Why Netflix Is Opening Permanent Retail Locations Starting in 2025

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Do you want a side of fries — or maybe a T-shirt or hoodie — with your next binge-worthy Netflix show?

Netflix announced plans to open its first permanent bricks-and-mortar locations, initially targeting two in the U.S. in 2025. (The company has not said where those will be.) The outlets will be kind of mini theme parks: They’ll serve food and drink, sell merchandise and include “immersive” installations based on its hit titles like “Squid Game” or “Stranger Things.”

But Netflix’s vision for the permanent retail destinations, as with its other IRL activations to date, is for them to serve primarily as marketing vehicles promoting the core streaming service. The goal with the Netflix House concept is to drive fan engagement, VP of consumer products Josh Simon told Bloomberg. “We’ve seen how much fans love to immerse themselves in the world of our movies and TV shows, and we’ve been thinking a lot about how we take that to the next level,” he said.

The permanent stores represent a logical evolution for Netflix’s steady retail expansion. Under Simon, the company has launched more than 40 pop-up locations to date, including the “Netflix Bites” restaurant in Los Angeles this summer and ticketed experiences like “The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience” and “Stranger Things: The Experience.” Its next immersive experience is “Squid Game: The Trials,” opening in L.A. on Dec. 6. Players will compete in six different challenges over the course of 70 minutes, with tickets starting at $39 each (more info at this link).

Simon also led Netflix’s launch of an online ecommerce business stocked with exclusive merch based on the streamer’s original shows and films, including “One Piece,” “Castlevania Nocturne,” “Heartstopper,” “The Witcher,” “Bridgerton” and “Stranger Things.”

In addition, Netflix has inked multiple licensing deals for tie-ins with its originals, such as line of Scoops Ahoy ice cream available at Walmart based on the fictional shop in the Starcourt Mall that was a centerpiece of “Stranger Things” Season 3. And Netflix recently inked its first consumer-products licensing deal in the gambling sector, with a “Squid Game” slot machine slated to drop into casinos in 2024.

But again, Netflix’s consumer business today (and for at least the next several years) functions as a supporting character in the streaming storyline. In other words, it will be some time, if ever, before Netflix could build something resembling Disney’s multibillion-dollar theme park and cruise line segment. The company is set to report third-quarter 2023 earnings next Wednesday, Oct. 18, after the market closes, where it’s expected to provide updates on its password-sharing crackdown and ad-supported streaming business.

Simon joined Netflix in March 2020 to head up the company’s consumer products division. He previously spent five years at Nike, most recently as VP and head of global strategy for product, design, merchandising and categories, and before that he was director of production and development at Walt Disney Studios.

Pictured above: Maya Hawke and Joe Keery work the Scoops Ahoy counter in “Stranger Things” Season 3

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