The Force is strong this summer as Disney unveils a new, immersive Star Wars theme parks in California and Florida. Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge invites fans to the planet Batuu, where they can taste the famous blue Bantha milk from Star Wars movies, build their own lightsabers and droids, or even pilot the Millennium Falcon spaceship in a multiplayer game experience.
It’s a unique chance for fans to immerse themselves in the Star Wars universe like never before, and the enthusiasm is in hyperdrive: over 150,000 fans showed up to the reservation-only park opening on May 31, and Disney resort hotels are already sold out for weeks.
From a customer experience standpoint, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge represents the cutting ‘edge’ of immersive storytelling. The attraction bridges the gap between brand story and real-life experiences in a way that holds valuable lessons for business to consumer marketing, including the implementation of apps and personalized features.
Our scouts have returned from Batuu with these five powerful Jedi mind tricks that will boost your relationship marketing:
1. Limited access: Make it exclusive
Right now, the only place on our planet to experience a galaxy far, far away is at DisneyLand in Anaheim, California (the Florida location opens August 29). And between May 31 and June 23, access was exclusive to guests with advance reservations. Visitors can now enter the Star Wars world based on capacity and are limited to a four-hour time window before stormtroopers escort them out.
Jedi marketing lesson: Today’s consumers gravitate towards exclusive experiences. The more limited, the better; also from a standpoint of enviable social media content (‘Star Wars experience #weouthere’). Marketers can play the exclusivity card to generate hype around products and services, with valuable lessons from ‘drop’ culture in fashion and streetwear.
2. Personal experiences: Offer customization
Viewed in perspective, Disney serves experiences the way McDonald’s serves hamburgers: Consistent, repeatable, and loaded with a scientifically calculated dose of excitement. Nevertheless, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge offers plenty of options to make the experience personal for each of several thousand daily visitors: They can customize their own Astromech droid and build 122,880 different combinations of lightsabers in the on-site workshop.
Jedi marketing lesson: Email marketing also aims to create a personalized experience, despite its nature as an automated tool. With only a few creative email templates and personalized product recommendations created via artificial intelligence, marketers can individualize their email marketing with millions of variations.
3. Real-time engagement: Make every moment count
Even the Galaxy’s Edge requires waiting in line for the next attraction. But here’s where fans can log into their Play Disney Parks app that will automatically transform into the Star Wars: Datapad. The app lets visitors hack and scan terminals, participate in games of Rebels vs. First Order and translate the park’s signage from the Aurebesh language. What’s more, in-app actions affect the experience of the Millennium Falcon spaceship ride and other storytelling features.
Jedi marketing lesson: Use your marketing platform’s real-time marketing capabilities to engage consumers in opportune moments. Tools like Live Content, product offers generated by AI and behavioral retargeting help marketers Maximize Every Moment in their B2C marketing.
4. Shoppable experiences: Exit through the gift shop
That cool, unique lightsaber customized at Savi’s Workshop? It costs a cold $200 to take home. And the frosty Blue Milk – the Star Wars equivalent of Harry Potter’s Butterbeer – at Oga’s Cantina also costs more than your average terrestrial milk shake. Galaxy’s Edge is a completely shopified experience, from the latest galactic threads at Black Spire Outfitters, to cuddly creatures at Bina’s Creature Stall and kyber crystals at Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities.
Jedi marketing lesson: New technologies like kinetic email and social ‘buy’ buttons make the omnichannel marketing experience an increasingly shoppable experience. Disney masterfully hooks consumers on exclusive storytelling (see 1.), then lets them purchase a part of the experience to take home.
5. Customer loyalty: Keep them coming back
Galaxy’s Edge will be constantly updated with new experiences, like this Fall’s Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction. So after guests bid farewell in true planet Batuu style by saying, “Till the Spires!”, there’s always a reason to return. Plus, guests who stay at official Disney resorts may receive access to Magic Hours to enter the park outside of regular hours. And members of the Disney Vacation Club customer retention program collect points during each stay.
Jedi marketing lesson: Disney knows that driving repeat engagement with existing customers is far more profitable than a constant focus on lead generation. Insights from customer loyalty programs feed rich data into universal consumer profiles as the basis for AI-driven, relevant engagement. On that note, make sure to read the case study on how cinema group Cinesa acquired 5,000 new loyalty program members by using, not Jedi mind trickery, but Selligent’s dynamic content feature.
Looking for more blockbuster marketing ideas? Download the full case study on how ODEON cinemas created excitement around a Star Wars film release with interactive emails and personalized marketing.