Precious resources, such as employees and time, are spent in licensing even if you utilize an external agency. Without direction, both your internal and external resources could be throwing spaghetti against the wall and waiting to see what sticks.

I’ve been in the licensing industry for 20 years and I have witnessed both sides of the spectrum—strategy versus no strategy. Licensing programs implemented without a focus equate to significant resources wasted because no evaluation, strategy and prioritization were in place to hit the goal of a successful licensing program.

A terrific strategy process includes these elements in order to prioritize your approach:

  1. Know your brand equities and how far they can stretch
  2. Ideate product categories for the brand (this is where most strategies stop and where the spaghetti starts to be thrown all over the place)
  3. Understand the product category
    • Size
    • Trends
    • Competitive set
    • Has it experienced growth or is it on a decline?
  4. Validate product concepts with consumers
  5. Prioritize potential products and identify programs (groups of products) and platforms (groups of programs)
    • An individual product may not make sense in the market unless it is under an umbrella of similar products. For example, Kellogg’s licenses many brands for its cereal program. In this case you may only have one product in their program.
    • Are you seeing a theme of products for a particular industry such as auto, pet, sporting goods, etc? That is how you know you have a platform of potential products. For example, our Licensee, Fetch does an amazing job of developing programs for pet specialty platforms (i.e., Shout Pet carpet cleaners and spot treatments and Burt’s Bees for a line of pet grooming products).
    • In this day and age, retailers are looking for programs, not products.
  6. Identify target companies that have retail placement (only in rare cases should you consider a start-up company or one that has limited distribution)
    • Research target companies websites, retailer websites along with conducting store checks.
    • Attend industry trade shows and network.
    • Target stakeholders within each of the target companies.
      • You want to cast a broad net to executives that are decision-makers and it is in their job description to be strategic.
      • Possibly start out with two to three individuals depending on the size of the target company.
      • I don’t recommend calling the main switchboard and asking for the individual. Research and find their direct line and email address. Our agency has access to many resources to tap into this type of information.

Prioritizing your work and keeping it focused will allow you achieve success in a shorter period of time. In Part 2, we will take a look at what happens to your time and resources if you don’t have a strategy.

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