Home Blog 2020 Pokemon: Driving New Growth in a Mature IP
Jan 23, 2020

Pokémon: Driving New Growth in a Mature IP

Subscribe to our blog

The Pokémon IP follows a pattern of releasing new products consistently every year and maintains strong sales across industries. Every November, video game releases on Nintendo gaming hardware are used to introduce and popularize new Pokémon creatures. Coinciding with this, the manga comic books and anime television show begin new story arcs to follow these new characters. New plush toys, action figures, and other toys also become available. A few months later, the trading card game is updated with new sets for the new characters, and these continue to be iterated on a few times per year.

Pokémon generally has at least one animated film release each year. Most of these films do not get theatrical releases, but some do in a very limited fashion. There are minimal impacts on the sales of other Pokémon products when these films are released. The films’ primary purpose is to help maintain Pokémon’s significant market visibility and strong baseline sales throughout the year across its multiple product forms.

Pokémon’s traditional product release strategy has worked well to build a cross-entertainment juggernaut. However, there was a significant change in strategy in 2019: film was finally utilized as a driving force for the IP thanks to Detective Pikachu. The movie was given a full theatrical release in May 2019, and it grossed $144 million domestically at the box office, significantly higher than the $789K box office sales and $311K physical DVD sales for Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You, which then was the most recent animated release.

The film was notable for a number of reasons. It was the first Pokémon film to be produced by Legendary Pictures. Warner Bros. distributed it despite not distributing a Pokémon film since 2000. It was also the first live-action film for the IP, and the film’s main character Pikachu was voiced by Ryan Reynolds.

Prior to 2019, May had generally been a slower month for Pokémon in the Toy market, and revenue is usually down by 8% from April. Thanks to Detective Pikachu, May 2019 toy sales were instead up 15% over April 2019. Toy sales in May 2019 were 70% higher than May 2018. This growth was driven by 3 toy categories: Strategic Trading Card Games, Traditional Plush, and Action Figure Collectibles (this reinvigorated interest in the IP was not just for a single month). Regardless of whether there may be a sequel movie down the line, Detective Pikachu is a great example of future testing the IP with new forms of content to reach newer and broader audiences, and never resting on the brand’s past performance.

Likewise, the IP’s newest video games Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, the first new generation of Pokémon on Nintendo Switch, are driving another significant increase in revenue for the IP.

The lesson here for any company looking to expand the reach of their IP is to make adventurous exploration of new entertainment products, emerging opportunities, and appropriate partnerships a core business activity, especially as whitespace opens up with gaming platforms like Switch.



Stay current in your industry
SUBSCRIBE

Related Content

Tagged: Entertainment


TV Viewers’ Changing Behavior
TV Viewers’ Changing Behavior

As consumers continue to cut the cord, and as streaming video proliferates through new subscription and ad-based services, it’s critical to stay on top of rapidly changing consumer behavior.

The Co-Existence Conundrum
The Co-Existence Conundrum

NPD’s John Buffone looks at the importance of the subscription and transactional digital video overlap.

Retaining Attention in the Rip-Roaring Decade of Streaming Video
Retaining Attention in the Rip-Roaring Decade of Streaming Video

What is driving increased viewer engagement in streaming TV and what’s contributing most to subscriber churn? Find out in this piece by NPD’s John Buffone.

Average Weekly Netflix Usage Rose 72% in the U.S. Since COVID-19 Pandemic Began, The NPD Group Says
Average Weekly Netflix Usage Rose 72% in the U.S. Since COVID-19 Pandemic Began, The NPD Group Says

Since shelter at home orders were first announced in the United States, there has been a 72 percent increase in the number of Netflix subscriber profiles that were used to stream video each week. DVD, Blu-Ray, and 4K disc sales in the populous, and hardest hit, areas of New England and the Mid-Atlantic Census Divisions were down 2 percent and 3 percent, respectively, compared to the average weekly sales in January and February.

Newsletter

Subscribe and get key market trends and insights relevant to your industry each month.

We will not sell your information. View privacy notice. | Cookie Settings

Follow Us

© 2020 The NPD Group, Inc.