An international view: “This can bring exciting opportunities to smaller companies”

Herschend Entertainment Studios’ Natalie Setton on the brand re-launch for Chuggington and developing new ways of doing business.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every country across the globe.

LicensingSource.net has been catching up with a selection of licensors and licensing agents from Europe, the US and Russia to find out more about how their businesses have been affected and how they see the rest of 2020 playing out.

Today, we head to the US to get the views of Natalie Setton, vp commercial, content distribution and licensing, Herschend Entertainment Studios.

“We’re fully focused on the brand re-launch for Chuggington, and conversations with licensees and retailers have been as active as ever. We have been able to maximise this time to schedule quality meetings with partners. It’s mixed in terms of how COVID-19 has affected them.

There are clearly some winners in this depending on the product category and for online sales as people’s lifestyles and needs have changed. However, there is an evident enthusiasm for business to resume, and we have been fortunate to have been able to meet virtually with a lot of partners.

The remainder of 2020 is still very uncertain for many and the industry as a whole. The gradual re-openings across the US and Europe are encouraging, but it is not clear yet how shopping habits may have and will continue to evolve. The impact on consumers’ propensity to browse or make impulse purchasing decisions is not yet known. This leads to a natural challenge in planning, budgeting and forecasting for all sectors of the licensing industry and, ultimately, cautiousness.

As we look toward autumn, I think there will be further disruption and challenges to the trade shows and buying season environments. Previews will likely continue to take place virtually, so finding ways to present a brand or product line that will grab the attention of retailers, distributors, and licensees, will become all the more critical. Planning and pressure to tighten up the video conferencing process, product demonstrations, and openness to rethink the rulebook and collaboration ideas will be essential. That said, this can bring exciting opportunities to smaller companies and allow them to develop new ways of doing business with retail by leading with their excellent product.

There will also be a bottleneck of new movie franchises launching in 2021 with delayed launches in 2020, and this could present challenges as retail space becomes even more competitive. Still, there certainly seems to be a demand and continued captured audiences around the world for new content and properties. This will need to be accompanied by more evergreen, trusted IPs.”

This feature originally appeared in the summer 2020 edition of Licensing Source Book. To read the full publication, click on this link.

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