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How innovation is driving Chupa Chups licensing

The Source chats to Perfetti Van Melle’s Christine Cool and Marta Ballesteros.

How to keep innovating with food and beverage brands was the theme of a panel discussion at Brand Licensing Europe earlier this month, with two licensing managers from Perfetti Van Melle, Christine Cool and Marta Ballesteros, revealing how the company is continuing to stay on top of its game on a global stage.

Highlighting the eight main brands out of a portfolio of 20 – Chupa Chups, Mentos, Airheads, Frisk, Smint, Brooklyn and Big Babol – Christine (pictured above (left) with Marta) confirmed that there were now over 400 licensees, with over 1,000 new licensed consumer products launched each year, with each of the brands having a strong brand identity and profile.

Interestingly, Perfetti Van Melle’s licensing division was launched in Barcelona in 1998 with only a few local licensees.

“20 years ago, when we were still small, we were pioneers to be launching a lifestyle licensing programme in Europe. Today, it’s this initiative that has proved to be a sustainable business model,” confirms Christine.

“However, like all pioneers, we have needed to face various challenges. For example we have had to make the most of a small team and limited resources,” she continues, “and have looked for licensees that can help us to build our brands. In Europe, we also faced the challenge that candy brands were a newcomer to the licensing arena and often confusing in terms of promotional activity. We also realised that we needed to add innovation to create a style of our own for the licensing market. We needed to create a new brand identity, a style of our own.”

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Focusing on Chupa Chups which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year – a brand that remains versatile, with a playful attitude and a cutting edge – she reveals that the iconic flowered shaped logo was designed by Salvador Dali in 1968.

“With our strong connection to art we subsequently turned to designers and artists all over the world for original designs inspired by the essence of the brand and the vibe of the moment. This was the beginning of the re-interpretation of the Chupa Chups brand, and it’s our design portfolio that sets us apart. It has been the backbone of our success, allowing us to build a sustainable licensing programme across Europe and Asia, as well as into the Americas and Australia, bringing novelty and excitement. It allows consumers to experience the brand in other ways, and to make it part of their world.”

In addition to having a strong fashion focus, the brand also lends itself to health and beauty. “We work with innovative licensing partners, and are proud to be part of the growing licensing industry,” states Christine. “Brand collaboration means that Chupa Chups creates a great opportunity to stand out, but we know that as a corporate, we constantly need to innovate.”

Staying with brand innovation, Marta highlighted how important innovation is to the company’s licensing programme. “Innovation means having the ‘wow’ effect, with innovation equalling surprise for our consumers. We re-invent ourselves every day, challenging what we do. When we come to Brand Licensing Europe for example, we like to surprise our visitors too, and this year, there are many interpretations of the Chupa Chups brand.”

As Marta points out “licensing has become the tool that creates a halo effect for all our brands, keeping them on trend and contemporary. It helps us to be innovative and to offer our consumers something fresh. We are always innovating across our confectionery portfolio in terms of what we can do, with licensing strengthening our brand activity around the world. It helps us to position the brands and create opportunities for cross-promotion with candy, and we are continuing to expand into the food and beverage licensing market place with our partners.”

Across the Perfetti Van Melle portfolio, food and beverage has been a major expansion, representing almost 20% of the company’s overall licensing business. Further expansion plans are in the pipeline, to include frozen products, desserts, bakery and drinks.

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