Licensing Grows in Juvenile Products

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Character, brand properties lead the way

Licensing has become a driving force in the juvenile products business, accounting for approximately $950 million (or 16%) of the industry's $5.9 billion in sales. That's up from the 14% reported a year ago.

Licensing benefits from a rising birth rate (up 3% in 2000) and the commitment by a growing number of companies to serve consumers with recognizable name brand goods.

Licensors and licensees will continue to capitalize on parents' (and grandparents') desire for baby supplies that reflect their personalities and support their growing families.

"We like licensing," declares Jonathan Breiter, VP, Baby Boom (New York ), which claims 70% of its business is in licensed products. Known as the largest producer of diaper bags, Baby Boom has a long list of licensees for diaper bags as well as for room d¯r, lamps, plush, gifts and other juvenile products.

Baby Boom, says Breiter, likes both brand and character licensing, as evidenced by its licensee list, which includes Jeep, Eddie Bauer, Blue's Clues, Bob the Builder, Pampers, Bear in the Big Blue House, John Lennon, and Baby Genius, among others.

"We look at licensing as an integral part of the marketing mix," he says, admitting that licensing is a bit of a roulette game.

Throughout the juvenile products sector, such evergreens as Sesame Street, Baby Looney Toons, and Winnie the Pooh remain favored icons. Gaining momentum is John Lennon (with new art available), Jeep, Carter's JOY line, and Fisher-Price, to name a few.

Fisher-Price, which has been cultivating a brand licensing program for its core brands, has signed J. Mason to produce strollers and portable bassinets using the manufacturer's Safe Surround design.

Worth noting: interchangeable paneled furniture by P.J. Kids, featuring a slew of licenses coordinated with home goods manufacturers.

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