An influx of items featuring The Mandalorian’s iconic character, The Child, aka Baby Yoda, has evolved beyond a meme into a prime licensing opportunity across retail. Read on for quick wins on incorporating the viral sensation into your assortment.
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• Baby Yoda has become a viral and sartorial success with arrivals spiking in the US after the release of The Mandalorian.
• BoxLunch and Hot Topic were first to capitalize on Baby Yoda, dropping products featuring the character towards the end of November.
• Across menswear, womenswear and childrenswear, tops are the most invested category, leaving plenty of opportunity for licensing across other areas.
• Missguided and Primark are the only UK retailers to capitalize on the Baby Yoda hype so far, putting them ahead of the curve before the launch of Disney+ in the UK.
The power of memes
A flurry of Baby Yoda memes appeared across social media platforms shortly after the first episode of The Mandalorian aired on November 12th 2019. Even though Disney+ has only been released in the US, Baby Yoda became an instant hit across the globe.
Unlike many other memes that are short lived, Baby Yoda’s popularity has rolled into 2020 with retailers tapping the character for merchandise. Look to this format to generate buzz as well as promote new arrivals.
What’s already retailing?
• As Disney+ has only been launched in the US, products are limited to this region at the moment. UK retailers have a head start to ensure they are prepared for the launch on March 31st 2020 and have stock to promote on Star Wars Day (May 4th).
• There have been 100 arrivals described as ‘Baby Yoda’ in the last three months with over half of products categorized under girlswear.
• All US arrivals fall into the tops category, comprising of graphic T-shirts and hoodies. Prices for apparel start at $19.99 for a graphic T-shirt at Target and exit at $49.99 for a hoodie at Kohl’s.
• Kohl’s, Jet, Target and Walmart are the only retailers to stock Baby Yoda products to date. Kohl’s has already seen multiple sellouts of its boys’ Baby Yoda T-shirts.
• In the past three months, 257 menswear products described as ‘Baby Yoda’ have arrived online in the US. Kohl’s, BoxLunch, Walmart and Hot Topic have invested the most.
• Belk currently has the lowest price point for Baby Yoda apparel for an $18.00 T-shirt. The most expensive item is Kohl’s hoodies which retails at $59.99.
• BoxLunch was the only retailer to incorporate Baby Yoda in accessories, launching a selection of wallets appealing to all genders – an untapped opportunity to cash in on the hype at entry level price points.
• The character is mainly represented on graphic tees, as well as minor investments in sweatshirts and hoodies. Kohl’s was the only retailer to release Baby Yoda singlets – an ideal category to target the teen boys market and push an Instagrammable item in the lead up to the festival season.
• Sell-outs and replenishment of Baby Yoda sweaters and tees have already been recorded at Kohl’s and Target.
• Online in the UK, the only retailer currently tapping into the success of Baby Yoda was Missguided, dropping a graphic T-shirt on January 8th 2020. Just before Christmas, Primark promoted a range of graphic tees on its Instagram available in-store only.
• Despite having the largest selection of men’s and kids’ Baby Yoda items, Kohl’s currently doesn’t stock the character categorized under womenswear. Hot Topic, Target and Walmart corner this market instead.
• 103 Baby Yoda products arrived online over the past three months in the US. These items had a similar assortment split to menswear with T-shirts as a core focus followed by sweaters and hoodies.
• The lowest entry price point for apparel is from Walmart with a T-shirt retailing for $25.99. Hot Topic’s drawstring hoodie has the highest price point advertised at $46.90.
3 ways to invest in Baby Yoda
If you have a license for Baby Yoda then graphic T-shirts are the easiest and most popular way to capitalize on the character. Leverage the nostalgic element of the franchise with retro and vintage motifs. Classic graphic and slogan T-shirts have previously worked well for other characters, but also consider fresh approaches. Modern printing techniques and two way sequin embellishments add an extra level to the graphic T-shirt. For instance, Zara uses Lenticular printing to create a sense of movement in its Star Wars graphics.
A great way to include the Baby Yoda character in your range for all ages, particularly in the run-up to Halloween. If full body costumes are not an option then hoodies, hats and ears provide lower price point options.
Nightwear for the whole family provides another option for the franchise including onesies, graphic pajama sets, bath robes and slippers that can be used to create the Baby Yoda look. Onesies can also double up as costumes and make for a good investment. Ears can be added to hooded items, while Yoda feet can turn into slippers.
What can we learn from Baby Groot?
• Baby Groot made his debut in Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2 in April 2017. As with Baby Yoda, the young Groot was an instant success, featured in many memes and under #babygroot on social media.
• Retailers were quick off the mark as a spike in Baby Groot products was noted in May 2017 with a second increase in arrivals in December 2017 – placed in time for Christmas.
• The US was the main region to invest in Baby Groot products, where the majority of these were stocked by Walmart. Graphic T-shirts made up 73% of arrivals, while nightwear was the second most invested in category at 15%.
• Hardly any retailers capitalized on Baby Groot’s hype for communications. Hot Topic was the only retailer to feature the character in emails around the movie release.
If a licensed product is not an option for kids…
There is still an opportunity to harness the cuteness. Try creating baby versions of already popular motifs like aliens, dinosaurs, unicorns and llamas. Big ears are already a popular detail in childrenswear – incorporate these into hats and dressing gowns. Piggybacking off the UK success of John Lewis’ Excitable Edgar the dragon, a simple way to tap into Baby Yoda’s appeal is to go green on hooded tops and hats.
Childrenswear contributions by Sophie