April 20, 2021

Analysis: The Market Force of Star Wars Fans

By Pattern Data Science / Amazon, Insights & Reporting

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.

Being huge data fanatics, we wanted to investigate the impact of Star Wars Day further. Specifically, we wanted to see how Star Wars Day impacts consumer behavior, when Star Wars generates the most demand, which types of Star Wars terms have the most demand year round, and which ones get the biggest boost from Star Wars Day.

Our data science team analyzed market demand for Star Wars terms on Amazon in 2020 to see how May 4th impacted demand last year in hopes it might shed some light on how things might look this year.

Does Star Wars Day generate demand for Star Wars?

We started by examining demand on Amazon for “Star Wars” for every day of 2020.

We discovered that yes, Star Wars Day drove a huge increase in demand for Star Wars products on Amazon last year. On May 4th, 2020, demand surged 93% higher than the average day throughout the rest of the year.

Here’s a day-by-day view of consumer demand for Star Wars products on Amazon last year:

As you can see, demand was high for Star Wars products to start the year, likely thanks to a residual holiday bump and the release of Rise of Skywalker on December 20th, 2019.

By early spring demand had settled to a more consistent level, which is where you can really see the significant impact that Star Wars Day makes on typical demand.

Here are the top 10 days of 2020:

The top 4 days of the year all came in the first week of the year, which is normally a slower time of the year for market demand. This shows just how powerful a new Star Wars movie is when it comes to driving demand.

Star Wars Day was the 6th biggest day of the year, the only day in the top 10 that wasn’t right in the wake of Rise of Skywalker or during the holiday shopping season (which also coincided with the wildly popular second season of The Mandalorian).

Which Star Wars characters were the most popular in 2020?

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 2020. 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. “Yoda” was far and away the most popular term, but there’s little doubt that many of those searches were intended for Baby Yoda, as demand for Baby Yoda (aka Grogu) was next highest.

Those two terms plus “Mandalorian” simply towered over all the rest in our analysis.

Darth Vader and Stormtrooper, a pair of original trilogy favorites, rounded out the top five. Kylo Ren was easily the most popular character of the sequel trilogy, while Darth Maul was the clear prequel favorite.

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 2020?

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 May 4th and compared it to their average day for the entire year.

Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s former padawan, and a fan-favorite from Star Wars animated TV shows Clone Wars and Rebels, benefited from Star Wars Day the most with a massive 300% increase compared to a typical day.

Perennial favorite Han Solo was #2 with an impressive 260% increase in demand, while Padme Amidala, Rey, and Ewoks rounded out the top five. Interestingly, it was the heroines of the franchise that appeared to receive the biggest bumps in demand on Star Wars Day, as four of the top six biggest boosts were for products related to female characters.

Star Wars Day clearly has a significant impact on demand for most every Star Wars character, though. 12 of the 29 on our list experienced increases of 100% or greater. The only characters that experienced a decrease in demand were Lando Calrissian, Darth Sidious, and the characters that were popular all-year round (especially later in the year): Yoda, Baby Yoda/Grogu, and the Mandalorian.

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.

When is demand highest for Original Trilogy characters?

We’ll start at the beginning, with the biggest names from the original trilogy:

Demand was consistently highest for Darth Vader and Stormtrooper, starting the year strong on the heels of the release of Rise of Skywalker.

All characters experienced a comparative boost on Star Wars Day, for many of them, it was actually Halloween that drove the biggest boost in demand.

To show just how big Halloween is for some of these classic characters, here’s a view of the change in weekly demand for each week of last year:

The biggest boost any one character received during last year was Princess Leia during the week before Halloween, as people everywhere stuck to a costume classic.

Other popular Halloween costumes appeared to be Chewbacca, Han Solo, C-3PO, and Stormtrooper.

Another notable boost from last year? Luke Skywalker got a last-minute jolt in demand during the holidays for reasons we’ll stay away from just in case you’re still avoiding December 2020 Star Wars spoilers.

When is demand highest for Prequel Trilogy characters?

Next, let’s examine the same views for characters from the Prequel Trilogy:

Darth Maul started the year as the most popular prequel trilogy character, and also hit the highest Star Wars Day demand figure overall.

Obi Wan Kenobi was easily the most popular Halloween costume from the characters in this set, but let’s examine the change in weekly demand to see which characters got the biggest boosts and when.

(Also, we know Obi Wan was an Original Trilogy character first, but what can we say? Ewan McGregor’s charisma was enough for us to put him in this chart.)

While overall demand during Halloween was highest for Obi Wan Kenobi, Padme Amidala received far and away the biggest boost during that time. Starting as early as September, demand for Natalie Portman’s character began to skyrocket, where it was around or above an increase of 200% for multiple weeks.

The biggest Star Wars Day increase, of course, goes to Ahsoka (who we recognize isn’t exactly a “Prequel Trilogy” character, but we’re including her here). She also got the biggest boost during the holidays, likely due to her popping up on an episode of the Mandalorian.

When is demand highest for Sequel Trilogy characters?

Now, let’s move on to the batch of characters from the Sequel Trilogy. As we covered earlier in this article, demand for Star Wars was high to start 2020 thanks to Rise of Skywalker, so let’s see if that trend holds true for the characters from that film series.

Kylo Ren was far and away the most popular character of the sequel trilogy in terms of market demand, especially to start the year as Rise of Skywalker was still in theaters.

BB-8 was the next most popular, with Rey and Poe Dameron falling far behind the rest. (Finn had multiple weeks where demand was zero, and thus we did not include him in these views).

Here’s a look at change in demand from week to week:

Each of our Sequel trilogy characters started the year on a high, and they all also saw a measurable increase on Star Wars Day. The clear winner during Halloween, meanwhile, was Rey, peaking at a 163% increase during the week of October 18th.

When is demand highest for Mandalorian characters?

Last but certainly not least, let’s take a look at demand for characters from the Mandalorian.

As we covered earlier in this article, Yoda, Baby Yoda/Grogu, and Mandalorian saw the highest overall demand in all of 2020. As you can see in the chart above, demand really began to pick up for those three terms in late October as season 2 of the show began.

This is why we’re including “Yoda” here even though he’s technically an original trilogy character, he’s clearly getting a lot of demand from people looking for Baby Yoda. We’ve also included Boba Fett in this group since his character made a prominent appearance in the Mandalorian last season, and Disney has announced his character will be appearing in his own streaming show next year.

Let’s see how weekly demand changed compared to the average week throughout the year:

Only Boba Fett experienced a positive increase in demand on Star Wars Day. That’s just how high demand was for the other characters during November and December.

You can also see that demand for Mandalorian and Yoda/Baby Yoda began to spike in Mid-November, while Boba Fett didn’t start to spike until early December, when his character made his first big appearance on the show.

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.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.

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!

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