Ever-‘Green’ brands to add color to licensing segment

In an economy where consumers still are careful about their spending, brand owners are working harder to differentiate their licenses and bring meaningful new products to market.

“Retailers are still a little conservative and are tending toward the proven,” said Marty Brochstein, SVP industry relations at the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association. Brochstein said he expected such evergreens as Disney Princesses and Pixar’s “Toy Story” to continue to drive sales.

Disney, the world’s largest licensor with $27 billion in global retail sales in 2009, will focus heavily on the boys’ market in 2011 with the upcoming release of “Cars 2” in June 2011 and the acquisition of Marvel and its properties. “It will be a big year for boys,” said Bruce Morrison, SVP sales for Disney Consumer Products. “‘Toy Story’ is on fire, and we should see another spike when the DVD comes out. ‘Cars’ is still popular, and we’ll continue to build on that program.”

Expect to see plenty of products featuring “Phineas and Ferb,” which has become the Disney Channel’s No. 1 series among boys ages 6 to 11 years and rates as television’s top animated series in total viewers among all kids ages 6 to 11 years and tweens. “Licensees from Hallmark to [Johnson & Johnson] will be introducing products,” Morrison said. Disney’s licenses already appear on Band-Aids, Oral-B toothpaste, vitamins, hand sanitizer and Pull-Ups training pants and wipes.

Action heroes continue to be popular, and 2011 will be a big year for some new properties. Warner Bros.’ 2011 theatrical release of “Green Lantern” will mean a big push for the franchise. “It will be a landmark year for DC Comics and master toy licensee Mattel, led by programs in support of summer 2011’s ‘Green Lantern’ release,” said Rita Cooper, a spokeswoman for Warner Bros.

There’s more green on the horizon with Sony’s release of “The Green Hornet,” scheduled for January 2011. The film, which will star Seth Rogen as the vigilante crime fighter, will get plenty of play during the holiday season. Also, expect big things from Sony Pictures Animation’s live-action family comedy “The Smurfs.”

Children’s licenses aren’t the only properties driving sales. Jupi has introduced “The Biggest Loser” Body Shapewear collection. The four-piece collection, designed to provide support without being restricting, will retail for between $13.49 and $14.99. “I wanted the line to be accessible and affordable,” said Bruno Schiavi, Jupi president. Rite Aid will carry the collection in the hosiery/shapewear department in all of its stores.

Paramount has joined forces with Coca-Cola for a family-targeted holiday merchandise program celebrating the 65th anniversary of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “We’ll have some great seasonal product available at retail this holiday season,” said Darren Kyman, executive director of marketing and retail development at Paramount Licensing. Snow globes, ornaments, gift stockings from Gift Creation, popcorn-filled collectible tins from Signature Brands, and glassware, coasters and mugs from Boelter Brands are some of the lines available for the 2010 and 2011 holiday retail push.

Consumables will be another hot licensing category. “Consumables, especially in the fields of health, nutrition and wellness, are of great interest this year,” said Michael Gottsegen, VP licensing and retail development at IMG. New licensed food offerings with IMG licenses include: X Games energy drinks, “The Amazing Race” host Phil Keoghan’s line of Now high-protein energy bars, “The View’s” Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s line of gluten-free No-Gii bars, a new line of vitamins and super foods from Montel Williams’ Living Well With Montel line and the expansion of the Ellen DeGeneres Halo brand of dog and cat food.

Top 5 licensing product categories


*In millionsSource: International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association
CATEGORY ESTIMATED LICENSING REVENUE 2009* %OF TOTAL LICENSING REVENUE
Apparel $793.5 15.7%
Toys/games 785.0 15.5
Software/video games 513.7 10.2
Gifts/novelties 440.0 8.7
Accessories 433.7 8.6