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“Brands need to consider how the consumer shops now”

Execs from across the industry discuss the changes in the UK retail landscape, and why brands need to embrace discounters.

Key execs from Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Asda, The Point.1888 and Rubies UK have highlighted the key challenges facing the licensing industry in retail.

During a session hosted by Richard Pink, md of Pink Key Licensing, at Brand Licensing Europe earlier this month entitled ‘Successfully navigating the changing retail environment’, the panel also emphasised the need for brands to include discounters in their retail plans.

Will Stewart, founder and md of The Point 1888, who had a background in retail before setting up his licensing agency, outlined brands’ opinion about certain retailers and who is suitable for their property and not having a full understanding of how their consumer shops, as one of the major challenges facing the industry.

Discussing discounters in particular, Will explained: “I think brands need to consider how the consumer shops now, and where they go. People don’t just shop in Waitrose now, they will shop around. A lot of these retailers [discounters] are great supporters of licensing, so we should embrace them and I think brand owners should really consider what they can get out of working with these retailers.”

The panel also discussed whether discount is a channel. Holly Oldham, md of Rubies UK thinks it is: “Discount is where the footfall is going and that’s certainly the area of growth and if we continue to trade just in the traditional channels, we’re not going to move with the times.

“I think the real challenge is what is the impact on the wider market. It is a channel in its own right, so how do you engineer product so that it can sit at the same time, whether it be in mass, whether it be in value, whether it be online. And we go back to one size no longer fits all.”

Rachel Wakley, general manager, consumer products, UK & Ireland, Warner Bros. highlighted that discounters don’t seem to be facing the same challenges as the wider retail market. She commented: “I hear constantly of how tough retail is. Aldi didn’t seem to get the email. Lidl seem to be doing alright. B&M are doing pretty well out of the whole thing.

“I don’t think every brand should necessarily be everywhere. Our job as brand owner is to differentiate our brand enough so that it can live in all of those places but it’s where the consumers are, not where I think they should be, but where they actually are.”

Ruth Golightly, senior buying manager, George Childrenswear – Girlswear and babywear, Asda, believes retailers outside discount need to add value elsewhere to compete: “We can do really different things, regardless of price, where price isn’t really the primary reason why consumers are buying things. Examples like the Primark Birmingham store weren’t really about the price, it was all about the customer experience. That’s where you need to compete with the discounters. I think other retailers, need to think very differently about if it’s not just about price, what else can we give to that consumer.”

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