Disney is broadening its Princess portfolio with the introduction of digital content and a corresponding merchandise program for Disney Princess Palace Pets.
"Disney Princess Palace Pets are a new Disney Princess franchise extension that was inspired and developed through synergy across Disney Consumer Product's lines of business, from licensing and publishing to creative and product development," says Josh Silverman, executive vice president, global licensing, Disney Consumer Products. "The Disney Princess characters have always had an affinity for animals, and Disney Princess Palace Pets aligns well with the girls' play pattern of nurturing."
Palace Pets has a multi-platform program supported through digital content that provides a rich, interactive backstory for each pet, which are tied to well known Disney Princesses. Targeted to girls ages 3 to 7, an app allows children to nurture, pamper and love their virtual pets. The app launched this summer and already has garnered nearly 2 million downloads.
"We've had an unprecedented number of downloads in launching 'Palace Pets' digitally, and look forward to updating the app with activities and new interactive stories as the brand extension continues to develop," says Lyle Underkoffler, vice president, digital media, Disney Publishing Worldwide.
DCP also has rolled out an initial product line from licensee Blip Toys. The robust debut range features interactive figures, play sets and plush that are already on shelf at retailers–and selling through, according to DCP.
"We're seeing great collectability with Disney Princess Palace Pets Furry Tail Friends," says Chris Connolly, senior vice president, licensing, Disney Princess, DCP. "We're really pleased with the reception of the line, and we're seeing empty shelves across the nation. We feel as though we've struck upon something magical, given how girls are engaging with this new property. Plush and play sets have been standouts at retail."
DCP is careful to nurture the new property as it continues to grow and reach new audience share.
"One of our key strategic priorities at DCP is embracing technology and digital, which yields a multi-platform approach. It's about creating stories, not just having product sit on shelf," says Silverman. "Disney Princess Palace Pets will extend beyond the app and product collection with e-books, which are slated to launch this month, and print books in summer 2014 that carry forward the story."
According to DCP, softlines are also planned to roll out for the property in 2014.
The program will also launch in EMEA, as the app is scheduled for European availability in 10 different languages. DCP has a comprehensive distribution plan in place, with product available in the U.K. beginning in January 2014. Product will roll out to the rest of the EMEA markets in February and March 2014. Disney Junior will also provide on-air and online support to the brand.