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Why the baby character market is booming

Mothercare’s head of licensing and character, Barbara Robinson, explains why properties pitched at this sector will always get a good hearing.

It was such an honour to participate in the LIMA discussion panel at the House of Commons last month. What a fantastic venue – it certainly added a certain gravitas to the occasion. Although, the House of Commons bongs did seem to go off every time I spoke, which was a tad off putting.

One of the subjects we covered was the debate around pitching appropriate properties to a retailer. The licensing industry is a very buoyant, but crowded market and there are a million properties out there competing for consumer and by default, retailer attention – particularly in the kids market.

Unlike my fellow panellists, I am not averse to a Power Point presentation as long as it is used as a guide without having to sit through every detail on every page. Plus the decks are very useful for collating the salient points of a property to share with colleagues back at the office to help engage and inform.

More importantly is the ability to focus on properties that are clearly appropriate to my market. For Mothercare and ELC in the UK, we are very clearly a preschool retailer, so if it is a brand targeted at the 6yrs + market, it is unlikely to be a good fit. While it is always good to look beyond the obvious, I would highly recommend referencing how your property would resonate with our core consumers in your pitch.

Retailers really appreciate potential partners taking the time to understand their customer profiles and you are far more likely to get cut through if you have made some attempt to understand the different dynamics within different retailers.

Far more interesting and diverse, however, is the baby character market. This is not driven by the vagaries and inconsistent attention span of a toddler, as it is targeted to adults – new parents and gift givers.

With long lead time product and the complexity of a cross category campaign, placing orders on properties that are dependant on pre-schoolers still liking the show/book/film 9-12 months on, or second guessing they will like it if you place early, can be a risky business.

Tried and tested properties tapping into the nostalgia, aaah or cute/novelty factor is a sure fire winner. Today’s new mums and dads have grown up with licensed character product and are not sniffy about buying into it for their offspring.

It is no accident that the most successful kids properties have resonated as much, if not more, with the adults endorsing them – think Pixar, Frozen, Star Wars.

Playing into this within the baby sector has opened up a whole new dimension for us. Plus everyone is always on the look out for original gifts. It’s a win-win! Properties pitched at this core demographic will always get a good hearing.

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