Monday, September 13, 2004

Excess is not always good

Over the years, I have noticed that Disney can be slow to respond to popular items, then quickly crush them by over-responding. This was very evident with the whole "bean" craze in the late 1990's. They were popular and collectible because there weren't many of them. Disney, once they realized the popularity, started inundating the marketplace with new releases so numerous that oversupply killed the desire to have them. Eventually, you could find these in the stores for 50% off, on eBay for a huge discount IF they even sold at all, and even the secondary discount stores like Value City for a mere fraction of the original selling price. Collectors quickly sold off their holdings at losses and the craze evaporated.

Disney has done the same with other similar things over the years. The WDCC pieces went through a period where supply and variety quickly outstripped demand, frustrating many long-time collectors. Fortunately, a completely revamped program with fewer releases was instituted that may have saved the program. On the down side, Disney has been quietly moving more and more of the program to Enesco -- whom I believe is the actual manufacturer of the pieces.

The market for animation cels also went through a period like this. Disney flooded the market with options. I wonder if they truly understand that collectors collect things because they are limited, unique, or special. Sure, there are those that do so for sentimental reasons, but if you can see one almost anywhere you go, why buy one?

Another area where Disney almost killed a whole market is the Pin Collecting hobby. These are great ways to collect a bit of Disney at relatively low cost. The whole trading thing has encouraged people top talk to castmembers, meet each other at events, and created a whole social caste of collectors. However, when Disney realized the popularity, the flooded the market with new releases, limited editions, and so forth; almost killing the entire segment. Somewhere along the line, some smart executive must have said "wait". Then the releases slowed to a more manageable number and they pulled back from the brink of an implosion.

The latest interest to get this kind of over-attention from Disney is Scrapbooking. It used to be pretty cool to have a small selection of items, usually stickers, that allowed you to put together a neat scrapbook or album of your trip. It made it creative, unique and personal. Now, there are thousands of commercial items available -- too much if you ask me. It is not necessarily as creative as it once was and, interestingly enough, I see little interest from patrons while I am in the stores that carry such merchandise.