Star Wars – “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Posted on December 17th, 2015 by


When’s editorial staff compiled a list of their Top Ten Yoda Quotations, the above quote was their Number One.

The Force must be strong with SpringTide too, as we have that on our office wall, along with various inspirational messages from the likes of Shakespeare, Darwin, Einstein, Descartes, Richard Branson and the Dalai Lama.  Yoda is the only puppet quoted, as far as I can tell. But his message is powerful – and his influence? Well…

An online survey was conducted by Harris Poll between September 14th and 16th, 2015, among 2,031 adults ages 18 and older, for California Supply Chain Analytics company FusionOps. Amongst those surveyed, 801 described themselves as Star Wars fans and 912 respondents said they intended to purchase Star Wars toys in connection with the December release of “Episode VII: The Force Awakens.”

The majority of Star Wars fans (63%) expect Episode VII to be the best Star Wars yet. The reasons given for this excitement by percentage of fans are

Personally, I’m looking forward to The Force Awakens immensely. What about you? And so far, I, for one, feel that demand for merchandise to be quite understandable (make that 802 fans). But wait: “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced” (Obi-Wan Kenobi). The merchandise has actually been on sale since “Force Friday” on September 9th: and demand can only increase as we head for Christmas. What about supply? Well, 69% of fans fear that the Star Wars toys will go out of stock. 38% believe that shops won’t be able to sustain light-sabre stocks, whilst 34% dread a lack of action figures, with 25% worried about R2D2 and 24% concerned they won’t be able to get their hands on a remote-controlled BB8 (the new spherical ‘droid). My own concern is that people seem to have forgotten C3PO altogether, by the way (curse my metal body!). Picture of Star Wars Merchandise Doing what we do at SpringTide and crunching those numbers, it looks to me as if worries over the merchandise supply chain outweigh the anticipation of the film itself. That appears to be the case with light-sabres, certainly – well, of course, “weapon of choice” and all that – but ‘droid-acquisition seems to be more important to fans than the story and the actors! Oh, well. Beyond the obvious and actually quite serious lesson for supply chain maintenance, we might all reflect on other elements of the survey and what they tell us about human nature here and now on our planet. At least, I think we’re talking about this planet… The suggestion is that 35% of Star Wars fans who want the merchandise would “react in some way” if they can’t get their toys for Christmas. I struggle to think of some of those reactions as “on brand.”

Before dismissing some of that as immature, it’s also worth noting that 22% of age-group specific “millennial” respondents (the cohort with ages ranging from 18 to 34, statistically higher than any other age group) said they would be willing to lie to other customers, and 20% would jump the queue.

Within those millennials, another 10% actually declared that unavailability of the merchandise would make them think less of the film’s Director, J.J. Abrams himself! That’s illogical, Captain! (sorry, wrong franchise).

The only other comment I’ll make for now is that, “The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded…” (Obi-Wan again). Seriously, though, the impact on the brand and on customer perception overall is something to ponder – lose control of the supply chain at your peril!

Since the merchandise report came out, the official poster for the film has been released. It came out on October 18th and has sponsored further excitement, some of it centered on the new “Death Star” that looms in the background.

Star Wars “logistics challenges” are nothing new, then. It has been seriously calculated that Death Star construction would require a quadrillion tonnes of steel, which would take 833,315 years to produce and would cost $852 quadrillion!

PIcture of a Starwars Storm Trooper Lego Figure

Cleaning something with a floor space estimated to be 359.2 million square kilometres would also take some interstellar elbow-grease. Assuming Earthlings to be employed, a full-time cleaning staff of 48 million people (33% of the United States labour force) would be required to do it annually. Or just one intrepid janitor could get it done in 11.4 million years.

Again assuming human resources deployed, drinking water alone would account for an annual supply of 68,398,994 gallons. And if they’re hiring English people, we might be looking at 1,291,325,835 cups of tea per year.

Finally, if the provision of lavatory facilities is going to conform to US Government, as opposed to Galactic Empire or Rock Festival standards, the Death Star will need 11,793 toilet blocks. Paper? Let’s not even go there…

Against that perspective and in more down-to-Earth terms: it really doesn’t seem to be so daunting a task to get the fans their merchandise, does it! But it’s clearly a customer experience that is taken very seriously!

One last question: what piece of merchandise would be top of your own wish-list? Given that we’re on a Procurement-oriented blog here, I’m guessing the light-sabre is going to be popular… but do contact us and let us know what you’d like and why.

“May the Spring Tide power your ship!” as we say here on planet Cannock.