A value proposition for The Walt Disney Company

  Written by Louis Gudema

A value proposition is a valuable way for a company to explain to itself and the world what it does. As an internal instrument the company can use its value proposition as its North Star, always guiding its actions. For the world the value proposition is central to the company’s brand: the promise that it is making to them.

The Walt Disney Company is one of the most valuable brands in the world but, surprisingly, it does not express a true, public value proposition. Repeatedly the company describes itself in terms such as this:

The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international entertainment and media enterprise with five business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, consumer products and interactive.

And this:

The company’s primary financial goals are to maximize earnings and cash flow, and to allocate capital toward growth initiatives that will drive long-term shareholder value.

There’s only one thing missing from that: the customer. The Disney descriptions are company- and shareholder-centric. While maximizing shareholder value is an important component of any public company, ultimately it only happens in the long run through providing a true value to customers.

A value proposition is a customer-centric statement that includes:

  • What product or services does the company provide the customer
  • Who is the customer and how is that valuable to them
  • What is unique about the way this company provides that value

This is a potential value proposition for Disney:

The Walt Disney Company provides magical, many-times-in-a-lifetime experiences for children of all ages.

These unique experiences are created through the ingenuity and storytelling ability of Disney employees and delivered in a consistent yet surprising manner. For decades people at Disney have delighted people by bringing to life such characters as Mickey Mouse, The Lion King, Belle, The Pirates of the Caribbean, Jessie, the students in High School Musical, and Anna and Elsa through media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, consumer products and interactive. Not only do people interact with Disney creative across many media, but throughout their lifetime: people who grew up with Disney then in turn trust Disney to entertain and educate their children, too.

The Disney operational excellence, which is studied by companies in many industries, allows us to provide these experiences in a way that maximizes profitability and shareholder value.

This is a far more balanced value proposition that puts the customer — “children of all ages” – first; provides some detail on what is provided and its goal: to delight the customer; and also describes some of the unique creative and operational components of the company on which Disney builds to meet the needs of the customers and shareholders.

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