Netflix is doubling down on its merchandising efforts with its hiring of former Disney exec Christie Fleischer to head its global Consumer Products team. Previously the head of merchandise for parks, experiences and consumer products at Disney, Fleischer will now lead a team at Netflix focused on overseeing retail and licensee partnerships, publishing, interactive games, merchandising and experiential events, the company says.
This role will include developing consumer products across all categories for Netflix original series and films.
Merchandise is an area Netflix has dabbled in before – like those “Stranger Things” tees at Target and other items at Hot Topic, for example – but not at scale. However, the company today has a number of original series and films where merchandising and other products make sense. This includes not only more mainstream fare like “Stranger Things,” but also originals aimed at kids where toys and games could be the next step in connecting with fans.
Netflix’s plan to push into merchandise has been known for some time.
Bloomberg reported last year that the company had posted a job opening for a “licensing, merchandising and promotion” senior manager who would pursue consumer products in order to “drive meaningful show awareness.”
The job description referenced merchandise like books, comics, gaming, toys, collectibles, soundtracks and apparel.
Fleischer’s background at Disney makes her a good fit for the role. Before working as head of merchandise, she was the Senior Vice President of retail & merchandise for Parks & Resorts, where she oversaw merchandise product strategy, product development, planning, visual merchandising, store design, supply chain and logistics.
She also worked in merchandise management for Warnaco Inc, American Pacific Enterprises and The Disney Store.
The hire is also notable as Disney is planning its own Netflix-like service, launching in 2019 – making the two companies even more of direct competitors than they were before. And this isn’t the first time Netflix has siphoned off Disney talent for itself – it also just landed top Disney production exec Tendo Nagenda last month.
Licensed merchandise could be a multi-million dollar – or even billion dollar – business for Netflix, if all goes well. As Statista noted last fall, the top 10 merchandise licensors are each pulling in billions in this market, led by Disney – which makes around $57 billion thanks to big-name franchises like “Star Wars,” “Frozen,” and others.
Netflix doesn’t have its own “Star Wars,” but it does have 130 million paying customers worldwide, most of whom watch several of its original series and movies. That’s a good start.
“Christie brings a wealth of experience and creativity from the consumer products world. She has helped to build some of the world’s most beloved brands and we’re thrilled that she will join us to give our fans more opportunities to interact with Netflix in new and exciting ways,” said Kelly Bennett, Chief Marketing Officer, in a statement about the new hire. “We want to create the highest quality experience for our fans in everything we do.”
Fleischer begins work in L.A., starting today.