It's a Gamble

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Behind every successful licensed product, there's a strategy. That business model allows a team of professionals to explore, analyze, and determine the overall benefits of executing a licensing program; investigate the right extensions for said brand; and ultimately justify bottom-line profit and top-line growth. Like many other businesses, licensing is not a science; sometimes a successful product is the result of pure gut instinct.

Even so, in creating a basic formula for your brand, some of the following key questions should surface (and resurface with each extension): In what consumer product category should this brand be without moving too far away from its core? Into what channel of distribution should this product (brand) be shelved or merchandised? Into whose hands should you place the responsibility of maintaining (and bolstering) your image and integrity?

Let's face it, many of today's brands have taken years (close to a century, for some) to establish their identities and brand recognition. Value, dependability, and quality are just some of the buzzwords that befit and are associated with so many viable, consumer-recognized, and household brand names. In many estimations, the business of licensing is a gamble: You are betting on your brand's recognition to hit the jackpot. But if a licensed product falls short, you may find yourself holding the cards…and that can be damaging, daunting, and costly.

Now in a business that clearly has grown by leaps and bounds (hence the creation of License! magazine more than four years ago), I am awed by the vast number of brand extensions, as well as the properties that carry brand extension potential. It seems apropos that this issue, my first as editor-in-chief of License!, offer a glimpse of the 2001 sales results and details of 100 Leading Licensors, a departure and extension of last year's Nifty Fifty. While this feature was already in the works before my appointment, I'm certain you will find it an invaluable benchmark as to the state of the overall licensing business and its many key players.

Call it trial by fire or perfect timing, but my foray into the business of licensing aptly began just before February Toy Fair and MAGIC, respectively. For those I have already met, you have heard that I and the publishing team of License! magazine have a strategic plan in mind, too. But right now, I'm listening…to your information needs. On this page every month, I will encourage you to contact me with questions, comments, suggestions, and future story ideas at (212) 951-6707, or via e-mail.

With this issue, you will notice some visual design enhancements, as well as additional categorical feature stories (see "Meals & Deals," and "Historical Home Decor," ) and new columns, including an L! Calendar, which details upcoming trade shows and events.

There's more to come....stay tuned.

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