The Netflix Effect & How Pop Culture Impacts Ecommerce
August 16, 2023
Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the past few years, the word Netflix will be very familiar to you.
The streaming giant’s subscribers increase by around 10% each year, with approximately 238 million paid subscribers worldwide. The online format, lack of ads and reasonable prices have seen DVDs fall into oblivion, revolutionising the way we consume TV and film.
But what does this have to do with ecommerce, you ask? Well, it turns out that your favourite Netflix Original series may help with more than boredom busting – it may lead to a huge surge in online sales for your business.
What is the Netflix Effect?
The term is used to refer to a number of different things, from catapulting actors to fame overnight to the way it’s changed how we view the TV and film industry. In the context of retail, the Netflix Effect refers to certain products surging in sales as a direct result of being featured in a Netflix show or film, as well as the development of search trends whether this be via Google, eBay or Amazon.
The Netflix Effect in action
One of the more recent Netflix original series to cause a storm of ecommerce sales, Wednesday follows the deadpan Wednesday Addams on her quest to solve a series of supernatural murders after being sent to Nevermore Academy.
An Addams Family spin-off, the show was always going to garner a huge following. The show racked up 341 million hours of viewership, surpassing Stranger Things to become the most-watched English television series in its first week.
Searches for gothic fashion surged in the weeks after Wednesday’s November release. Fashion magazines predicted that the star’s black-on-black wardrobe would launch a trend, and they were right. Wednesday’s off-campus wardrobe of sleek leather jackets, oversized hoodies and monochromatic, hand-knitted jumpers has formed the basis of a Gen Z fashion trend, sparking a gothic fashion revival. Depop reported that searches for Wednesday-inspired outfits were up by 1000x in December 2022.
If any show has affirmed the power of Netflix, it’s Squid Game. The Korean survival thriller generated a particularly potent and perhaps unexpected enthusiasm for related products, especially costumes.
Just days after the series’ September 2021 release, Squid Game costumes became the most searched-for product on Amazon in the US. Thanks to an extensive network of manufacturers and distributors, Amazon was able to react quickly, adding new items to the market as soon as the trend began to emerge.
You may have noticed that many of the Squid Game cast donned slip-on Vans, and you wouldn’t be alone. Sales of these shoes suddenly skyrocketed by 7,800% – clearly Squid Game fueled a revival of interest in one of Vans’s signature styles.
The Queen’s Gambit
Released at the back end of 2020, The Queen’s Gambit tells the tale of an orphaned chess prodigy on her quest to become the greatest chess player in the world during the Cold War era. Based on the novel by the same name, Netflix have adapted the coming-of-age drama for the small screen and with great success.
As the show soared in popularity, so did sales of chess sets. Since the series was released on 23 October 2020, sales for the board game have risen by 125%.
Goliath Games reported that sales of its chess sets have increased by over 1000% compared to the same period in the previous year. Many retailers have noticed that wooden and vintage-style chess sets are the most popular choice – the type depicted in The Queen’s Gambit.
Interestingly, it’s not just physical products that Netflix viewers are flocking to buy – downloads for chess.com’s iPhone app entered the top of the charts shortly after the debut of The Queen’s Gambit.
Briddgerton was only released in December 2020, but in a short space of time has managed to garner huge attention on social media, further proving the power of Netflix. According to the streaming service, a staggering 63 million households had already streamed the series within two weeks of its Christmas Day debut.
Having been described as a cross between popular teen drama Gossip Girl and period drama Downton Abbey, it’s no surprise that the mini-series has gone down a treat with Netflix viewers.
In true Netflix style, Bridgerton is now influencing what we wear, how we pass the time and (perhaps most importantly) how we spend our money.
According to eBay, there has been a huge 65% increase in searches for embroidery hoops since the release of period drama Bridgerton – no doubt due to fans wanting to partake in their favourite character’s chosen pastime during lockdown. But it doesn’t just stop at embroidery hoops – the ecommerce giant has also reported a huge surge in interest in Bridgertion inspired fashion and homeware, from corsets to afternoon tea sets. It’ ‘s clear that viewers are keen to emulate the lifestyles of the characters they watch on screen, just as we may buy a guitar to act like our favourite musician.
While there is much speculation about the accuracy of The Crown’s plot lines, Netflix certainly got the costumes correct. But one item of clothing, in particular, exploded in popularity when the scandalous saga returned to screens in 2020 and introduced the much-anticipated Charles and Diana romance.
If the Royal Family had an official jacket, then Barbour’s iconic waxed jacket would be it. From hunting trips to royal outings, the Barbour jacket has become a staple of the royal wardrobe, and it’s been a hit through the generations as well.
In December 2020, the Guardian reported that searches for the garment soared by 196%.
Capitalising on the Netflix craze
Netflix accounts for 25% of daily digital video time in the US. And in 2020, 80% of the most watched original series in the US belonged to Netflix. The streaming platform has become synonymous with the growing, pervasive impact of technology, and it’s clear we’re spending a lot of our free time using it.
From chess sets to gothic fashion, booming sales prove that Netflix could be an advertising powerhouse. Ecommerce businesses should take note of the service’s ability to boost sales, but not necessarily via product placement or other forms of paid advertising – there are other opportunities to capitalise on the popularity of Netflix shows and films for brands both big and small.
Netflix has even attempted to capture merchandise sales by launching an official ecommerce store, after struggling to take advantage of the sales generated by its own series. Further proof that Netflix sets trends and influences our purchasing decisions.
Marketers should pay attention to what’s taking the streaming world by storm – it may help you to boost your sales when incorporated into your digital marketing strategy.