San Diego, California (July 24th, 2017) I’ve now been to several Comicons, yet this year was different. The show floor felt familiar. It felt as if my friends and family were there with me. I don’t mean that literally, I mean that the audience couldn’t be labeled as “geek” or “fangirl” or whatever other social term we use for people that are focused on a sub-sector of popular culture. Instead, this was the most inclusive, a truly mass market crowd of people representing every age, sex, religion, creed, ability, and so on. The crowd was individual in the sense that they loved different characters and properties – but they were all connected in a way that says it’s OK to love comics, anime, video games, and other expressive art forms that were historically deemed as childish. There is a pop cultural revolution happening, and it’s moving faster than ever at retail. Here are the trends that I believe will allow you to connect with this all-inclusive consumer opportunity.
1. OVERWATCH – The game that is exceeding every expectation. In the world of Overwatch, a first person point of view shooter game, fans of all ages bond with their favorite characters. Unlike any other property in recent time, the Overwatch character universe gives fans of all interest an opportunity to prove why their character is king of the hill. The brand’s meteoric rise to over 25 million active players YTD, which is accredited to their diversity in character looks, genders, powers, and weapons. The modern consumer loves options and they have figured out the formula. This was the biggest brand at Comicon and the product partnerships already include Toys, Stationary, Apparel, and Collectibles.
2. RICK & MORTY – Every year I look for the most cosplayed new property as often it gives insight into what license will be trending in the next 12 months. This year it was Cartoon Network’s Rick & Morty – a multi dimension travelling story about an alcoholic pseudo Doc Brown (Back To The Future) and his little nephew Morty. It is wild, unexpected, hilarious, and borderline genious. The brand’s dispruptive approach to animation continues to push the envelope of who a cartoon is really for? My favorite new product range happens to be the construction sets from McFarlane Toys.
3. THE RISE OF THE ENAMEL LAPEL PINS – The most noticeable product trend was the return of enamel pin. Individual artists to big brands, had incredible offerings of unique and often Con exclusive pins. Averaging around $10 a pop, this trend lends itself perfectly to retail as most buyers often think about dollars per square foot – and this program undoubtly would yield one of the highest. Although most were lapel pin sized, one of my favorites were the giant buttons that really made a splash.
4. AGGRETSUKO – Often a much more quiet and introverted character comes out of Sanrio – however Aggretsuko, is well.. aggressive! This character works in a standard office with standard cubicles and standard corporate mundane tasks – relatable right? Aggretsuko, a sweet red panda office associate who hits RAGE mode when she gets pushed to her limit by her annoying coworkers! The booth was swarmed the entire show and like her much lazier Sanrio stable mate – Gudetama, Aggretsuko is poised to be the next big Japanese import. They have a social media campaign with their own Snapchat filter and lots of content being published for Instagram: @Aggretsuko.
5. GONE TOO SOON, SHOWS THAT WERE CANCELLED WAY TOO EARLY – Disney’s Gravity Falls (IMBD rating 8.9) and Cartoon Networks’ Over the Garden Wall (IMBD rating 9.0) are two shows that you probably haven’t heard of, and rightfully so, as they’ve both been cancelled for years. However thanks to streaming services like Hulu; great content has a platform for a resurrection. The consumer is in control and the demand for product on both properties was very noticeable. I would not be surprised if they are green lit for a comeback.
**BONUS** THROWBACK EDITION: CLASSIC X-MEN & STREET FIGHTER 30th Anniversary – More nostalgia was trending at this year’s con with 90s classic X-Men and Capcom promoting the 30th anniversary of Street Fighter. Two iconic properties that are teaming up with some cool brands to offer a more sophisticated rendition.
Thank you for taking the time and interest to check out my post, if you would like to discuss anything in this trend report in more detail please don’t hesitate to contact me SteveS@diversemail.com or follow my adventures visually on Instagram at @RedStarArmy1.
Chief Discovery Officer, Diverse Insights