Playing Up The “l” Factors
That is — Leverage good licenses. Sure, licensed candy can allure a substantial kid-audience, as well as the moms that take them shopping, but characters and icons are not shoo-ins to department profit by any means. Their proper leverage is paramount to success, especially when dealing with the fickle younger set. Thus, top marketing/merchandising tips (as outlined by two of the industry’s top manufacturers) include the following.
Be relevant to the properties’ essence. Make sure the license has a good fit within your channel.
Be sensitive to price/value — “don’t let the royalty push your price point over the value of the product at retail,” says Julie Nunn, director of marketing at CAP Candy.
Make sure the product is as strong as the license. “Kids want the property, but they also want a cool candy/toy,” reminds Nunn.
Merchandise where kids will be — “at the front end and end caps,” relays Mike Cavalier, vice president of marketing for Flix Candy/Imaginings 3.
Use POP to bring kids to that spot. “Promote the license loud and proud with header signs, and shelf danglers,” says Cavalier.
Whenever possible, position licensed candy product with other licensed non-candy items. “Many retailers develop feature shops that offer an assortment of licensed goods that go against the property; this is especially common with movie properties,” explains Nunn.
Make sure the licensed product packaging is the most up-to-date with the property. “Licensors will update their style guides from time-to-time, and kids know when you do not have the latest character art,” Nunn cautions. “Make sure the licensed art you carry is the latest and the greatest.”
Work out exclusive promotions. “We did a great program for a major retailer with Harry Potter merchandise,” Nunn explains. “We produced a $3.99 line that was merchandised on an end cap — but it was re-packed at a special volume from others; hence, that retailer was able to offer an exclusive/attractive price point.”
Include more licensed products in the Christmas, Easter and summer candy sets. These are seasonal opportunities with much more potential, according to Cavalier.
Find a product format that works well and continually rotate good licenses into it. Examples of these are the Pop Slider from Flix and the Spin Pop from CAP.
As for evergreen versus “up-to-the-minute” licenses — they both play important roles in the well-rounded kids’ candy set.
Evergreen licenses “will typically get wider retail acceptance” and are “good for planogrammed position in novelty candy sets for about a year and for seasonal set purposes,” according to Cavalier. They also “offer the business some stability,” adds Nunn. “Buyers can plan their inventory and roll out product on a monthly basis based on standard retail turns.” In addition, manufacturers such as CAP “can offer up newly refreshed evergreen licensed product for in-line and POG merchandising,” according to Nunn.
Up-to-the-minute or promotional licenses (such as movie-related) “are great for generating incremental off-shelf purchases,” says Cavalier. “The sales spikes can be really high on these properties and they are typically positioned as in/out in a two- to three-month window.” In addition to the high volume, promotional licenses allow manufacturers to “experiment with new product ideas that may be able to translate to new product platforms,” adds Nunn.
As with most consumable categories lately, consumer lifestyle issues have found their way into licensed candy, and leading manufacturers are addressing them head-on. “Today, most all products in this category need to be positioned for On the Go,” recognizes Cavalier. “We are also very conscious of trying to provide healthier alternatives for kids,” he adds. The way he sees it, “sugar-free, reduced-calorie and healthy/fortified will all be part of the future trend for licensed candy and snacks.”
CAP’s stance is different, but still with a sense of responsible marketing. “With the emphasis on ‘health’ in the market, we are positioning our products to be high on ‘play value’ with a modest portion of candy,” explains Nunn. “Our goal is to have the licensed property ‘experience’ — i.e. eating the same candy as Harry Potter would — be the primary value, and the candy offer becomes the secondary value at retail.”