NEW YORK -- Entertainment properties are always a huge attraction, but corporate brands will make a big splash at the Licensing 2001 International trade show here June 12 to 14, according to Carole Francesca, chairwoman of show sponsor Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association (LIMA), also based here.
As opposed to years past when the hot licensed property was Star Wars or Harry Potter, she said the big buzz in the licensing industry this year is corporate brands, whether it be Mr. Clean rubber gloves, Dirt Devil toy vacuums or Harley Davidson key chains.
"You name the brand, and they want to get into licensing," she said.
Many retailers are skeptical after having bad experiences with supposedly hot entertainment properties that didn't sell. "People really got their teeth kicked in with [Star Wars]," Francesca said.
Ray Wallace, director of general merchandise and health and beauty care for Cub Foods Atlanta, Lithia Springs, Ga., agreed that entertainment characters branded on products do not guarantee sales success.
"Most of us are hesitant in the past couple of years because the movie tie-in products have been so weak -- ancillary toys have been so infiltrated, it's oversaturation," he said. "Star Wars toys did not go well at all, and Godzilla was an absolute bomb, so we're cautious."
While many movie tie-ins have price points that are "out of line" for the customer base, he said nonfood-licensed items like Blue's Clues books, Disney tie-ins, hair brushes and toothbrushes have fared better.
"We have a good turn on oral care and hair care," he said.
LIMA's Francesca said corporate brands linked to food items, like Sesame Street-licensed juices, are expected to remain popular.
"Sesame Street has the potential to last a very long time because it hits that preschool demographic," she said. "It's a perennial, like Flintstones vitamins."
Francesca said the tween market is still strong, and pointed to successful tween-targeted products like Seventeen-branded hair accessories. According to a report, Primedia Magazines, the proprietor of Seventeen magazine, has also inked a deal with New York-based Lantis Eyewear to merchandise Seventeen-branded sunglasses in mass merchandisers, supermarkets, drug stores and specialty retailers.
"The tween market is building to a head," Francesca said. "They have untapped disposable income and they want to buy stuff in a big way."
Still, she said one demographic or one hot property has not alone propelled the licensing industry to generate $97 billion in U.S. retail sales last year, according to LIMA.
"It's the growth areas that point the direction for the trend," she said. "If entertainment went away tomorrow, it would still be [big] business."
Robin Sayetta, president of offscreen entertainment for itsy bitsy Entertainment Co., New York, the marketer and licensor for Teletubbies in North America, said consumers overall are more savvy about licensing.
"They don't want to be fed the next big event," she said.
She said supermarkets tend to be prime outlets for licensed goods, especially published materials, because they can prominently display them for a specific amount of time.