As the economic climate cools across the pond, we asked one half of our international panel of licensing execs to identify markets generating growth outside of the big five (the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain), and got the other half to weigh in on how they’re safeguarding their existing business.
Diana M. Dieckmann
VP of licensing for Germany, Eastern, Central & Southern Europe, FremantleMedia Enterprises
The licensing business in Western Europe is highly exploited and successful already. But in Eastern and Central Europe, the success of international TV brands is increasing, and therefore the licensing business is increasing as well…The new media business offers a lot of potential, particularly as the mobile market covers almost 90% of TV households in the region and as younger viewers are very interested in up-and-coming technologies.
VP of European marketing and licensing, Nelvana Enterprises
Eastern Europe is the region that holds the most licensing potential in the near future in Europe. However, not all of those territories are at the same level…Currently, Russia, the Ukraine and Poland are the countries to watch. The growth is mainly being driven by a larger percentage of the population earning higher incomes, and their willingness to spend more money on a better class of product. Buying power in these territories is also increasing with their integration into the EU community. These economies are more open than ever before, allowing for some intense and free competition in their markets, which creates lower price-points that engender a better quality-to-price ratio on goods, including some for licensed IP.
VP of EMEA, Cartoon Network Enterprises
Central and Eastern Europe is our fastest-growing group of territories across EMEA. Growth is being driven by the strength and penetration of our linear and online channels in all local languages, as well as complementary programs such as publishing. In addition, we have a great agent in ELC that works closely with the channel marketing teams to raise awareness and support for local licensees. We have recently opened offices in all the key markets.
Executive director of international licensing, United Media
I believe that Eastern Europe holds the greatest potential to grow our licensing programs. Unlike other territories where the key categories for a successful licensing program traditionally start with apparel and/or toys, we have found that a successful licensing program in Eastern Europe begins with publishing and stationery. Our business in the territory has tripled since 2006, with anticipated double-digit growth in 2008. We have also seen an increase in interest from multinational companies looking for new opportunities in these countries, not only to increase revenue but to build brand awareness as well.
On maintaining what you’ve got:
Director & licensing agent, KJG Ltd.
In tough times, people sharpen up their act. It makes you focus even more on the competitive market. In the current climate, it’s important to be selective about the clients and licensees you work with… It’s also important to continue PR campaigns and make sure your properties/products get good exposure and awareness at consumer and trade levels. Being ‘out there’ and being seen and heard puts your properties at the forefront of people’s attention and minds, enabling a continuous licensing strategy, even if times are tight.
Executive director of international consumer products & marketing, Entertainment Rights
We are staying in active dialogue with all of our partners – licensing and retail – and working with them to understand their individual circumstances. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to the challenge that tougher retail conditions and higher commodity costs engender, but we are looking to be practical and supportive while the economy adjusts.
VP, Smiley World Licensing
This crisis is going to create a new kind of consumer. People now understand the world is really suffering because of the way they are consuming…As a consequence, many will buy less and choose ethical products. This is something we anticipated two years ago when we started to make clothing with organic cotton and greeting cards using bio plastics. We are making all possible efforts to influence our licensees to make sustainable products. In difficult times, instead of trying to hold on to the status quo and only save on costs, we need to innovate and adapt to a changing world and marketplace.
Head of licensing, Coolabi
We’re a very lean operation and don’t have legions of staff to finance. We also have a great mix of properties we own, part-own or represent, which cross all genders and age groups, so we’re not dependent on one particular sector for our revenue. Companies deriving the lion’s share of their revenue from preschool toys, for example, must be facing a very uncertain future, as must those which are American-owned and subject to a low dollar. Coolabi is also on the acquisitions trail – a tough economic climate always throws up acquisition opportunities as people re-evaluate their businesses.