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Price match masters… it’s this week’s Licensing Lookout

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes is back in-store this week, spying some noteworthy Mother’s Day and Easter activity.

As previously reported, my big retail focus at the moment is shopping for my 80 year old mum. I have a regular list of items to buy for her and have my shopping route worked out in advance. It is a Jamie Oliver ‘bish, bash, bosh’ approach to shopping.

However, this week I managed to get a bit of dwell time in the Sainsbury’s at Godalming so could do a little bit of old school Looking Out. This branch of Sainsbury’s is a pretty big one and includes categories such as toys, apparel and homewares.

Sainsbury's is promoting its Price Match scheme matching Aldi's prices.
Sainsbury's is promoting its Price Match scheme matching Aldi's prices.

One thing I noticed straightaway and it is something I have seen from other retailers was what appears to me to be an increased focus on price and value by Sainsbury’s, particularly in relation to its competitors.

At Sainsbury’s it was promoting a Price Match scheme matching Aldi’s prices. Aldi and Lidl have shaken up supermarket shopping and it seems that Sainsbury’s has decided to go onto the front foot to compete head on with them in terms of prices. I am guessing consumers are becoming more cost conscious as well due to current circumstances and are actively seeking out value. In this context of price matching and seeking value, I think licensing will become more in demand by retailers as licensed products and ranges can help insulate them against discounting – but perhaps more tellingly, popular licences can achieve stand out at retail and create additional reasons for consumers to purchase. In a price driven battle, licensing offers a point of difference.

Of course, apparel is an area that frequently features licensing and licensed products. In general terms it has been good to see how licensed apparel companies have cemented their position in supermarkets and have also shown a progressive approach to design. Also connected to this is the move towards a broader base of products. Licensed apparel ranges are no longer just focused on t-shirts.

The England Rugby baby and toddlerwear range was prominently displayed.
The England Rugby baby and toddlerwear range was prominently displayed.

The first thing that caught my eye was a range of England Rugby baby and toddlerwear. This range was prominently displayed in dedicated space. This in itself is a great example of progress in supermarket selling of apparel – the product was really well presented and easy for consumers to see it. The range is also a good example of how different types of licensing are coming to the fore, with sports now part of the mainstream. There was a lot to see in the children’s and babywear departments – less so in the adult category.

Highlights in the childrenswear area included Nerf – a further example of how different types of brands are being embraced by retailers. Design wise, as noted earlier, it is great to see the creativity and imagination being applied to licensed apparel.

A great example of this was the range of Paddington apparel on sale – the base garments were very good quality and featured contemporary styles like a hoodie style fleece jacket. Design wise there was good use of pastel colours and repeat patterns. Likewise with The Gruffalo and it was also good to see how broader ranges are being built with accessories such as bibs, slippers and headwear being added to core ranges to create collections.

The Paddington range featured contemporary styles like a hoodie style fleece jacket.
The Paddington range featured contemporary styles like a hoodie style fleece jacket.

In terms of other licences and categories brands such as Minecraft and PlayStation featured, while classic Disney properties such as Toy Story were also on sale. There was definitely a strong presence for licensing in this category and it is easy to conclude that licensing is playing a significant role in Sainsbury’s children’s apparel offer.

As noted I didn’t see so much in the adult category and in fact only spotted one licensed t-shirt on this visit which was a VW Camper t-shirt. Maybe I missed more on this visit, but it will be interesting to see if more licensed designs for adults feature soon perhaps in summer ranges.

A Minnie Mouse design has been created specifically for Mother's Day.
A Minnie Mouse design has been created specifically for Mother's Day.

One interesting feature were specific designs created for Mother’s Day. I spotted a Minnie Mouse design with the caption ‘Me & Mummy = Besties’ and a Peppa Pig design featuring Mummy Pig with a ‘Best Mum Ever’ caption. These are good examples of licensees and licensors providing design assets to suit specific occasions, plus a sign that licensors are being more flexible design wise.

There was also a dedicated space for Easter Eggs and confectionery in-store. At first glance I thought this was a licensing free zone and assumed that this was because of the growing strength of established confectionery brands which have developed their own Easter ranges. However, on closer inspection there was some cause for encouragement from a licensing point of view.

Cadbury's range includes a Peter Rabbit egg complete with a plush toy.
Cadbury's range includes a Peter Rabbit egg complete with a plush toy.

Long-term licensee Kinnerton featured in the fixture with Barbie and PAW Patrol Easter Eggs. Cadbury’s range includes a Peter Rabbit egg which includes a charming Peter Rabbit plush toys. There are different designs which I think works well gifting wise and encourages multiple purchases.

It is interesting to see big brands using licensing in this context. A further example of this was Kinder which has Marvel and Disney Princess products in its range. These include ‘free toys’ and the range is further supported in-store with a display unit that shows off the collectable toys.

One Easter Egg that I thought was particularly noteworthy was Kinnerton’s Crayola egg. The egg was presented as a Decorate Your Own Egg product including two decorating icing tubes. The egg was presented in a bespoke pack that was shaped like a Crayola crayon. It stood out well on shelf and used a well trusted brand well. It is a clever way of tapping into a well known arts and craft brand bringing something fresh to the category. I suspect this ‘activity’ egg will appeal to adults as a gift because it has an in-built activity.

Kinnerton's Crayola egg stood out well on shelf and made good use of a trusted brand.
Kinnerton's Crayola egg stood out well on shelf and made good use of a trusted brand.

It was good to be back Looking Out in a shop, but I tried to take a bish bash bosh approach to looking out as well so apologies if I missed anything on this visit.

I can confirm that I achieved 100% compliance in regards to my mum’s shopping list and she was a happy customer. She still hasn’t tipped me though!

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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