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“Digital creators will be influencing retail for years to come”

LicensingSource chats to Ian Shepherd, founder of The Social Store and co-founder of Electrify Video Partners, to learn more about creators in 2022.

“In the last couple of years we’ve seen huge consumer products brands emerge from digital creators including Ryan’s World, Blippi, Cocomelon and Hearts By Tiana,” begins Ian Shepherd, founder of The Social Store and co-founder of Electrify Video Partners. “In December 2021, The Social Store launched a new fashion range in Asda with global gaming icon Ali A”.

With more than 17 million subscribers, Ali A one of the biggest British celebrities on YouTube.

“We know that boys and girls love Ali A and will be excited to see that they can buy his latest ‘merch’ at Asda. The team at George were the first to get behind our initial creator launch with Tiana in 2019 and we’re excited to be working with them again.”

The Hearts By Tiana brand has since featured daywear, nightwear, footwear, bag, shoes, toys and accessories from many of the UK’s top licensees including Fashion UK, Aykroyds, William Lamb and Character World.

Ian continues: “Looking forward to 2022 I’m expecting to see lots more product brands powered by creators. People have turned to social media more than ever during the pandemic and creators are leveraging their increased fame and audience to expand into consumer products.

“I would encourage retailers to think about the leading creators producing content for their target shopper. And for licensees it’s about finding the creators that authentically align to their core products.

“Unlike traditional licensed franchises that typically come with style guides and brand books, working with a creator is often far less structured. However the relative simplicity of brand and immediacy of social media means that licensees and retailers have far more creative scope and the timelines can be much shorter too. Working with a creator can also come with far more marketing firepower; by way of example Tiana filmed a number of fun videos in store for the launch of Hearts By Tiana at Asda.”

However social media can be a bit of a double edged sword, Ian points out. “While it’s easy to contact creators about an opportunity, they are approached by so many companies (and fans) and it can be hard to cut through the noise. We see our role as bridging the gap between creators and the licensees and retailers to deliver great partnerships.

“We are just at the start of the broader ‘creator economy’. Aside from gaining even more popularity, I expect creators to become founders of their own businesses, building teams to scale their brand and drive revenues. In 2021, I co-founded Electrify Video Partners specifically to invest into creators and support and accelerate this growth.”

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