*This is an excerpt from a paper I wrote for Media Planning. The assignment: to analyze the market position of a leading company. I choose VIZ Media LLC.*
Manga Market as a Whole:
In 2008, Manga sales were down by 17%, compared to the previous year. Overall sales dropped from $210 million in 2007 to $175 million (roughly 2005 numbers), with larger declines in the bookstores than in the comic shops. Despite the 17% sales drop, the number of Manga graphic novels released in the United States has only decreased by a small 9%, from 1,513 to 1,372 books. Overall, Manga still makes up the majority of the North American graphic novel releases, accounting for 55% of releases but only 44% of sales, versus 56% in 2007. ICv2, an online news source for pop culture, surveyed Manga publishers about their expectations for 2009, and estimates that approximately 1,224 graphic novels will be published.
There are two factors that attribute the decrease of Manga sales in 2008. The economic downturn had a great effect on bookstores, which impacted sales, however, the introduction of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, has had a great effect. The book series occupied the attention of the young tween and teen female markets that we’re responsible for the recent explosion in Manga’s growth in bookstores, ultimately decreasing sales.
How Viz measures up to the Manga category:
Since the category is slipping (a loss of 17% in a year) and the Viz brand is growing, you can say that the scenario is Low CDI/High BDI. The brand is doing better than the category is overall, making it the “Best in it’s Class”.
Viz uses a variety of media to convey their messages to consumers. For traditional media, Viz doesn’t use radio or newspapers: the company loosely uses television and DVD videos by providing its brand name alongside the title of the program, but instead focuses on marketing in bookstores and specialty comic-focused stores. Viz provides the stores with promotional stands for their books, often featuring popular characters and series that are now available. Viz also advertises their newest products within their own products. For example, on the inside cover of one of their graphic novels, is a listing of all the other books that came out that month. Through this method, Viz is directly reaching people who are already interested in Viz products and showing them more Viz products, avoiding any clutter from their competitors.
Viz also uses non-traditional media, specifically focusing on Internet advertising. Viz has a tremendous website that has a lot of features that keep in touch with consumers. The Website provides users with an up-to-date calendar of products, a news section where new titles and licenses are announced, a blog, where many of the staff members write about titles they like, a digital manga reader (letting consumers preview Manga titles before buying them) and an extensive catalogue of products. All of these features give consumers a chance to feel like they are part of the company. The website allows Viz to break the barrier between publisher and consumer, allowing Viz to shows its readers that they love Manga just as much as they do.
Not only is the website important for the company, but Viz is a topic of discussion on many Manga news websites and Internet forums. Word-of-Mouth communication probably the biggest way Manga is discovered in the Industry among consumers. Since licensing new titles is also a huge factor in the business (what titles you get the rights to can make or break your business), when Viz gets the rights to something popular, people will know, via press releases in the news section of their website, and adamantly discuss it. This works for the company, giving them a positive brand image as a company that is involved in the industry, who cares about the quality of their books and what their consumers think about their products.
Rational for Choice:
Since I learned about them in early late 1990, I have had nothing but respect for how they have handled their business and am glad to have contributed to their success over the years. I believe there are several reasons why I chose Viz Media to discuss as a successful brand. I think they are a very innovative brand. Viz has always done things that no one in the Manga industry dared to do and it has put them to the top. For example, when Manga was first introduced in America, it was in a 32 page comic book format. Viz decided, as a means to gain better market visibility, that they would print their comics in graphic novel format. This got their books into bookstores, reaching whole new markets of readers.
Viz can also be considered innovative when looking at their user-friendly website. In comparison with other sites (like Tokyopop), Viz makes it incredibly simple to find what you are looking for. The website, along with their books and DVDs, also stays focused on Viz products, not on Manga as a whole. Tokyopop, Viz’s leading competitor, started a social networking site in 2008 to try to increase traffic and awareness of the brand. The site, which was not focused on Tokyopop products but rather Manga as a whole, essentially backfired on the company, not increasing sales as they had hoped.
Along with being extremely innovative, Viz Media is also a very conscious company. To explain, holding the license to a certain title gives the company access to a number of different products (comics, toys, DVDs) to work with. Instead of releasing all of those properties at once and trying to tie them together, as many American companies do, Viz takes a more strategic approach. They first release the Manga, and then figure out which of the other consumer products will come out first, when its going to come out and which will have the most impact. By figuring out what to release each year and how strong it will be in the market, Viz is building support that it can use later on, when newer products are released. For example, when a new Naruto Game is released, Viz can advertise for already existing toys or Manga along with it. Thus Viz extends their product’s life cycle.
To conclude, it is no wonder why Viz is the market leader in the Manga category. Their history shows that they are a company willing to go lengths to try to succeed. They are innovative with their product lines and understand what their consumers want and are more than willing to give it to them.