appeal of the series gave rise to many wishing to dress up in unison for Halloween, which took place at the end of October.

As the world’s largest e-commerce site, Amazon can put new items on the market quickly thanks to its extensive network of partners (manufacturers and distributors). In this way, the site took advantage of the absence of these derivative products on the Netflix site and in physical stores to outflank competitors. Other merchants on marketplaces like eBay and Etsy followed suit and also began to offer items related to the series shortly thereafter, in order to allow fans to buy a costume on time!

Similarly, sales of the Vans Slip-On shoes appearing in Squid Game suddenly skyrocketed by 7,800%. The sneakers from this brand are in fact the ones worn by the actors from Netflix’s horror game series, and have been experiencing a clear revival of interest since then, as these models had been forgotten since the mid-2010s.

This new episode of the phenomenon also shows how Amazon tends to become the default search engine for visual searches for products. When viewers see something that catches their interest in a program on Netflix or elsewhere, their first reflex is to go and find it on this site. This emphasizes how important it becomes to gain visibility on the search results pages through the “Amazon Product Ads” system, to sponsor products.

Netflix is trying (and struggling) to capitalize on this craze

The other conclusion that stands out is that the Netflix platform is struggling to take advantage of the sales generated by its own series. It’s true that the streaming giant currently influences purchasing decisions, establishing itself as a trend setter. But the ones to take advantage of the social shopping it generates are the most popular and responsive marketplaces!

However, in June 2021, Netflix announced the launch of its new website Netflix.shop, focused on the sales of merchandise from its films and series, with the goal of capturing some of the orders from its original productions. However, this site has still not been integrated directly into the streaming application, and still receives few visits at this point. It’s very difficult to get around the habit of searching for products on large marketplaces. That might be the reason…

Even so, Netflix still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Its site for offshoot products is not even 6 months old, and is only active in a few countries. There’s still time for it to turn the tables.

Contact

Naomi Botting

Senior Communications Manager - UK, Northern Europe, China

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