Shanghai Disneyland apologizes after hunger marketing of Christmas toys sparks sky-high prices and fury
Published: Dec 30, 2021 06:27 PM
The Shanghai Disney Resort reopened on November 3, 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Disney Resort

The Shanghai Disney Resort reopened on November 3, 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Disney Resort

Shanghai Disneyland issued an apology after its hunger marketing of limited-edition Christmas toys led to skyrocketing prices and sparked fury directed toward the resort's marketing staff who were accused of fanning superstitions among Chinese consumers about cultural icons. 

The public anger-pressured apology, per industry observers, serves as a wake-up call against such abnormal sales tactics that ought to be put under control. 

Shanghai Disneyland announced via its official account on Twitter-like Chinese social media Sina Weibo that "we regret that we could not meet all the demand and we will continue to improve in the future." Shanghai Disneyland also said the sale of its Christmas collection has now ended. On multiple Chinese resale platforms, prices of single toys have been multiplied nearly 10 times. 

The topic "More than 5,000 people lined up at Disney at 3 am" repeatedly appeared on the search trending list of Sina Weibo since Wednesday with millions of views. Zhang Yi, CEO of the iiMedia Research Institute, told the Global Times on Thursday that abnormal resale prices of specific items are usually caused by consumers who want to financialize the items and make profits out of them.

 "The 'limited sale' and 'hunger marketing' are common marketing strategies for companies, but they should be under related supervisions," said Zhang. He noted that there are some terms in related laws to regulate market participants' marketing strategies at present but they not clear or effective enough. "If the enterprises' 'hunger marketing' gets out of control, it may even cause systematic financial risks, therefore, stricter and more detailed laws such as anti-monopoly law should be issued and rectify marketing order," Zhang suggested. 

It is not the first time thousands of people have lined up overnight at Shanghai Disneyland. The incident made some netizens recall the chaotic night at Marvel's 10th anniversary gala held at Shanghai Disneyland on April 18, 2018. Some netizens pointed out that Shanghai Disneyland's "hunger marketing" has not been restricted at all, nor has its management improved in the past years. According to photos and videos spreading on social media, thousands of visitors were waiting outside Shanghai Disneyland early on Wednesday to buy the 2021 Duffy and Friends Christmas Collection. 

The moment the gates opened people dashed into the resort, mostly adults. The original price of the toy collection that comprises 12 different toys, key chains and backpacks is 4,158 yuan ($652.9). A seller on Xianyu, a secondhand item trading platform, resold a whole set of Duffy and Friends series, known as the Christmas Collection, for 14,444 yuan. 

The seller said that the Christmas collection was only sold to customers via a lottery system, but there were still a lot of people who arrived at the theme park early on Wednesday, even at 2 am hoping to snap up a collectable. 

"Thousands of people rushed to the theme park and stood in the cold for more than 12 hours without eating or drinking, reminiscent of the flood of zombies in the South Korean film Train to Busan," the seller said. The seller noted that she and her friends joined the lottery and one of her friends won the lottery. On Wednesday morning Shanghai Disneyland issued an emergency notice on its WeChat account, saying that it has suspended the lines waiting to enter the three stores of the park for Wednesday as it reached the capacity limit for queues at its venue.