This ad will be closed automatically in X seconds.

Putting in the Works… it’s this week’s Licensing Lookout

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes takes a look at how The Works is using licensing to play to its strengths this week.

I think it is always worth taking a look at different retailers, visiting a store and seeing what they are doing licensing wise.

My sense is that things can change rapidly in retail at the moment and it is sensible to challenge your own preconceptions. Getting on the shop floor can reveal a lot about a retailer and, of course, provide a contemporary snapshot of their product offering. Retailers seem to be moving more rapidly in terms of shop inventory (notwithstanding any supply issues) and looking to be ‘on trend’. I think they are really looking at what is selling and what new products they should be adding to the mix.

At the moment many retailers have introduced their Christmas ranges and are focusing their attention on the gift giving season. This is clearly a challenging and competitive time to be a retailer.

With factfinding in mind I visited a local branch of The Works. The Works has been trading for 40 years or so I believe and has over 500 branches. It was a retailer that was reported to have done well during lockdown with its mix of books, puzzles, arts and crafts being popular categories during that period but, of course, now it faces the challenges all retailers do trading in a post-lockdown economy and specifically within the competitive Christmas trading period.

I imagine it is hard for retailers to stand out from the crowd in the competition to get a share of consumer spending. I think it would be fair to say that The Works is a retailer that knows what it is about and is very focused on delivering value to consumers, but also offering a good selection of products. Some might say the shelves and tables are too full in The Works, but I suspect that this approach to display and stock is one of the things consumers like. The shop I visited in Godalming was well stocked, had good displays and really shouted out value. Pleasingly from a licensing point of view, licensing was part of the product mix.

A range of board games inspired by classic TV game shows was a key fixture in The Works.
A range of board games inspired by classic TV game shows was a key fixture in The Works.

The Works supports board games and puzzles. This seems like a strong category for it. Licensed products that I noticed included a range of games presented in tins maybe with gifting in mind, but certainly with the Christmas game playing season in mind.

Licensee Igloo Books has tapped into a number of well-known classic TV game shows to create this range with Wheel of Fortune, Play Your Cards Right and Blankety Blank featuring. All of these will be well-known by consumers, have a high recognition value and are, of course, perfect for family gaming.

Alongside these products there were a couple of boxed board games that stood out, one being a Dad’s Army board game and the other an Only Fools and Horses board game. Both classic TV shows that are still on air and both brands that would appeal across different generations of a family, but would also work as gifts. These were selling at £15 which as the label on the box says represents ‘great value’.

From a consumer point of view these kind of products make good top up presents particularly at that kind of price point. As noted already, value is a core part of what makes The Works ‘work’.

The Works blended back catalogue book titles with new releases such as Fast Flavours from Nadiya Hussain.
The Works blended back catalogue book titles with new releases such as Fast Flavours from Nadiya Hussain.

It buys into categories like jigsaws in depth and the category extends into items like simple wooden puzzles and floor puzzles for children. Brands such as Peppa Pig and PAW Patrol feature in this category.

It also seems The Works is happy to develop its own products focusing on subjects like landscapes and seaside scenes. Puzzles and puzzling are certainly a strong category for The Works. This is also reflected in the book offer with items like branded crossword books.

A licensed brand like Hey Duggee reassures consumers and catches their attention.
A licensed brand like Hey Duggee reassures consumers and catches their attention.

Of course, books are a core part of The Works offer and it seems to have successfully blended new releases with back catalogue titles and specially created book products.

For example, it was selling the new Nadiya Hussain book, Fast Flavours, which was released this week – it was priced at £12 which is a competitive price. I am guessing The Works has realised well promoted new book releases are good lines for it to stock and give consumers a reason to return to a store to check out new releases, especially if they know they will be keenly priced.

Licensed titles in stock ranged from Disney quiz books through to Harry Potter mindful colouring books. Arts, crafts, colouring and mindful colouring are big categories for it. There was a whole section dedicated to mindful colouring for example.

