In 2015, licensed products generated an estimated $251.7 billion USD in retail sales globally.
The UK accounted for five per cent of this total, and has now overtaken Japan to take second place in the world-wide licensed product market.
For the film and TV industry, merchandise provides a massive commercial opportunity. The total revenue from Star Wars toy licensing since 1977 is estimated at $17 billion USD, not to mention to remainder of the franchise and further categories. Latest trends and crazes are a major driver in the children’s toy market, prompting spin off products and merchandise. The Entertainer’s profits saw a spike in 2014/15 thanks to the likes of Loom bands, LEGO movie and Frozen.
However, licensing is part of a long term strategy and should certainly never be viewed as a "quick win" – jumping on the bandwagon of the latest hot trend. The major challenge for all retailers is to work closely in partnership with the licensors and licensees to get a slice of this pie. The challenge for us is to develop a point of difference.
In September 2015, The Entertainer collaborated with Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP) to develop a 26-strong range of Nickelodeon licensed products. These included craft sets, science kits and a magic box, including Glowing Gunge. This range was stocked exclusively, and supported by extensive PR and TV efforts across the fourth quarter and the Christmas buying season into 2016. Both parties worked closely together not only on a great range but also a successful marketing campaign across The Entertainer and Nickelodeon channels to raise awareness and drive sales.
The Entertainer have now partnered with Addo Play and Nick Jr to launch a new range called Nick Jr. Ready Steady Dough. The new line, available this October, includes several different sets to keep young ones busy for hours. This is another example of how we are trying to constantly develop a point of difference.
For junior buyers, it’s essential they understand how brand licensing works. Some of our junior buyers now take part in the Retail Mentoring Programme, run by the Brand Licensing Europe event that is taking place in Olympia, London between October 11-13. This means they spend six months working closely with licensees to understand the process, forecast the next trends and build up a network of contacts for the future. These relationships are essential for the growth of businesses.
As consumer demands change, retailers cannot afford to be complacent. In the children’s toy space, experiential marketing and personalised customer experiences are now just as important as the licensed products we stock. Brand engagement happens in-store and online, and loyalty can develop during the shopping experience.
This is something we have tried to achieve with our successful "Super Saturdays" concept. The concept was grown from the proactive and strong relationships developed with our licensors and suppliers, in particular Disney. With a 360-degree marketing campaign for each Super Saturday which includes TV, window takeovers, online, social, feature space in-store, competitions and product demonstrations, the Super Saturday campaigns bring the ‘best in class’ proposition to life in-store and engages with customers.
Super Saturdays is having a positive outcome on all brands involved. Disney Princess Super Saturdays, for example, resulted in a 20 per cent market share of the brand. Sales went up by 330 per cent week-on-week on the launch of the in-store and online activity.
Licensing and brands are therefore at the heart of our strategy, and will continue to help us grow and evolve.
Rebecca Naish is the Head of Marketing and Licensing for retail chain The Entertainer