The arts & crafts market has been pretty steady lately, with annual sales sitting at US$2.6 billion at the end of February, according to the NPD Group. So after more than 60 years of being known as ‘the glue company,’ it’s no wonder that Elmer’s Products wanted to extend its reach when it acquired arts & crafts and activity products manufacturer Scientific Explorer and licensed arts & crafts player GiddyUp at the end of 2006.
And Elmer’s de facto move into licensing through the GiddyUp buy, which brought existing licenses with Nickelodeon, Sanrio and Disney into the fold, is pegged to hit a whole new speed this year under the guiding hand of licensing director Rick Mallow.
Brought in last May on the heels of Elmer’s signing its first deal with Nick for back-to-school products, Mallow’s hunting for hot properties, targeting girls in the preschool and three to nine ranges to join its portfolio with Disney, Warner Bros., Marvel and Hasbro. New back-to-school products for kids 10 and up this year include licensed 3-D binders with molded covers and matching combination locks. Disney Fairies, Hannah Montana and High School Musical play into these product formats, along with Camp Rock and Hello Kitty SKUs made exclusively for Target.
Mallow sees huge potential in GiddyUp subsidy ColorLoco’s non-licensed Blendy Pens (which fuses two colored pens together to create a new color) and Color Blast (invisible ink) lines. Primarily distributed through home shopping platforms, these products could easily be packaged in licensed sets. So a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse activity kit, for example, might come with a Blendy Pen. Other brand extension efforts include taking Scientific Explorer specialty retail SKUs and re-branding them as Elmer’s products for the mass market.
This strategy may help when it comes to integrating James Galt & Co., the UK-based arts & crafts company Elmer’s bought in February. The acquisition gives Elmer’s an important international entrée, and because Galt markets its products largely in high-end shops, the two can learn from each other about playing in different retail levels. Mallow is also exploring retail opps in mid-tier, office and food & drug channels.