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The Licensing Lookout: From show to shelf

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes sees a Spring Fair hit transfer to retail shelves this week.

The Licensing Lookout came full circle this week. Something I spotted and reported about from Spring Fair caught my eye in retail this week.

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Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach was arguably the star of Spring Fair causing much excitement in some of the licensing ranks by making a very successful appearance at the trade event to help launch his housewares, storage and kitchen accessories range.

I saw the range in Ely’s department store in Wimbledon this week. No sign of Joe in person but plenty of photography of him. Timed to coincide with the store’s 10% off for students promotion, the Joe Wicks range fits well into the student market. It is colourful and contemporary with an emphasis on lifestyle.

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It is good to see a range make it from trade show to retail shelf. It is not an easy journey. The licensee has really embraced the brand and is making the most of Joe Wicks’ profile.

It seemed like a big range which I am guessing not all retailers will be able to carry and parts of it were essentials like food storage items so it will be challenged price wise, but from a presentation point of view it is a range that should garner attention. It is also a test case for personality driven licensing.

This is a category of licensing that is maybe underused in the UK. Will be good to see if The Body Coach inspires some other ranges.

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Ely’s was also stocking a range of Wimbledon-themed products supporting its local area. One of which was a London Underground Wimbledon cushion featuring the iconic roundel. While it is tough to deliver products like this at such a hyper local level, it was a good example of getting the most from a brand and also taking a focused approach to distribution.

I am guessing the licensee We Love Cushions can produce to order in small numbers with a print on demand style model. This would allow it to maximise the reach of the licence and is a good demonstration of the fact that licensees have to adapt their model sometimes to maximise the benefits of a particular licence. It isn’t one stop shopping these days.

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I am always impressed by fresh thinking and products that make you stop and look. Iron Maiden’s Trooper beer by Robinson’s falls into this category. I saw it on sale in a Manchester supermarket. A clever piece of NPD in a competitive category that seems to be working. Licensing associated with music artists and bands seems to becoming more common and is a growing category.

I am guessing with the rise of super gigs and ongoing popularity of festivals more bands have the potential to become brands.

As a Smiths fan I am always on the lookout for the Meat is Murder veggie burger. I think there is an opportunity there for a Free From range, although Morrissey may not be the ideal brand ambassador these days.

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It is also good to see how licensing is being embraced by different types of retailers. For licensing to continue to flourish it has to grow in new and diverse retail channels.

With this in mind it was good to see how much space GAME gave licensed products most notably with a wall of t-shirts. It was very impressive. The licences carried included gaming brands and pop culture characters. It was a strong offer. It also had space for giftware and accessories.

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Likewise, specialist gift retailer Menkind is backing licensing and in its case making good use of display to sell licensed products. There was an end cap display for Fizz Creations’ Slush Puppie maker. A fantastic licensed product that has benefitted from well thought through and proactive distribution. It seems to be in all the right places.

Menkind is an on trend retailer that is aware of new products. It obviously taps into licensee suppliers and monitor new opportunities with the ability to respond quickly to opportunities.

For example, it had a FSDU of licensed doormats at its store entrance (interestingly no doormat was available to wipe your feet on as you went in though). This is a relatively new category but Menkind is giving it the best shot it can and by placing it at the front of a store in a busy shopping centre it is making sure as wide a consumer audience sees it. It is the sort of product that should inspire impulse purchase.

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It is encouraging to see retailers like Menkind and GAME using licensing with such vigour and as a core part of their offering. I hope it is working for all parties.

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It is also good to see licensees and retailers working together to promote licensed products in-store. Publisher Centum and WH Smith have combined well to promote a range of movie tie in books for the Disney Christopher Robin book.

Sometimes licensed products can arrive without much fanfare. It is good to see a film related range being given an extra push in retail.

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Finally, I was reminded how old I am and how long I have worked in licensing for this week by a stuffed bear. Never work with children or stuffed animals. Build a Bear is promoting a Green Ranger Bear to mark 25 years of Power Rangers.

I can’t believe it was nearly 25 years ago that I first donned that lycra suit…

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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