Stranger supply chain things: Capacity planning lessons from Stranger Things

addtoany linkedin
Picture of a Stranger Things show character

As a teenager in the 80s, it probably comes as no surprise I relate heavily to every cultural reference in Stranger Things.

From the hair (I coveted to Steve’s A-Ha inspired coif) to the arcade (DigDug not so much – I would spend my allowance quarter by quarter on Star Castle and Defender, instead) and everything in between, the binge-watch worthy Netflix series contains pop culture Easter eggs in virtually every scene.

Which brings us to Dustin’s purple brontosaurus hoodie from Episode 1 of Stranger Things 2 - apparently purchased at The Science Museum of Minnesota, perhaps while on a road trip with his mom during the summer between season one and season two.

This seemingly innocuous vintage piece of costuming features the logo of a popular touring fossil exhibit popular in the 80s known as “Thunder Lizard”. Picking up on the appearance of their brand on the show, the museum scrambled to add the hoodie to their online and brick and mortar store.

Smart move. Why not capitalize on the most anticipated release of the fall entertainment season? However, it quickly became clear the museum lacked proper capacity planning and wasn’t prepared for 80,000 purple Thunder Lizard hoodie orders in a single day.

The crush of Stranger Things fandom-born conversions temporarily brought the museum’s website to its knees while an out-the-door lineup cleaned out on-site inventory. Unless the museum enters in to some sort of exclusive product placement agreement for season three, it’s unlikely they’ll ever have to deal with such a gift shop feeding frenzy again.

But if they do manage such a marketing coup, they may want to consider implementing modern supply chain must-haves, such as scenario simulation to look for alternate ways to deal with supplier and capacity constraints. After all, Thunder Lizard hoodies don’t grow on trees.

Concurrent planning for demand might sound optional, but when the people want their hoodies, who’s to argue? And while we’re on the subject of product placement, the Hawkins National Lab could probably use RapidResponse to better plan for the invasion of those pesky demodogs.


SSB Star
- November 23, 2017 at 6:56am
Quite an exciting article to read indeed.Thanks Mike.
- November 27, 2017 at 1:49pm
What a great way to bring capacity planning to life! Being able to predict these lifts with precision is one of the more difficult tasks in the life of a demand planner, and then the ability to react quickly and flexibly also puts a huge constraint on most companies' supply chains. Love the connection though to something that most people can understand quickly.

Leave a Reply