Longevity in licensing

KI’s Matthew Macaulay explores how licensed products which are part of a special moment, can stand the test of time and drive brand salience.

A lovely festive collab

One of my colleagues brought in a little McDonalds Happy Meal toy to the office recently. It was a small Paddington Bear Christmas tree decoration, and was actually quite lovely. Okay, so maybe the quality wasn’t Liberty-standard, but it was a nice design and I’d have gladly hung it on my Christmas tree.

What I liked most about it, was that it didn’t feel disposable. It seemed likely that a family would keep the object and potentially get it out each Christmas, hanging it pride of place on their tree.

Meaningful licensing making memories

Longevity isn’t something often associated with the licensing industry – too often characterised by throwaway objects which clutter up the home and quickly make their way into landfill. This is something Gary Pope, our co-founder, is seeking to address in his role as Products of Change Children’s Ambassador.

We’ve carried out a number of research projects in which we’ve tried to unpick what differentiates more meaningful licensed products – those that stand the test of time from the objects which are easily discarded. One of the interesting themes that has emerged from this work is that branded products which are part of a special moment or memory, are often cherished and stick around.

So while the little Paddington decoration may seem understated, it’s actually very clever. It’s a way of ensuring Paddington and McDonalds play a small part in a special family occasion – Christmas – and elevates this partnership as a result. The positive effect that being connected to this family event has on brand affinity and salience may be difficult to quantify, but it is nonetheless powerful.

Licensed products that stand the test of time

The little Paddington decoration got me thinking about other licensed products which make their way into the home and are kept for a long time. When I asked some of my colleagues to give examples they recalled from their own homes, they mentioned Coco Pops spoon toppers, Kelloggs bike reflectors, Coca-Cola and Planet Hollywood glasses and Andrex Puppy soft toys. These were objects they all recalled from their childhoods; ones lodged in their memories and still in their homes.

Building mental availability by being in the home

In my job as a strategist I spend a lot of time thinking of ways brands can build what Bryon Sharp (the marketing professor), refers to as ‘mental availability’. This is the likelihood or ease with which a brand or product comes to mind when a consumer is making a purchasing decision. We spend a lot of time speaking to clients about oversaturated digital channels, but I think there is merit in talking about the power of branded objects in the home.

In my opinion, brands which spend time thinking of developing the right type of licensed products which make their way into the home – ones which connect with a significant moment or have genuine utility – will greatly enhance their mental availability. The residual impact of being part of key family moments, such as Christmas, may well mean a brand manages to occupy a privileged position in the hearts and minds of the consumer.

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