Thursday, December 29, 2005

Comic Book Saturation

A comic book friend of mine inquired about why Harvey would have expanded its "Casper" line if the series was flagging (see yesterday's blog), so I responded with the following (adjusted for blog purposes):

Having multiple titles of a character isn't as strange as it may seem. Especially now with multiple Superman, Batman, X-Men, etc titles, where there weren't so many in the Richie Rich expansion days. The "saturation principle" must work or realistically SEEM to work in order to pump up a flagging series or character or everyone wouldn't be doing it. You can have more titles out concurrently with the same character to give added exposure and the appearance that the character is successful. Then success breeds success.

Coca-Cola and beer companies do it all the time. I'm sure Coke would do just
fine with "Coke", but they have to hog shelf space with Diet Coke, Coke Zero,
caffeine free Coke, caffeine free Diet Coke, etc. It's the same principle.

I spoke with a local comic book store owner about this very thing and he feels that it is always a mistake to do it, because it distills what is pure with the original product no matter what it is. It happened with the a local newspaper where I worked until August of this year. They had a great little paper out with high circulation and they screwed it up by cutting the morning circulation and adding an afternoon edition with fewer pages. It pissed people off looking for the fat morning paper later in the day.

The comic book store owner thought about expanding his store base, but he doesn't want to distill what is good about his stores, so he has limited it to two locations. He says that if he did open a third, he might try one in another state, as opposed to a third in California. But since he now has a fairly successful mail order business, the need for a third store isn't as important.

Overall, companies do these things like saturation for marketing reasons, but
sometimes it backfires. In the case of Casper, it didn't work. In the case of
Richie Rich (at least from 1971-1982), it did work. New Kids on the Block
didn't, but Superman did. Archie did. And it goes on and on.


Mark Arnold

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