By Reyne Rice, Trend Analyst and Trend-Spotter, Toys, Games, Tech, and Youth Marketing
First posted on the YourToyCom.com blog forum and community website serving the toys, games and childrens’ technology industries, on behalf of the Spielwarenmesse. Spielwarenmesse is the leading and largest International ToyFair in the world, held annually in Nuremberg, Germany in early February.
Following up on my Pop Culture blog last week, here is a spotlight focus on two more lucrative and growing categories of licensing that have tie-ins with toys and games for both the youth market and the youth-at-heart market.
Music Licensing Captures a share of the Pop Culture Wallet
Music continues to be a bonding element across generations. One Direction (Global Merchandising) is expanding globally as the leading blockbuster teen and tween heart-throb group for live concerts worldwide. As of June 2013, their debut album Up All Night has sold over 5 million units. Their second album, Take Me Home launched in November 2012 and has already achieved over 5 million unit sales and topped the charts in over 37 countries. A sampling of the licensed products associated with this lucrative One Direction brand includes music accessories, posters, electronic device covers , greeting cards, apparel, beach towels, dolls, musical instruments, publishing, books, puzzles and games, bakery goods, hosiery, riding sports, frames, bedding and room décor, jewelry, and so much more. Their movie This Is It debuts in theaters in August 2013.
Music concerts and festivals continue to boast a huge fanbase and sold-out event status in both local and global settings, fueled by an experiential trend, where consumers live and breathe their favorite brands as a lifestyle choice. This ever-growing interest in live music experiences and popular festival attire, music downloads and music accessories, plus other branded merchandise provides retail sales opportunities. In Las Vegas, throngs of Electric Daisy Chain (EDC) fans were in town, at the same time as the 2013 International Licensing Expo. Other popular teen and young adult music festivals are gaining in popularity across the USA and Europe: Coachella (California), Ultra (DJ) Music Festival (Florida), Camp Bisco (upstate New York), Bonnaroo (Tennessee), Electric Forest (Michigan), Glastonbury (England), and Roskilde Music Festival (Denmark). These are just a few of the music venues that have captured international attention, within the last few months.
This music lifestyle continues to be a connecting link for generations of music-lovers, often capturing dual-target audiences. Licensed merchandise for music-lovers (whether or not they can attend these music festivals and concerts in person) is a lifestyle choice. Licensed products are worn as a coveted badge of the live concert/ festival experience, and displays fan loyalty for the music that defines them.
Kidz Bop music compilations continue to attract the kid and tween age group. The Kidz Bop 23rd edition CD was released in the USA in January 2013, and is the #1 music brand for kids 5-12 in the USA. Kids aspire to and relate with a wide genre of popular music choices, and both the CD and the licensed merchandise offer an opportunity for retailers to connect with the tween and teen market with relevant licensed music brand opportunities. There is even an App on Spotify, Kidz Bop Boombox, that curates the music for kids into three different age group categories: Preschool (ages 2-4), Kidz (ages 5-9) and The Boom (ages 10 and up). The newest Kidz Bop 24 CD launches in mid-late July 2013.
Sports Licensing drives forward with Social Media Exposure and Relevant Celebrities
Sports licensing continues to be a strong growth segment of the licensing business, since it appeals across age groups, and genders, and targets a distinct and loyal fan base. By soliciting sports celebrities as spokespeople (both veteran sports heroes, and new superstar players), these sports franchises draw millions of worldwide fans. Adidas, ESPN, Formula One Racing, Major League Baseball, Manchester United, NASCAR Racing, NBA, NFL, Nike, and World Cup Soccer are examples of distinct personality and lifestyle sports brands that capture an active fan base, both on and off the sports field.
Social media, mobile device merchandising, live events coverage & commentary and streaming programming options have been used effectively to drive significant followings among sports fans. Whether fans attend the matches or events in person, participate in tailgate parties, or watch them on a variety of screens, these fans are actively engaged.
Smart franchise owners reach out regularly, even daily. They are employing relevant and targeted messaging, visual streaming options, incredibly visual replays and spotlight sports moments. They also offer physical merchandise to expand the seemingly unquenchable desire of sports fans to associate with their favorite teams and players. Entire families are involved with apparel, games, video games, sporting goods and toys that connect fans with actual play experiences, favorite players, stats, trivia, and more. One of the newer franchises, Duck Dynasty (BrandGenuity Licensing), is a highly popular reality-TV show airing on A&E Networks in the USA that focuses on the sport of duck-hunting. It currently boasts over 8.2 Million active viewers each week. Last season’s finale captured 9.6 million viewers. Certainly a trend to watch.
Reaching beyond the more traditional licensing opportunities offered by Movie and TV celebrities and licensed characters, manufacturers and retailers can carve out niche opportunities in-store and online, with music and sports celebrities. By soliciting fans of popular music and sports franchises, and catering to these lucrative licensing opportunities, retailers can boost their seasonal and counter-seasonal sales. For the loyal and vocal music and sports fans, their favorite brands reflect their lifestyle choices, and they are willing to wear their choices proudly, with licensed merchandise selections.
Next week, more Pop Culture news, direct from San Diego California ComiCon Convention USA: 2014 News for Collectors & Fans of Pop Culture. Watch this video on additional selections and trends in Pop Culture Licensing.