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31 Jan – 4 Feb 2018
Spielwarenmesse®: When a company uses licences, this is inextricably linked with its customers’ relationship with the licence theme as well. This relationship is particularly strengthened when customers can literally slip into the role of a licensing hero, and kit themselves out as Batman, Superman or Harry Potter. The whole area of licences has become significantly more important among costume suppliers worldwide in recent years. Can you confirm this?
Peter Hollo: Like in many other categories, licences have become significantly more important in the area of Carnival products in recent years. I would even go so far as to say that Carnival products are virtually guaranteed even greater success through licences. As you mentioned, who wouldn’t like to take on the role of their favourite (super-)hero? The lines between age limits and target groups have been blurred in respect of Carnival products in particular. Licence themes otherwise ensconced in the children’s segment can also be unabashedly embraced by adult target groups. Besides the particular charm of this, the effects are also reflected in solid retail sales.
Truly successful licences have global appeal. Regionally successful intellectual properties (IPs) are few and far between. Is this one reason why there has been a concentration among a few companies on the side of providers of Carnival products?
P.H.: I think there’s nothing wrong with using especially successful IPs. In fact, it would be absurd not to do so. For an IP to work for Carnival products, you have to be able to use it to create the right items. This is the only limiting factor as far as I’m concerned. You have to really think about how to use a licence. But that holds across the board. For the rest, I believe there are also very strong national licence themes which have already proven really successful.
Besides the IPs often dreamed up at some designer’s desk, there are also those which have only a regional impact at first, mainly involving literary works, before going on to enjoy global success. I’m thinking here of Heidi or Grimms’ Fairy Tales, whose protagonists are especially popular themes for children’s costumes. It can’t be easy to figure out who owns the rights to Hansel and Gretel, for example. Does this still need to be clarified?
P.H.:: If things need to be cleared up in certain cases, then specialist lawyers and the relevant courts usually get involved.
The licensing business works best when the value-added chain is strategically designed, from the rights holder to the licensee manufacturing the goods and through to the retailer. Can smaller toy retailers get in on the action?
P.H.: Oh, yes. There are opportunities for every retailer in this market, absolutely regardless of size. The only question they need to consider is which products and licence themes suit their particular customer structure and the overall concept behind their business. This is the kind of run-of-the-mill product range policy decision that retailers are used to making every day. Naturally, it is no different when it comes to licensed goods. I would actually advise all toy retailers to really focus on licence themes when considering products for Carnival in particular.
Licences open up avenues to completely new target groups, bringing back customers you might have thought were lost to you and generating recurring sales year after year. Licences awaken demand and interest among customers. No successful company would miss such an opportunity nowadays.