FMCG success, charity moves and ‘Christmaswatch’… it’s this week’s Licensing Lookout

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes notes how FMCG brands are making the most of clever collaborations, as well as the promotional partnerships around BBC Children in Need.

I have to thank Licensing Source for a shopping success this week.

LicensingSource.net drew my attention to a licensed product last week which I added to my weekend shopping list. I bought a packet of the Nairn’s Marmite and Cheese oatcakes. As a fan and consumer of both brands this was a licensing deal I felt I had to support and taste.

I am pleased to report that this partnership has worked really well and the product tastes great. It is a really good example of how brands in FMCG are having success by collaborating and making the most of distinct flavours like Marmite.

NairnsMarmite500x500I think the FMCG sector is much more licensing savvy these days.

Companies seem to be open to using licensing as a way of reaching new consumers, extending distribution and shifting perceptions around their own brand.

But these sort of deals need to be nurtured and require a patient approach. I think it is also worth noting that FMCG brands will take a different approach to licence acquisition to many other licensees and as such brand owners may need to approach these conversations in a fresh way.

I am pleased Nairn’s and Marmite had that first chat though.

LL3There has also been a lot of talk around garden centres and how they are providing new distribution opportunities for licensed products. My visits to garden centres certainly confirm this and it is encouraging to see licensing thriving in the category.

Garden centre group Blue Diamond has really embraced the opportunity that licensing presents. I noticed in one of its branches this week that it has launched an exclusive product range with the National Trust that includes the likes of bulbs, seedballs and seeds. Within the seed range it has thought about the gifting aspect of gardening with products such as a National Trust Seed Journal. A neat way of recording what you have planted through the year. The product range sits under a core message of ‘Working Together For The Love of Nature’. It has been allocated a good amount of space at the front of store and is well merchandised. There is a good use of display and features like FSDUs. There is a nice colour scheme used for the packaging and the sales materials. The range delves into the National Trust’s history and heritage featuring noteworthy personalities in the Trust’s history like Octavia Hill on packaging. She was the co-founder of the National Trust. It is an effective way of celebrating the National Trust’s heritage and the ethos behind the organisation.

LL2Licensed ranges like this one help the brand owner tell a story but are, of course, revenue generators as well. For this range the National Trust will receive 10% of the retail selling price of each item. Given the space dedicated to the range it should be a good revenue earner for the Trust. I did my bit for licensing here as well as I bought some ‘National Trust Joy’ daffodil bulbs and look forward to seeing how they look in the spring.

This week sees the annual BBC Children in Need programme and over the years this has been an event that has sparked a number of product and promotional partnerships. I noticed that Greggs is involved in Children in Need this year (I think it is a long-term partner). Greggs is selling some Children in Need Pudsey merchandise including Pudsey ears and pin badges. I decided not to buy any ears as I didn’t think they would suit me! But the merchandise was given a prominent place on the counter top making Greggs’ support of Children in Need very visible.

LL4What I especially liked was how Greggs had embraced the opportunity further to develop bakery products – it has created a Pudsey biscuit and novelty buns. I thought this showed really good creativity and a willingness to integrate the campaign into Greggs’ core product offering.

It was also a good reminder of how brands and characters have the potential to play a role in a variety of retailers and product categories.

LL1As noted over the last few weeks Christmas has arrived at retail. I am on ‘Christmaswatch’ at the moment. One of the best seasonal ranges I have seen so far is chocolatier Charbonnel et Walker’s Peter Rabbit range. I spotted the range in the Canary Wharf branch and what struck me was how well packaged the range was from a design perspective. Items such as the Peter Rabbit advent calendar make wonderful use of classic illustrations while the range also features composite gifts combining chocolates with Peter Rabbit plush.

Charbonnel et Walker is also a retailer that recognises the value of good display. It has put a lot of effort into the window displays, in-store displays and product packaging. It has chosen a classic brand that fits with its ethos and outlook. Hopefully this translates well into sales, as visually it is a really good example of a licensing partnership that has allowed a retailer to create a point of difference in a busy retail period.

For the record, I didn’t buy any chocolate but I was very tempted… maybe next time!

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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