Harry Potter Itty Bittys

In today’s article we take a look at Pop Culture and how the mass media can influence the products our shops sell. PewDiePie, Baby Shark, Tide Pods, Fortnite, Chonk, Central Park Duck, Stranger Things, Kylo Ren Pants, Red Dead Redemption and Logan Paul. This may seem just a string of random words and names you’ve never heard of but these are some of the biggest memes, shows, games and YouTubers of 2018.From people eating laundry detergent pods (Tide Pods) to angry chubby cats (Chonk) and the shirtless Star Wars villain who needs better fitting trousers, these are the digital stars and viral media that defined 2018.

This article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of Greetings Today Magazine as part of Chris Fox’s “On the Line” column. Chris Fox is the marketing manager for Wishes of Cudworth an independent greeting card and gift shop owned by Julia Keeling.

It’s a phenomenon that many us will struggle to understand as we lose touch with pop culture and the younger generation. I’m old enough to remember watching films on VHS, listening to music on cassettes and buying the Turtle Power rap record on vinyl from Woolworths so I’m certainly not their target audience. However, it’s worth remembering that our kids, nephews and grandkids will be more interested in reality TV stars like Kylie Jenner than more mainstream media. If a terrestrial TV show gets 10 million plus viewers it’s big news but for some YouTube vloggers that audience size is taken for granted.

Take Logan Paul and PewDiePie the millionaire vloggers who are now Internet celebrities thanks to their incredible number of subscribers. The top-earning YouTube channel in 2018 was Ryan ToysReview who’s 7-year-old host made £17 million last year. Yes, I’ll say that again a 7-year-old kid made more money from YouTube than many of us can ever dream of earning. This is big business and only time will tell how this will influence the card industry and the products we sell in our small shops. In the here and now, these powerhouse vloggers are teaming up with large companies to target the Internet savvy teen audiences who consume the majority of their media online. You only have to look at Samsung teaming up with ‘Ozzy Man Reviews’ for a brand thinking out of the box when it’s comes to their choice of influencers. Such is the power and subsistent cost of hiring the vloggers, we’re now seeing the rise of micro-influencers with far less subscribers being used to promote online store and products. This online revolution is shaping the minds and consumer habits of our future customers.

Wishes of Cudworth Harry Potter

Now I’m not suggesting you should hire Logan Paul to do a video about your shop or that our card publishers should be bringing out Baby Shark cards (that said a plush toy was rushed out for Christmas) as memes are often have short lifespan. By the time the card was released the subject would yesterday’s news and deeply uncool. It’s the very nature of the Internet and maybe the entire 21st century, people now have 15 seconds rather than minutes of fame. Of course, some pop culture icons endure like good old Batman who’s gone from 60’s camp to 00’s heavy metal. The Dark Knight remains a popular gift and greeting card star even as he approaches his 80’s birthday.

The popularity of Harry Potter shows that our customers don’t have wizard fatigue with our recent HP Itty Bittys from Hallmark selling out within days of us putting them on our Facebook page. We always have great online engagement when we post about a trending topic. Harry Potter is still hot and our Game of Throne inspired Dragon Eggs brought in new customers who saw them on our social media platforms. It’s interesting to see entire shops based around Harry Potter giftware and with the Fantastic Beast’s franchise, the fan-base will only increase. Despite all this, it’s increasing difficult to predict what will be a hit and therefore what licenced products to sell. The Marvel movies continue to break box office records but not many people would have bet on The Greatest Showman being such a success or A Wrinkle in Time being such a flop. Julia, Wishes owner often returns home and remarks “What’s LOL?”, “Who’s Wreak it Ralph?” and “I’ve been asked for Minecraft cards again” (A brand no publisher seems to have the licence for, please give us a nudge if you know otherwise). How many times have we been late to the game and missed out on a potential best seller. It’s also worth bearing in mind that our customers are just as clueless as us and even a Gangsta Granny would be more likely to know Superman more than Black Panther. This would often influence their buying choice as our regulars are not necessary that geekly way inclined.

Streaming content is fast becoming the norm and people are just as likely to watch Netflix than the BBC. Our viewing habits have changed thanks to iPads, smart phones and subscription services. Professional video content with high production values can be found for free on YouTube and more of us are downloading podcast and digital apps to play later. The stars of tomorrows may end being the social media influencers with millions of followers and the vloggers with an audience bigger than every terrestrial channel combined. We may soon have YouTubers on our cards and memes on our wrapping paper. With social media credited for popularising the children’s song “Baby Shark” maybe the future our industry will be shaped more by memes and tweets. So, let’s all sing along together, “Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo, Baby shark!”.

The internet is a wonderful tool but can be scary if you don’t know how to make the best use of it. In this series of articles retailer Chris Fox, from Wishes Of Cudworth aim to pass on all the online tips he’s discovered so far to help independent retailers boost their bricks and mortar business in the digital age. This article was originally published in Greetings Today Magazine.