On the crafting side, the offer included brands like Airfix with starter kits featuring RAF planes such as a Hunting Percival Jet Provost. This sort of product would tick lots of boxes for gift purchasers and, of course, a brand like Airfix instils confidence among consumers. Unsurprisingly The Works stocks annuals at this time of year; annuals are great gift products and The Works was offering annuals at 2 for £8. Titles included football related ones such as Manchester United and Liverpool.

It also carries a lot of learning and educational books featuring characters such as a Hey Duggee ABC and numbers range. I imagine these sort of titles work all year round and are the sort of books that are bought as a gift or treat for children. Again, rather like Airfix in this context a licensed brand like Hey Duggee reassures consumers and catches their attention.

The Only Fools and Horses board game would appeal across different generations of a family.
The Only Fools and Horses board game would appeal across different generations of a family.

It was also interesting to see The Works going big on children’s fiction particularly focusing on box sets. Box sets of books are strong gift items and The Works was promoting this sort of product at ‘up to 75% of recommended retail price’. A very compelling offer and also a fixture that consumers will browse as it represents great value, but also features some very recognisable characters and authors.

As noted earlier, arts and crafts are a key part of The Works offer. This includes art accessories and materials for amateur artists, but also extends into kids crafting. There was a feature area for children’s property CoComelon that centred on items such as Artist Pads, while other crafting items on sale included Paint Your Own Money Boxes featuring Marvel characters. Again, these are good gift items but also work all year round as treat products, pocket money purchases or store items for rainy days.

The Works makes the most of its in-store space with things like clip strips for plush.
The Works makes the most of its in-store space with things like clip strips for plush.

The Works also taps into other categories such as plush. It had a range of Peppa Pig and PAW Patrol product on sale. The Works certainly makes the most of the space available to it with products filling all corners and using clip strip style displays. My hunch is that consumers enjoy exploring the shop and like the product mix. The shop I visited was well put together with clear displays and it was easy to shop. I made some gift purchases for family members so hopefully they won’t be reading this. No one likes to spoil a surprise!

I also visited Poundland this week and not unexpectedly it has got a lot of Christmas products in-store. A couple of noteworthy highlights were the seasonal confectionery and chocolate offers. It had a big range of Elf on the Shelf products which included chocolate figurines, coins and candyfloss. The range was positioned at the front of the store and had a prominent position.

It was also carrying a number of chocolate advent calendars including Father Christmas, Peppa Pig, PAW Patrol and Friends. Friends seems to have become established as a strong player in seasonal gifting. As well as featuring in Poundland, I noticed Friends was featured in Wilko with items such as notebook and pen sets plus lip balms.

The Elf on the Shelf brand was out in force in Poundland.
The Elf on the Shelf brand was out in force in Poundland.

From the visits I made to The Works, Wilko and Poundland it is reassuring to see that licensing is part of the retail mix for these retailers, but it is also clear that this will be a fiercely competitive Christmas for retailers.

Hopefully I will see a few of you next week at BLE. It is great that this particular show is back on the road. Hopefully it will be a success for Informa and the industry as a whole. I know a lot of people are looking forward to it and for the opportunity to get chatting again. We are at stand D164. Feel free to let me know what you have seen on your shopping trips!

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.

MORE NEWS
Silc500x500
 
With the Sustainability in Licensing Conference now just four weeks away, we're honouring the United Nations' 17 SDGs with 17 things you won't want to miss at this year's event....
Ella500x500
 
Landmark collaboration will see the leading baby food brand create a Very Hungry Caterpillar range of baby and toddler snacks....
Tesco500x500
 
A number of familiar licensed names are featuring in Tesco's latest up to half price toy sale, which begins on Monday 3 October....
AshHol500x500
 
ToyTopic's Ashley Holman on why offering value for money on ranges is now crucial....
Rubieslogo500x500
 
Peter joins the licensee from Mattel where he was senior national account manager....
Jiggy500x500
 
FIFA has chosen Dream Theatre to manage the merchandise programme for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in India and South Asia....
Get the latest news sent to your inbox
Subscribe to our daily newsletter

The list doesn't exist! Make sure you have imported the list on the 'Manage List Forms' page.