Baulkham Hills, New South Wales
Pablo Munoz, Risk and Quality Assurance Manager
COMPANY AND INDUSTRY OVERVIEW
While still often perceived as just a music group, The Wiggles is an international business that provides family entertainment through concerts, CDs, DVDs, television, toys, play centres, theme parks and online communities. The Wiggles began their international activity by touring with the support of business partners; and today they also export merchandise, conduct foreign direct investment in the USA, and are active in NZ, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Canada and Taiwan. The Wiggles have made plans to enter South America, and are considering additional markets in Asia. For this born global firm, foreign expansion – notably into the USA – was part of a conscious strategy to sustain the business. Indeed, 75 to 80 per cent. of The Wiggles’ total revenue now comes from overseas markets. ELEMENTS OF COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
Ignoring discouraging criticism from many in the childhood entertainment industry, The Wiggles pursued a novel business model, in which children’s entertainment was made accessible to adults. To inform their undertaking, individual Wiggles obtained tertiary qualifications in early childhood development. A decade and a half later, The Wiggles are recognised as Australia’s highest-earning entertainers. They have conquered much of the English-speaking world and are now turning their attention to markets which speak other languages. Despite emerging competition from other children’s groups such as Hi-5 and the Hooley Dooleys, The Wiggles have proved winners in developing and promoting a strong brand name on a global basis. EVOLUTION OF THE COMPANY:
The Wiggles were formed in 1991 by two members of the Sydney rock band The Cockroaches. Initially, The Wiggles played at children’s birthday parties and shopping centres as a support act for Dorothy the Dinosaur. Yet they soon discovered that both children and adults were highly receptive to their performance in its own right. A fundamental component of The Wiggles’ success is that they offer an innovative approach to children’s entertainment. The fact that the music is derived from rock ‘n’ roll means that it appeals not only to children, but also to their parents and guardians. By 2000, The Wiggles were touring English-speaking countries, where their commodity could be sold with little modification. And in 2001, they gained exposure to about 65 million Americans by participating in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Owing to the recent terrorist attacks, many people were reluctant to fly, so The Wiggles were embraced by US viewers as a foreign act that had taken the risk to travel and entertain them on US soil.
2001 was also significant because it marked the arrival of Mike Conway as General Manager for Business Affairs. Previously, The Wiggles had operated informally, in accordance with the founding members’ background in rock ’n’ roll and focus on playing gigs. However, the founding members recognised that further growth and development of The Wiggles required formal business management. They also judged The Wiggles to be a brand that could continue even if they all left. The correctness of this judgment has been confirmed by the effective use of substitute Wiggles in Australia and abroad, as well as the successful replacement of Greg the Yellow Wiggle, after his retirement. Mike Conway initiated strategic board meetings and prompted the founding Wiggles to think of ways of leveraging their creative content. This resulted in The Wiggles producing CDs and DVDs, developing TV episodes and merchandise, and exploring different channels such as retail environments, the community and websites. For example, the Wiggles have set up play centres in Seven Hills, NSW and Dallas, Texas. These low key locations accord both with The Wiggles’ cautious, experimental approach and with their...