Nerd Business

The Age of Ultron cast at San Diego Comic Con

Nerd Business

By Michelle L. Jensen, for

In the past few years there has been a huge uptick in the amount of events associated with the pop culture world. However, pop culture has a new name, and that’s nerd! Whether it is Nerdist or The Nerd Machine, companies of this nature are on the rise. Nerd has grown to be a massive, multi-million dollar business. San Diego Comic Con in 2015 alone had $80,429,231 in direct attendee spending.

Attendance over time graph for San Diego Comic Con

The Growing Need

Started in 1970, San Diego Comic Con has had attendance increase exponentially. Originally founded by a group of San Diegans, it was grown to be the eighth largest comic convention in the world. The number one convention is Comiket, which is hosted in Tokyo, Japan with 590,000 people attending annually.

Expanding Nerdom

Comic conventions aren’t just about comic books or graphic novels anymore. They’re about TV, film, book series, anime, gaming, and so much more. The big attraction for many conventions are the celebrities associated with these projects. Everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to Tom Hiddleston heads down to San Diego to promote his or her latest project. Hosting panels with talent gives fans a way to see their favorite celebrities in person and feel as if they’re having a personal connection with them.

The Next Generation

Aside from the celebrity, the recent insurgence of these events is in part due to nostalgia. Those who grew up with Star Wars and similar projects have matured into adults and are now ushering in a new generation to these projects: their children.

This amalgamation of two major generations creates a large demographic for these businesses creating content. Parents want to share their childhood passions with their children, making nostalgia profitable for companies like Marvel, who are using film and television to bring to life characters that used to only live on paper. All this leads to audiences wanting more and more nerd in their world.

In the past, conventions have been the only option to feed this need- and though the titans of the nerd world are still going strong, they aren’t the only show in town.

Superhero Rising

Now, what does a nerd do between conventions?

To fill this time and feed the growing desire for more and more content, the event world has stepped in. Events ranging from family friendly to adult have sprung up around the world.

Recently, the Fullerton Public Library hosted an Ollivanders’s Pop Up Shop: Make Your Own Harry Potter Wand event for kids. With the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Los Angeles and the just released Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, this is a perfect event for an establishment looking to bring in an audience.

Pokémon Go on the Go

The Pokémon Go logo along with Pikachu holding a frothy beer

Pokémon Go, everyone’s new favorite app, is also inspiring events. Everything from meetups in local parks to pub crawls are bringing Pokémon trainers out to catch em’ all.

There are also teen and young adult events such as Acrobatica Infiniti Circus that hosts a ‘Nerd Circus’. The first of it’s kind, it melds cosplay and circus arts together to create a variety style event where the audience witnesses their favorite characters come to life and perform extraordinary acts.

Nerdy Burlesque

If you thought Star Wars was just for kids, you were wrong. The Empire Strips Back is a Star Wars burlesque parody that has been touring for quite a while and has inspired other burlesque parody shows. Peepshow Menagerie has put together a number of burlesque events inspired by nerd culture: everything from Marvel comics to Sailor Moon to Doctor Who has been turned into a burlesque show.

We most certainly are in a new age of events and activities inspired by superheroes, anime, film, TV and more.

Geeks Who Drink Pub Trivia

If performance art isn’t your cup of tea, there is plenty more out there for you in the form of weekly gaming events and trivia. Geeks Who Drink was modeled after pub quizzes in Ireland and the UK. Their quizzes cover everything from celebrities in trouble to wordplay to bad television. They host a number of weekly events across the country, with several bars and restaurants hosting their events in hundreds of cities. The popular company even inspired a short-lived game show hosted on Syfy.

What Can We Learn from This?

From a business standpoint, these events are a great way to promote all year long with little effort from the companies that own the intellectual property. If someone is hosting a Pokémon Go event, they’re potentially getting hundreds of users to use your product!

It also shows that it’s no longer necessary to spend hundreds of thousands, or millions, at big conventions in order to promote. Money can be spent on these smaller events, which are more intimate. These specialized events make it easier to target your ideal audience.

Do you have a nerd related business to promote? How could these examples help you? Hopefully this article inspired you with case studies that you’ll be able to use for your own success!

Get out there!

Michelle L. Jensen

Michelle L. Jensen

Michelle L. Jensen is the creator of Nerd Out, a free nerd event calendar mobile app, and of Your Friend Elle, a travel and nerd blog inspired by superheroes, film, TV, and history! Originally from Long Island, NY. She now resides in Los Angeles.
Michelle L. Jensen

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