As the holiday season descends upon us like fog in the Gotham skyline, I cannot help but wonder what would a super hero buy? Would Spiderman be awake at 1am standing in line at a Best Buy? Would Zatanna be trolling the Internet on cyber Monday looking for the best deals on top hats? Doubtful. So if the super heroes are all taken care of, what do you get their fans?
And is this really a surprise – fans make up a large portion of the “consuming market.”- something any smart company shouldn’t ignore. According Henry Jenkins’s 80/20 rule – 20 percent of the audience (the fans) create 80 percent of the revenue. When it comes to sales, fans are not looked at as “irritants” but as “loyal consumers to be courted” and courted they are – on every shelf and in every aisle there are rows and rows of endless fan paraphernalia from more main stream vendors like Target stocking up on the common super hero items to smaller privately owned specialty stores staying open later to compete.
But the fans are partly at fault here too. A fan must establish the depth of their fandom by possessing the coolest, newest, most rare artifact of their adoration. The rarer, the more coveted. Owning the $17,000 golf cart refurbished to look like Batman’s Tumbler or the $4000 Essential Amazing Spiderman:Vol 3 will only increase a fan’s social capitol within the community.
But it’s more than just building one’s own status within a community, it’s about the personal connection to the text. Lawrence Grossberg writes that a fan’s connection to the media is “immediate and based on the emotional process of investing and identifying.”It is then a possibility that this emotional proximity to the text, might cause fans to trample each other over $500 PS4.
The very nature of fandom is consumption of a text and that text comes at a price, ready to be wrapped and placed under a tree this holiday season.