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The beautiful game: How the licensed health & beauty sector is glowing up

Over the past few years, the health and beauty category has experienced significant growth, with a noticeable rise in the number of brands – from the character/entertainment and lifestyle categories – looking to get involved. LicensingSource.net finds out more.

“Post-pandemic, there’s a notable shift toward prioritising wellness and the demand for self-care products remains high,” Trevor Cash, director at Mad Beauty, tells LicensingSource.net, adding that 2023 was a “stand out” year for the company. “We’ve experienced substantial growth and resilience, overcoming challenges from the ongoing impact of Covid. Our export market, especially in the US, has expanded impressively, strengthening our market position. Our Lilo & Stitch range stands out as a top seller, combining enduring fun and strong appeal.”

Mad Beauty’s new offerings for 2024 range include classic Disney such as The Lion King, Snow White, a spooky twist on The Nightmare Before Christmas and a denim-inspired makeover for Stitch. It will also be paying tribute to Wizard of Oz’s 85th anniversary.

“The heightened competition in the market has driven us to elevate our design and uphold unwavering quality standards,” says Trevor. “Our goal [this year] is to further spread our message in export markets, while strengthening our domestic base.”

For H&A, 2023 saw incremental sales arising from seasonal, festive classics alongside new launches tied to cinema releases. The Grinch and Frozen hit the spot with Christmas shoppers, while The Little Mermaid and The Super Mario Bros. Movie were key franchise moments.

This year will see the licensee launch new lines for Disney’s Wish, Unicorn Academy, SpongeBob SquarePants, Nerf and Mr Men Little Miss among others.

H&A“The health and beauty category is an exciting space, with retailers always keen to try something new to keep shoppers engaged,” says Livy Coare, licensing and marketing manager at H&A. “It’s been fantastic to see the growth of the category in preschool this past year, with our launch of Bluey, Peppa Pig and PAW Patrol gift ranges.”

Kokomo’s sales and marketing director, Laura Jealous, says the company’s biggest success in 2023 was its Barbie products. “For us, Barbie was already going from strength to strength, but the movie propelled it into another dimension, and we were lucky to be a part of that moment,” she says. Among other new launches, 2024 will see Kokomo entering into the baby category with a carefully curated range that’s suitable from newborn+, paediatrician approved, suitable for sensitive skin, dermatologically tested and manufactured in the UK.

Laura continues: “The role of licensing and H&B remains challenging in some mass retailers as different categories fight for space, and we have seen a shift from everyday into more event buys to support launches of films or seasonal buys for Christmas for example. However, in retailers with less restrictions in space we have continued to see strong growth in everyday lines.”

Like most categories, innovation is key. “We try to lead with innovative designs bespoke to each of our licences, while driving innovation and connection between the licence and consumer,” says Laura. “Consumers want new, but they also need the products they know and trust.”

MadBeautyLivy, meanwhile, says that H&A’s creative team is constantly working on new and exciting product formats across both single lines and gift sets. Mad Beauty’s Trevor also believes that innovation is “paramount”, especially when it comes to packaging. “In a dynamic market, staying at the forefront of innovative packaging solutions not only enhances product appeal, but also reflects a dedication to meeting and exceeding customer expectations for quality and performance,” he says.

When it comes to sustainability, H&A’s Livy highlights the company’s plastic-free packaging gift ranges and how it has been able to maintain shelf presence, value for money and product theatricality without compromising on its pledge. The challenges, as Kokomo’s Laura highlights, are trying to find the right solution that doesn’t impact costs too much, protecting the product and to find suitable options that then don’t make it harder for consumers to recycle at home or make an item less shoppable at fixture.

Laura, Livy and Trevor all agree that there is further growth ahead for the licensed health and beauty category, underlining that the potential certainly isn’t just skin deep.

FloralStreetSmell of success

Sustainable British brand, Floral Street has enjoyed award winning success with its Van Gogh Museum collaboration. Vegan perfume Sunflower Pop – which won a B&LLA for Best Brand Licensed Health & Beauty Product or Range in 2022 – is the company’s second bestselling fragrance internationally. This was followed up with a Sweet Almond Blossom home range, which drove demand for the perfume – launched in 2023, it is Floral Street’s fastest selling fragrance to date.

The company also collaborated with the RHS at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2019, launching the Electric Rhubarb fragrance.

“Partnerships are really important if you are a small brand as they can give you a bigger voice globally,” explains Michelle Feeney, founder of Floral Street. “Being part of a collective enables you to reach and connect with a larger customer base to drive greater awareness and desirability for your brand. Authentic collaborations communicated through an omni-channel strategy can create true multi-dimensional sensory experiences and these connections enable new ways for both parties to tell their brand and company stories.

“When reviewing licence opportunities, it’s important the potential partner shares our ethos and principles and a similar democratic spirit, accessibility and cross generational appeal to make it the perfect collaboration and commercial offering.”

This feature originally appeared in the spring 2024 edition of Licensing Source Book. To read the full publication, click on this link.

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