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Embracing impactful design… it’s this week’s Licensing Lookout

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes explores how some retailers are really embracing things from a display point of view, making the most of the Christmas opportunity with bespoke displays.

As noted in recent weeks, Christmas has well and truly arrived at retail. It is great to see how some retailers really embrace things from a display point of view, making the most of the opportunity with bespoke displays.

Daunt Books in Marylebone High Street is a great example of this. It is always a pleasure to visit Daunt Books and savour its unique setting. It is a star shop in a shopping street that has a lot of top quality shops and a diverse mix of retailers from The Conran Shop to an Oxfam shop (which has some wonderful secondhand books and records).

Daunt Books is a traditional book shop that has become a destination store, not least because of its beautiful interior. The shop has enhanced this by decorating for Christmas in an eye-catching way. It has also stocked up for Christmas with plenty of books and other products that have been bought in to tap into the seasonal opportunity. It is good to see a retailer being so proactive and recognising the potential to sell at this time of year.

LL6It was good to see licensing and licensed brands well represented within the shop. There were several really good displays of calendars featuring licensed titles and licensees such as Flame Tree Publishing.

Calendars are definitely a category that Daunt supports.

LL5Bookwise it was interesting to see how publishers have developed specific titles for Christmas. There were a number of examples of this in the children’s book department: Mr Christmas from Mr Men, Pooh’s Christmas Adventure and Paddington’s Christmas Post.

It was also interesting to see brands like Royal Botanic Gardens Kew making an impression in the Christmas market with bespoke product – in its case it has a Christmas Pop Up Advent Calendar and the Kew Gardens Christmas Book. Other brands such as the National Trust also dial up their offering at this time of year, tapping up gift givers with products like the National Trust Gardener’s Almanac.

The British Museum also had a presence with a Puzzle Book. Puzzle books and quiz books are popular at this time of the year; brands such as the British Museum with content and authenticity have recognised this.

LL3Another genre of publishing that is well represented in Daunt Books at the moment and no doubt other book shops are cookbooks. Many of these are driven by TV shows or celebrity authors. A couple of good examples are Nadiya Hussain’s Simple Spices book and Tom Kerridge’s Pub Kitchen book. Nadiya’s book is a TV tie-in book following on from her recent BBC2 series of the same name.

Daunt also supports categories like greeting cards and within this category it was good to see Hype Cards representing licensing with a mini FSDU for its mini cards which features brands like The Beano, Dr Seuss and Peter Rabbit – a common link here is that all three are publishing based properties.

If you haven’t been there yet I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Daunt Books. It is a great example of a specialist retailer working hard to deliver a good shopping experience for consumers and succeeding.

LL4While in Marylebone High Street I also popped in The Conran Shop. As you might expect, it is a stylish shop which uses its space well. It was also a very welcoming shop. A small thing, but I think shop staff who welcome you to their store with a nice hello and a smile can really make a difference. I spotted one example of licensing in The Conran Shop (there may have been more of course). I noticed it had a range of cushions from Jules Pansu featuring artwork from Picasso. It was a great collection, but also a collection that was well displayed – the cushions were merchandised against a sympathetic colour scheme which really helped the designs stand out. It was a great example of art licensing and using iconic artwork effectively coupled with an alertness to effective display. 

To prove retail variety is the spice of shopping life, my next shop stop for me this week was at Pets At Home. Have whippet must shop. The pet category is one that has a history of licensing in it particularly around areas like pet toys, pet clothing and giftware. Against this backdrop it was no surprise to see some licensing activity in Pets At Home. Billed as ‘new in’ and at the front of store was a FSDU filled with dog toys based on Hasbro IP including the likes of Hungry Hippos, Play-Doh and Mr Potato Head. It is an enterprising use of play-related IP and adds fun to a category that can be price driven. The FSDU was bright and colourful with great impact in-store. I can imagine it will work well for impulse purchase and for consumers on the hunt for Christmas gifts for pets. The range was originally developed in the US I believe and shows how products can travel these days especially when they feature global brands.

LL2Outside of the direct world of licensing, I noticed two advertising campaigns this week which I thought were noteworthy. 

Firstly toy and model company Hornby advertising its Santa’s Express train set on a train. Good to see toy companies exploring new ways of reaching consumers and running a campaign on a train to encourage consumers to buy a train set has a certain synchronicity to it. I am sure more toy and consumer products companies are reviewing their advertising strategies these days and working hard at finding ways of engaging with consumers.

The Hornby advertisement also included a QR code and a discount code maximising its effectiveness.

LL1The other advertising campaign that caught my attention was from the Royal Mail. It was in a national newspaper and was designed to encourage people to send Christmas cards this year rather than just rely on ‘socials’. It also made the point that sending a card was ‘special’. Good to see the Royal Mail championing card sending in this way.

Based on my visit to Daunt Books and other recent retail visits, there are a lot of charming licensed Christmas cards available at the moment – let’s do our bit this year to keep things special and send a few licensed Christmas cards! 

Ian Downes runs Start Licensing, an independent brand licensing agency. His Twitter handle is @startlicensing – he would welcome your suggestions for what to look out for.

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