Getting an early buy-in from key retailers can make or break a licensing program. And this year, along with its returning retail buyer’s lounge, Brand Licensing is aiming to show these all-important partners how licensed products of all stripes will fit into their planograms and look on their shelves with three new retail concept areas.
Located in London’s West Kensington, the event’s venue, Olympia Exhibition Centre, was erected in 1885 to house the National Agricultural Hall. While the building has served the area well for more than a century, Brand Licensing Europe event manager Jon Gibson has had to devise a floor plan that would better serve today’s conference-goers.
‘I guess it was built when people clearly didn’t eat sandwiches,’ he laughs, explaining that catering areas are being added after a survey of last year’s exhibitors revealed their rumbling stomachs often went unfilled at lunchtime. And it was this quest to add concession stands that led to another innovation at the upcoming event – product showcase areas.
‘Sometimes retailers need to see more than a sales sheet,’ says Gibson. ‘When you see an image it’s a leap of imagination to see it on the shelf. Sometimes it just doesn’t work for them. At the end of the day, people want to see the products they are going to buy.’
The end result is three new areas designed to facilitate sandwich snacking and product gazing. There’s The Toy Store, which will feature toys, games, puzzles and arts & crafts and The Salon, built to showcase shampoos, lotions and grooming products. Gifts, stationery and domestic goods get their turn in The Licensed Lifestyle area.
The displays will be strategically set up over the show floor’s two levels and each exhibitor has been given the option to display a few products in the appointed cases.
Surrounding each of the seating areas will be as many display cases as needed to house all the products, says Gibson. And with more than 148 exhibitors signed up by mid-August repping approximately 2,200 IPs at the show, it’s not surprising that many licensors have jumped at the chance to be part of the exhibits.
‘It is good way to show to licensees the kind of products that can be released on our properties, especially for Japanese animation,’ says Sabrina Oyama, licensing executive at Toei Animation Europe. She admits buyers are sometimes reluctant because they can’t envision the concept applied to products. ‘But once they have a product in front of their eyes, they can better imagine it,’ she notes.
Carin Carniani, project coordinator for Stockholm-based Plus Licens, says her company is planning to display some of its new products. ‘It’s a good idea,’ she says. ‘We have some stuff that’s been created for the Japanese market that will look good.’
For Gibson, it was a natural innovation that has already been deemed a success, judging by the exhibitors’ responses thus far. ‘Just as we have a screening room for major movie studios, we want to show what the products will look like on the shelf,’ he says.