The littlest of people could mean big business for Disney Consumer Products.
The Walt Disney Co.’s licensing, publishing, manufacturing and retail division will open its first Disney Baby store Saturday at the Southern California shopping center The Americana at Brand across the street from the Glendale Galleria, where the Disney Store chain started in 1987. Later this month, Disney Consumer Products will follow the opening of the 2,400-square-foot store with the unveiling of an 800-square-foot in-store shop dedicated to Disney Baby at the Disney Store in Times Square.
“We know that Disney is a brand that moms trust, and we see an opportunity in the market for high-quality innovative baby products,” said Paul Gainer, executive vice president, Global Disney Store and former vice president, general merchandise manager and operations for Babystyle Inc. “We felt that, with the Disney brand and the need in the market, there would be a great match.”
A year ago, Disney Consumer Products placed Disney Baby merchandise in its Disney Store locations to test the waters. The size of the American market for baby goods — research firm IBISWorld Inc. predicts infant clothing will be a $3.5 billion business in the U.S. this year — as well as the constant influx of consumers into the market, with more than 1.6 million first-time moms, often fiercely loyal to and communicative about brands that work for their babies, in the U.S. annually; and the potential to engage consumers with the Disney brand at such an early age was intriguing.
“Two years ago, we had virtually nothing in the store under two years of age,” said Gainer. “We began creating a relatively small assortment and have seen great results from our consumer.”
In addition to opening the Disney Baby store at The Americana, Disney Consumer Products is enlarging the footprint of Disney Baby merchandise within its Disney Store locations, where it currently occupies two to four fixtures in each store, by roughly 25 percent. Disney Baby bestsellers in the stores have been Disney Cuddly Bodysuits, essentially onesies that Disney Baby launched with its initial Disney Baby collection last year. Before kicking off its baby merchandise with the bodysuits, Disney conducted research that showed an American mom on average purchases in excess of 35 bodysuits during her baby’s first year of life.
Disney Baby merchandise is priced from $9.50 to $200. Likely bestsellers at the Disney Baby flagship will be baby girl Minnie Mouse dresses and outerwear, and baby boy coveralls and outerwear, as well baby costumes due to the timing of the store’s opening shortly before Halloween. “We are seeing if baby can be a year-round business,” said Gainer, although he acknowledged, “It may be bigger during gifting times.”
Disney Consumer Products designed the Disney Baby store internally. Unlike the Disney Store design concept, which encourages shopping by Disney’s various characters, the Disney Baby store is arranged in sections dedicated to what Disney Consumer Products calls “magical moments,” including playtime, bath time, on-the-go, getting ready, mealtime, dressing baby and in the nursery. The store also has wide aisles to make shopping easy for moms pushing strollers.
Disney Consumer Products has no plans at the moment to expand Disney Baby’s stand-alone retail beyond The Americana store, but it could further grow Disney Baby within Disney Store locations or with wholesale partners should performance warrant. Disney Baby merchandise is available on amazon.com and at Babies ‘R’ Us.
Disney Consumer Products didn’t project revenues for the Disney Baby flagship. However, based on an estimate from The Americana owner Caruso Affiliated of annual sales per square foot at the shopping center of almost $1,200, the store could generate nearly $2.9 million in first-year sales. Last fiscal year, Disney Consumer Products’ retail segment generated $1.116 billion in revenues, up 17 percent from $953 million the prior year. There are currently 215 Disney Store units in the U.S.