The phrase “Happiest place on earth” is synonymous with the Walt Disney brand whether your six or sixty. Disney World’s multigenerational appeal is remarkable. There are few places in where children, young adults, parents, and grandparents can together enjoy themselves so thoroughly. Children are introduced to classic fairytales with their timeless heroes, and adults experience them afresh as if they were children.
Disney offers something for all ages in every park that is offered, starting with the grand aerial adventure of Soarin’ to the adorable comedy of Finding Nemo, The Musical, to the thrilling twists and turns and drops of Expedition Everest, to the spine-chilling creepiness of the Haunted Mansion, to the vibrant costumes and music of the Festival of Fantasy Parade. Beyond its celebration of family and fun, Disney World accomplishes the true magic of bringing together people from diverse cultures, generations, and backgrounds and reminding us all of the timeless bonds holding us together. With so many active global Disney fans and a company that just keeps growing, it’s clear that the company’s marketing team is doing something right.
Looking more closely at Disney’s success, there are four of its most powerful marketing strategies (Polizzi, M. 2018, January 26).
- Using Nostalgia to Establish and Maintain Customer Loyalty, Disney has been making an emotional imprint on people’s lives since it was first founded in 1923.
- Targeting Audience Segments with a Multi-Channel Strategy, one-way Disney keeps its fans engaged is by strategically creating content for different audience segments. A good example is Disney’s Star Wars revival which effectively targeted both millennials and older generations who enjoyed the original Star Wars.
- Establishing Disney World and Disneyland as Destination Brands. Disneyland and Walt Disney World are constantly changing according to themes, events, and other popular trends of the moment. This creates a unique experience for returning visitors, and it ensures that Disney always has new content to promote.
- Masterful Brand Storytelling that Resonates and Inspires. To market the movie, Disney created a series of memes pertaining to current events and seasons. Even though these playful memes seem like all fun at first glance, they are quite strategic: they establish a distinct and brand touchpoint that isn’t overly promotional or advertorial in nature.
To maintain and grow market share in an increasingly competitive theme park market, the company is challenged with making a week-long vacation at Walt Disney World more affordable. In response to the challenge, the principals of Integrated Insight designed, developed, and implemented a pricing strategy. The holistic strategy pulled guests into optimal behavior with the ability to customize their vacation, enabled by unbundling water parks and park hopping from theme park tickets; pricing to achieve significant, diminishing marginal day ticket prices to encourage longer length of stay; introduction of low cost meal plans for resort guests to overcome barriers to staying onsite; implementation of Extra Magic Hours (evening and morning) for resort guests only; and development and implementation of Disney’s Magical Express (free round trip transportation from the airport and to the room luggage delivery for resort guests).
With the launch of the new strategy, the cost of an all-inclusive seven-night, eight-day vacation with meals and transportation was reduced by over 35%, enabling many young families to take the vacation they had only dreamed of previously. Dubbed “Disney’s Brilliant Price Hike” by analysts, overwhelming consumer response drove a 20% increase in annual operating income in year one with year after year revenue gains in high single digits (Disney’s Magic Your Way Pricing Strategy 2018, January 03).
Global Operations and Supply Chain
Disney is a family vacation business with over $11 billion in sales, Disney’s Parks and Resorts span three continents and include five world-class vacation destinations, a top-rated cruise line and the most popular resort locations in North America, Europe and Asia. John Lund is Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Management, responsible for optimizing the performance of supply chains across Disney’s Parks and Resorts and oversees the supply chain functions for these operations, with particular focus on merchandise, food & beverage, and costuming (A. K. 2017, February).
During an interview with Senior VP of Supply Chain Management for Disney, John Lund defines Di8sneys supply chain as “The flow of material information and currency between our suppliers and our guests.” (A. K. 2017, February). He further describes the supply chain as for the guests, the supply chain should be invisible, almost magical. When our parks open each morning, everything that you would need or want will already be there. The attractions are ready to welcome the guests, the shelves in the shops are full of attractive products, and the restaurants are ready to serve great meals. Therefore, our primary focus is to balance the need for a rich diversity of offering, so critical to that uniquely Disney experience, with the need to operate as efficiently as possible. Specific initiatives include: (Supply Chain Quarterly Staff n.d.).
- Optimal item assortments
- Optimal sourcing
- Optimal product flow
- Optimal packaging
- Improved risk assessment tools
The key areas of focus are:
- Implementing process and tools to achieve optimal total delivered costs
- Attracting and retaining top talent throughout the supply chain organization
- Ensuring that we operate compliant, socially responsible supply chains
Compensation and Appraisal System
Disney’s two-word employee mission is to “create happiness” (Wilkie, D. 2018, April 11). Creating an environment where more than 60,000 employees strive to create happiness each and every day is a huge task for Walt Disney World’s HR department. It requires teaching employees to go above and beyond, to prepare for the unexpected, to lead by example, and to always make it look fun.
To achieve the high engagement of employees one sees at a Disney park, requires adhering to old-fashioned fundamentals, such as recruiting and training the best employees, building commitment and enthusiasm through communication and recognition, and designing a culture of excellence that puts people first. The founder, Walt Disney believed that the only way to become successful was to have a great team on your side, and once said: “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world but it requires people to make the dream a reality” (Wilkie, D. 2018, April 11).
Reasons for the company’s success include emphasis on customer service, and a focus on the elements of efficiency, courtesy, show, and safety. It has shown how employee strategies at Disney lead to the attainment of exceptional service quality, and large volumes of guests repeatedly coming back, year after year.
Disney takes a lot of care with its casting department and regularly assess its pay packages and new ways of recruiting. It offers a competitive package of wages and incentives to its staff, such as free park admission and discounts on park merchandise. Disney believes in investing in its staff also provides training programs and learning opportunities for employees to work their way into higher positions. Disney nearly always promotes from within.
All employees, even managers, begin in an ordinary entry-level hourly job. There is a program to help hourly workers who want to become part of management, there is another that allows them to transfer, as apprentices, to the technical unions like plumbers or electricians. Disney also grant educational reimbursement to employees still at college (Essays, UK. November 2013).
The human resource department must continually develop successful empowerment strategies and effective reward and recognition programs to maintain high morale and promote teamwork, and to keep the company soaring, especially through these troubled times (Essays, UK. November 2013).
Employee Culture, Employer Relations, and Practices
The Walt Disney Company’s organizational culture is associated with American culture, it is frequently considered one of the many cultural representations of the United States. The corporate culture ensures that employees reflect ideals that align with target customers’ preferences and expectations in the mass media, parks and resorts, and entertainment industries. The Walt Disney Company’s success is an indicator of strategic alignment between the corporate culture and the cultural traits of the target market (Williams, A. 2017, December 19). Disney’s corporate culture is linked to American culture. However, the business succeeds internationally because it also has organizational cultural attributes that empower employees to maximize their performance and the company’s profitability.
Walt Disney’s employee relations are responsible to support company-wide strategies to enable decisions that are consistent with Company policies, practices, values & culture while enhancing the Employee Experience during critical moments in the life cycle of the employment relationship as well as to be in charge of integrating key partners across the Walt Disney Company to discuss continuous improvement opportunities, drive solutions that promote employee engagement, ER initiatives and business results. This includes core services such as Onboarding, Development, Direct Relationships (positive employee engagement), Performance Management, and Departures/Transitions (Employment Practices at Walt Disney Company. n.d.).