Start Licensing’s Ian Downes looks at how retailers are using licensed brands within their World Book Day initiatives this week.
Licensing seems to be getting better at spotting opportunities to become involved in and create commercial opportunities from them.
A good example of this is World Book Day (Thursday 3 March). This is an event that naturally galvanises publishers into action but it has also seen dress-up companies fully embrace it, while other licensees seem to use it as a focal point for promotions.
I noticed that Sainsbury’s had a broad range of book related dress-up kits. Children are encouraged to go to school on World Book Day dressed as book characters. Many people fashion their own costumes but for some a ready made off the shelf costume is a convenient solution. This has created a significant opportunity for dress-up companies and retailers.
The Sainsbury’s range I saw included Where’s Wally?, Dennis the Menace, Elmer and Harry Potter. The products were dual sited in the apparel department and also adjacent to the toy area. The product was well displayed and signposted. It is clearly a significant moment for retail.
Of course World Book Day is also a welcome boost for publishers and bookshops. I suspect for independent bookshops it is a really useful way to encourage consumers into store and engaging with their local communities. My local bookshop in Haslemere – the Haslemere Bookshop – had a World Book Day window display featuring all the £1 books that are part of the scheme. Children are able to buy one of these with a voucher, effectively making the book free.
For the bookseller it encourages children into store and I am sure they are hoping to upsell them other books, but also give the children a positive experience of visiting a bookshop: hopefully buying and reading books becomes a habit. Within the £1 books were two titles that have licensing connections and campaigns – Hey Duggee and Dinosaur Roar. In both cases I am sure being part of the World Book Day programme is very useful and shines a light on the brands in a positive way.
Other licensees use World Book Day as a focal point for consumer promotions. Biscuiteers sent out an email promoting its Paddington, Beatrix Potter and Mr Men ranges linking them to World Book Day. It is good to see licensees being proactive and event aware. Licensees seem to be getting better at marshalling their own marketing efforts and taking a proactive approach to selling. Of course Biscuiteers is a company that is very experienced in ecommerce, but it has used this opportunity well.
On the subject of biscuits, I noticed that alcohol brand Bailey’s now features in the biscuit aisle. It is working with Bahlsen Biscuits to create a Baileys Choco Leibniz product. This is a great example of how licensing is being used in the FMCG category and how a distinctive brand like Bailey’s can help a manufacturer create a product with a point of difference in a crowded category. For consumers it is an affordable ‘treat’ item featuring a trusted brand.
I also went in search of licensing in Poundland this week. My previous visits had unearthed quite a bit of licensing activity in the value store, but this time round I felt there was much less licensed product in-store. A retailer like Poundland turns over stock frequently so this might change very quickly.
Product I did see included a FSDU featuring Peter Rabbit Easter Eggs selling at £1. Cadbury’s was making the most of the licence with a well presented FSDU. It had also embraced the opportunity to sell in Poundland, recognising it as an opportunity to reach consumers it may be missing elsewhere. Interestingly, there were a number of licensed gift sets at the front of store that were priced at £6. These seem to be positioned as special offers and designed to bring people into store.
Perhaps licensing has more of a role to play here with the potential to create one-off eye-catching products presented in gift sets. Similarly I noticed a Harry Potter canvas bag at the till point. I think Poundland could use licensing in this category more frequently and potentially work with IP owners to develop designs that tie in with the shopping theme or perhaps reflect different seasons. Bespoke design is a tool I think licensing should use more often.
Poundland is strong for arts and crafts. This time around I didn’t see much licensed product, but this is a category I expect licensing will feature strongly in again. One product it did have was a range of Barbie crafting products including a T-Shirt Tie Dyeing kit.
I was a little surprised not to see more licensed products in Poundland on this visit, but as noted earlier I think this can change quite quickly.
Finally, it is always good to see licensing being used in different ways.
My colleague Karen Addison visited Wild in Art’s Morph art trail in North Tyneside. She was rewarded with a fantastic open air art show featuring Morph in lots of different guises. The trail has been really effective in getting people out walking and exploring. Trails like this one are a great boost to local areas and help create a feelgood factor.
Darth Vader even turned up to check things out!
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.