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‘Be persistent and be consistent’ advises CMC panel

Retail is challenging, but there are still opportunities out there to grow licensed product sales, say key execs.

Yes, retail may be challenging at the moment, but there are still opportunities for licensed products – and new IP – to build a presence.

That was the view of a panel of licensing executives at a session called Steps to Retail Success (sponsored by LIMA) held at the Children’s Media Conference yesterday (July 5).

Introduced by Sarah Fletcher, director of Maximum Licensing, the panel – Patrick Bailey, coo of Fashion UK/Global Licensing; Libby Grant, director of We are Bloom; Ian Wickham, director and co-founder of Licensing Link Europe; Gary Panton, commissioning editor, Ladybird; and Richard Hollis, licensing consultant – acknowledged that it was currently a tough retail landscape to work in.

“Retail is not in a particularly great state and the customer dynamic is changing, too,” Ian admitted when asked if it was tough for new IP to break through at the moment. “That certainly has to be taken into account with plans for both new and existing IP.

“However, there are still opportunities for new IP. You need to know your market and what’s happening within it. Check out what’s going on with other brands and how companies have successfully launched them into the market.”

Libby agreed that a big part to success is knowing which retailer is going to work best for your brand.

She said: “It’s being able to communicate your vision to the retailer; they will be buying into these brands for a long time, so don’t be afraid to be persistent. Be consistent. Target a retailer that matches where you see your brand; don’t just take a scattergun approach as retailers are looking for differentiation more and more.”

Patrick added that, from a licensee perspective, there are always opportunities for new brands. “When we go into retailers, they are looking for opportunities. As a licensee, it’s great to have a good mix of brands – classic and new. At the moment we are seeing a lot of pick up for gaming properties and this will be something to watch for next year.”

Gary pointed out that timing is perhaps more important than ever before. “You only really get one chance at retail now,” he commented. “I’m not sure that Peppa Pig for example would have been given 3-4 years to grow at retail now.”

Looking further ahead and into 2019, Richard noted that industry consolidation is a real issue. “There is potentially a danger from this as it could lead to shelf space all going to one place,” he pointed out. “However, looking at the trend for user generated content… could this feed through into user generated product?”

And Ian left the assembled delegates with this thought: “The business model used needs to be adapted. Product needs to get to market quickly and that can’t happen in certain sectors currently. It’s going to be a challenge working that out.”

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