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Asda and Tesco: licensing friend or foe?

Searching for licensed products in an Asda or Tesco superstore is a sobering experience. Within these sterile environments, it is the price tags not the products that yell, 'Buy Me!'. Nothing is designed to appeal visually or sensually to the consumer. Rather, it's about irresistible pricing.

How does this fit with the licensing industry's aspirations about brand enhancement? It doesn't. Supermarkets have little time or space for brand presentation and if they do, efforts not surprisingly go into their own brands; we saw this clearly in the more thoughtful presentation of clothing own brands George and Cherokee. Yet licensors and licensees are fighting hard to get their products into the grocers, where the significant sales outweigh all of the above.

Some aisles lack licensed products altogether but, in most, the licensed products supplement an own brand offering, a blend most prominent in toys and children's furnishings (such as bedlinen). Here are some of the other distinctive trends we noticed.

Price comparisons between licensedand unlicensed products are striking:

Toys: a strong mix of licensed and own brand products

Own-brand is dominant in clothing

Homewares: own brands not up to the 'real thing'; Lunchboxes: immune to own brands?

Instore promotions: a varying commitment to the World Cup; mixed official and unofficial products and imaginative product design...

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