There are a lot of popular film franchises out there, but none that have been able to create an unofficial holiday that’s been as popular and enduring as Star Wars Day.
The holiday, celebrated every May 4th — thanks to a pun replacing the iconic Star Wars catchphrase “May the force be with you” with “May the fourth be with you” — was created organically by fans and spread quickly online and through the media.
The first major organized celebration of Star Wars Day took place in Toronto, Canada in 2011, and the holiday has become extremely popular in the years since. Sports teams have celebrated the day with special Star Wars themed uniforms and major brands run special ad campaigns on social media to capitalize on Star Wars fandom.
As the leader in global ecommerce acceleration, we’re constantly analyzing trends in online commerce to help brands understand how various events impact consumer behavior. So, with Star Wars day around the corner, we wanted to discover:
- Does Star Wars Day generate demand for the franchise?
- Which Star Wars characters see the most online demand on Amazon and when?
- Does Star Wars Day drive demand for Star Wars merchandise?
To find out the answers to these questions, our data science team examined several search terms and categories associated with Star Wars and analyzed market demand on Amazon over the past few years.
Does Star Wars Day generate demand for Star Wars?
We started by examining demand on Amazon for a variety of Star Wars related items and terms for each week of 2021. Here’s what we found:
The Star Wars franchise clearly gets a boost on Amazon during the week of Star Wars Day, rising to 10% above the average week throughout the year. It’s not an insignificant bump, but it’s clear that May 4th isn’t enough to bring the weekly demand up to the levels of the year’s other high water marks: The tail end of the Mandalorian Season 2 at the beginning of the year, and the holiday shopping season and premiere of the Book of Boba Fett in December.
But, since we’re examining demand on Amazon, we thought examining Star Wars merchandise would be particularly insightful.
Star Wars Day clearly drives demand for merchandise, but once again, to levels behind the holidays and the excitement that comes with new entries in the franchise.
Which Star Wars characters were the most popular in 2021?
Star Wars is responsible for some of the most iconic characters of all time, so we next wanted to dig even deeper into the data to see which ones generated the most demand, when they’re the most popular, and which ones got the biggest bumps on Star Wars Day.
Let’s start by examining which characters experienced the most demand during all of 2021. Here are some of the top performing terms from our analysis:
Here is where we see the impact of Disney Plus’s smash hit show, The Mandalorian. Baby Yoda was far and away the most popular term, drawing a stunning 243% more demand than the Mandalorian himself.
In third place was the original Yoda, although it’s quite possible that some of those searches were for little baby Grogu as well.
In fourth place was Boba Fett, who not only appeared in the second season of the Mandalorian, but had his own show launched on Disney Plus in December of 2021.
Darth Vader is the first original trilogy character to appear on this list, rounding out the top five.
From there, Kylo Ren and Darth Maul were the most popular characters from the sequel and prequel trilogies, showing the allure of a good villain.
But at the end of the day, it’s Baby Yoda’s world and we’re just living in it.
Which Star Wars characters got the biggest boost from Star Wars Day in 2021?
While there’s no doubting the power of Baby Yoda and the Mandalorian, we wanted to see which characters got the biggest bump from Star Wars Day. To do that, we took daily demand for each character on the week of May 4th and compared it to their average day for the entire year.
It’s no real surprise that the Bad Batch, a scrappy band of Clone Troopers topped this list, as their brand new animated TV series launched on Star Wars Day.
Cuddly favorites Ewoks got the second largest weekly lift, while even Baby Yoda, who is popular year round, got enough of a boost to capture the number three spot on the list.
Star Wars Day clearly has a significant impact on demand for Star Wars characters, as almost every single one in our analysis received at least some sort of increase in demand. Only Boba Fett, who saw the bulk of his 2021 demand come at the end of the year during the launch of the Book of Boba Fett TV series, failed to receive any kind of boost in demand on Star Wars Day 2021.
When is demand highest for major Star Wars characters?
Now that we’ve seen which characters benefited the most from Star Wars Day, let’s close out by examining demand for different groups of major characters to see when demand is highest for them.
2021 started off with sky high demand for Baby Yoda and the Mandalorian, which had just aired its season 2 finale in mid-December 2020. Demand for Luke Skywalker was also up big after the character’s surprise appearance in that finale.
Demand for the Bad Batch surged from basically nothing during the week of Star Wars Day when their new show premiered, then hit a high point midway through the first season.
Boba Fett saw demand surge toward the end of the year with the launch of his show, which premiered on Dec 29th.
Ewoks are a good example of a character who relied much more heavily on Star Wars Day, as the characters weren’t featured in any new properties last year and saw their big boosts come on Star Wars Day and the holiday shopping season.
When we look at the change in monthly demand since 2019, we can see the tremendous impact that the launch of a new movie or TV series has on demand for specific Star Wars characters.
December 2019 brought a surge in demand for Baby Yoda as the character was introduced to the world for the first time. Kylo Ren also received a big boost that month with the release of Rise of Skywalker.
December 2021, however, failed to drive nearly as much demand as the previous two years, suggesting that the Book of Boba Fett, while enough to drive a sizable increase for its title character, wasn’t quite the monumental hit of The Mandalorian or the release of a mainline series movie.
One character who had an interesting surge in demand was for Cara Dune, another character from the Mandalorian.
Demand shot up by over 500% in the weeks following the announcement that Gina Carano, the actress who portrayed the character, was being fired from the show after a series of controversial tweets.
The surge in demand was clearly short lived, however, and has remained at basically zero for the majority of the rest of the year.
How does Star Wars Day impact demand for Star Wars Merchandise?
Finally, let’s take a look at how Star Wars Day impacts sales for the franchise’s merchandise.
Star Wars Legos were clearly the toy of choice when it came time to celebrate May 4th. Demand surged by 80% on the week of April 18th, and stayed around that high through the week of Star Wars Day.
The holiday is so big for Star Wars Legos that it was well above even the holiday shopping season.
Lego Star Wars, which is a popular video game series, didn’t receive nearly as significant an increase as the physical toys it’s based on.
The Millennium Falcon, the most iconic ship in the series, received the next largest bump in demand during the holiday with an 8% increase, a clear boost for that time of year, but one that lagged well behind the holiday shopping season.
Light sabers, another extremely popular piece of Star Wars merchandise, did see demand rise week over week on May 4th, but that holiday is absolutely dwarfed by the demand surge during Halloween and Christmas.
A lesson for brands
Our analysis shows that Star Wars Day is far more than just a silly pun or a made up fan holiday. It’s a day that drives real demand for one of the biggest intellectual properties in the world. Star Wars Day is so big, in fact, that it competes with major events like Christmas, Halloween, and even the release of actual Star Wars movies.
Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.
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And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today. May the 4th be with you!