Keep Shopping!… it’s this week’s Licensing Lookout

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes makes a whistlestop tour down his local high street to get a flavour of what’s happening licensing wise in terms of Christmas ranges.

Christmas stock and Christmas shopping have definitely arrived. I am guessing many retailers are hoping that the Christmas tills will be ringing for them this year.

I took a whistlestop tour down one of my local high streets to get a flavour of what is happening licensing wise in terms of Christmas ranges in some of the retailers.

Kinnerton's My Little Pony chocolate advent calendar was featured in a prominent position in the Card Factory.
Kinnerton's My Little Pony chocolate advent calendar was featured in a prominent position in the Card Factory.

My first port of call was a branch of Card Factory. The first thing that I spotted was a Kinnerton chocolate advent calendar front and centre at the tillpoint. It was a My Little Pony product and it was certainly in a prime position. It was interesting to see Card Factory stocking this kind of product and it was part of a wider range.

Of course, Card Factory’s core offering centres on greetings cards. It had a good range of Christmas cards in stock. Within the range there was good representation of licensed cards. Many of these had a humorous side to them.  A few highlights included Mrs Brown’s Boys, Elf and Only Fools and Horses.

This is a good reminder that there is potential in humour-based programming in licensing terms as long as there is access to good photography, catchphrases and talent.

Superdrug's gifting includes big brand names such as Lynx and Superdry.
Superdrug's gifting includes big brand names such as Lynx and Superdry.

I also popped into a branch of Superdrug. One point here is that areas like personal care, perfumes and toiletries in terms of gifting are very competitive with big brand owners making a significant splash with their powerhouse brands.

A good example was a range of Lynx deodorant gift sets from Unilever. It is hard for licensing to make an impact when ranged against brands like this. That said, licensees in the category have got very efficient at finding brands from other categories that have pulling power in the personal care category. A great example of this was a range of Superdry gift sets. These were displayed prominently in a FSDU and the range was presented as an ‘Exclusive to Superdrug’.

Other similar examples included a range featuring the Penguin clothing brand and another featuring the Umbro sportswear brand. There was also a broad selection of character licensed ranges including a Minnie Mouse range that included accessories like hairbrushes, as well as items like lip balms. The range featured distinctive repeat pattern packaging.

Superdrug was promoting this range and others at half price. I guess the licensed gift sets are good top up gifts for gift shoppers and this represents good value for consumers. I am guessing it is also a way of Superdrug driving traffic into store as consumers seek out value offers.

Other character ranges in-store included Batman, L.O.L. and Baby Shark. Licensees have also shown some creativity in their packaging and design. For example, the Star Wars range featured Death Star packaging, while for Peaky Blinders product was presented as Shelby Company Limited and Shelby Brothers product.

WH Smith had a large commitment to heritage licensing within its card offer.
WH Smith had a large commitment to heritage licensing within its card offer.

I also visited WH Smith on my high street sweep. I was encouraged to see within the card section its commitment to heritage licensing.

It had a large selection of Museums & Galleries Christmas cards, alongside British Library and V&A ranges. All featured classic Christmas art images and certainly didn’t look out of place in-store. They had a very strong visual impact.

The Cliff Richard calendar is a consistent top seller.
The Cliff Richard calendar is a consistent top seller.

It was also good to see WH Smith supporting licensed calendars and diaries. Licensed pocket diaries included an ITV Racing one and Natural History Museum. It is quite reassuring there is still a demand for pocket diaries. Within the well stocked calendar section, licensed products were a significant feature.

Again there was something reassuring seeing that the range still includes Cliff Richard and Elvis calendars. Danilo will be able to confirm or deny, but I think these two calendars are two of the longest running licensed calendars in the market. Other genres such as football were strongly featured as well.

I also picked up Robert Dyas’ Christmas flyer: Christmas Deals to Make Your Sparkle. The 16-page flyer featured a fair amount of licensed products. The flyer was also heavily focused on deep discounts and value offers. For example there was a Mercedes Benz C63 Ride On car being sold at one third off (current price £39.99 if you are interested).

Robert Dyas featured other licensed vehicles such as a Caterpillar Ride On dumper truck and a John Deere Ride On tractor. Other featured licensed lines included a children’s Dyson cord-free vacuum, a Bosch children’s toy work bench and a set of National Geographic children’s binoculars.

Jamie Oliver's Tefal cookware range was prominent in the Robert Dyas flyer.
Jamie Oliver's Tefal cookware range was prominent in the Robert Dyas flyer.

Robert Dyas seems to have recognised that well known brands are brands that consumers trust. Another brand that was featured was London Underground with a Mind the Gap roundel lightbox and a Gibsons jigsaw.

The back page of the flyer was given over to Jamie Oliver’s Tefal cookware. Selling at half price this was a strong offer for Robert Dyas. In this context the Jamie Oliver name will carry some weight. It is also interesting to note that the Jamie Oliver Tefal range launched in 2003 and this is a point included in the flyer. A further point of reassurance for consumers.

Seemingly there are some licensing bargains to be had at the moment. I think we have to be mindful how licensed properties are being used from a value and pricing point of view. I think that sometimes the long-term value in a licensed brand can be overlooked. Arguably some licensed brands will perform well without heavy discounting. That said, it is encouraging to see licensed products being part of the retail mix at the moment and featuring in a variety of retailers.

To steal and paraphrase a line from Claudia and Tess – Keep Shopping!

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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