John LouieJohn Louie brings more than 20 years of experience to his new role. By Staff Writer

Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has tapped John Louie as its Senior Vice President, International.

Louie brings more than 20 years of experience to his new role - including prior roles at The Walt Disney Company and Mattel - where he will be responsible for the strategic development and overall management of Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Canada across all categories of business, including top line revenue and P&L.

In addition, Louie will implement and execute global and regional strategies, working with global and regional leaders across various departments to drive revenue growth and benefit long-term brand building.

“Louie’s strategic business acumen and experience in managing international territories will be instrumental in growing our business globally, which continues to be a priority for the division,” WBCP President Pam Lifford said in a release.

beanstalkBy Staff Writer

Bruce Lee Enterprises has signed an exclusive representation agreement for advertising licensing with Beanstalk, a global brand-extension agency headquartered in New York. Considered one of the most influential martial artists of all time, Bruce Lee remains a major cultural icon with tens of millions of fans around the world. The partnership between Beanstalk and Bruce Lee Enterprises will aim to extend the personality rights of the icon for use in advertising, long-term brand associations and select product opportunities.

Lee created a new martial art called Jeet Kune Do that incorporated mind, body, and spirit – values he applied in all areas of his life and work. As an actor, Lee’s movie stardom elevated and redefined the perception of Asian Americans. Today, his legacy of self-expression, equality and pioneering innovation continues to inspire people around the world.

“We feel privileged to work with the Bruce Lee family, who take great care to preserve and share his philosophical teachings and entertainment legacy. Today, Bruce Lee’s social media imprint rivals the biggest pop music and movie stars in the world with tens of millions of fans – 80 percent of whom are in the most coveted 12-34 year old demographic,” Martin Cribbs, vice president of brand management of Beanstalk’s Icon Representation service, said in a release.

licensing By Jessica Blue

In the ever-competitive retail landscape, how do you stay relevant to consumers? How do you stay ahead of the competition?

Here are three reasons why retailers consistently turn to licensing to drive sales and revenue. Need a little more background on licensing? Click here. 

1. Open the door to revenue growth.

Global retail sales of licensed goods totaled $251.7 billion in 2015.* The U.S. is the leading country in the sale of licensed goods, accounting for $138 billion of that revenue. So it’s no surprise that top retailers like Amazon.com, Toys ‘R’ Us and Target attend Licensing Expo, the largest licensing tradeshow in the world, to capture their share of this growing industry.

While some retailers operate under direct-to-retail agreements for licensing, there are other options available, based on your needs and the level of risk each party is willing to take on. Learn about the three main types of agreements in The Basics of a Licensing Deal guide.

*Source: LIMA Global Licensing Industry Survey 2015 Report

2. Differentiate your product offerings.

Licensing agreements allow you to stock your shelves with products featuring the characters and brands that consumers love.

Capsules, collaborations, limited editions and other types of limited licensing agreements can make your products even more exclusive and in-demand. You can learn more about these types of agreements at Licensing University, more than 25 educational seminars presented by the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) at Licensing Expo.

Licensing Expo is the only place you can meet 5,000 brands from all categories and all around the world. Exhibitors for 2017 include: Scott Living/The Scott Brothers, Coca-Cola Licensing, Bigfoot 4x4, FAO Schwarz, Sony Music Brands Group, Jack Daniel’s, Hang Ten, Amazon Studios, Nintendo of America Inc., Merch by Amazon and more. You can secure meetings with brand owners in Las Vegas by using the Licensing Expo Matchmaking Service – free to retailers attending Licensing Expo. Learn about Matchmaking Service.

3. Stay ahead of the competition.

Licensing the newest brands and characters for your products keeps shelves fresh and on trend. New properties are constantly breaking into the market, and licensing gives you fast access to get those hot properties in your stores and in consumers’ hands.

At Licensing Expo, you can see which brands and characters will be in demand in the next 18-24 months so you can start planning.

How to jumpstart your licensing program

Licensing Expo is where thousands of brand owners and retailers alike have launched and developed their licensing programs. It takes place May 23-25, 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV. Register for free here

Plus, the all-new Licensing Week (May 22-25, 2017) brings together the best networking, educational and deal-making events surrounding Licensing Expo. Licensing Week includes an Orientation Breakfast for new attendees and exhibitors, more than 25 Licensing University educational seminars, and invitation-only Entertainment Showcases presented by Mattel, NBCUniversal and more. View the full schedule here

Images copyright and courtesy of Licensing Expo

TIAThe 114th North American International Toy Fair showcased more than 440,000 square feet of exhibit space.

The Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) 114th North American International Toy Fair brought more than 30,000 global play lovers to New York City last week, Feb. 18 - 21, to preview hundreds of thousands of ground-breaking toys and games. The largest toy marketplace ever held in the Western Hemisphere, Toy Fair 2017 boasted a record-breaking 444,309  square feet of exhibit space – the equivalent of nearly eight football fields filled with toys - at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Toy Fair’s upbeat atmosphere matched a burgeoning U.S. toy market, which grew 5 percent in sales last year. Eager to see the latest trends in toys, games, and youth entertainment products, 14,176 retailers, wholesalers, entertainment executives, importers, buying groups, and trade guests from 96 countries were in attendance.

In addition, Toy Fair had more than 1,100 toy companies of all types and sizes showcase new product lines and key drivers for holiday in front of 10,276 mass and specialty buyers, including delegations from 4,000 unique retail outlets and 22 of the nation’s top 25 toy sellers, such as Amazon.com, American Girl, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Costco, CVS, Disney Store, Target, Toys“R”Us and Walmart. 

All attendees enthusiastically explored a vast array of skill-building toys and games, ranging from cutting edge robotics, drones, and active toys, to classic playthings like dolls, plush, and board games. Toy Fair 2017 also reported on the top toy trends for 2017 – including Collectibles 2.0, Up & Active, Technology Trends, Oh So Classic!, Movie Mania, and STEAM to STREAM.

“Toy Fair 2017 was a resounding success for our members’ businesses," TIA's President & Chief Executive Steve Pasierb says in a statement. "The booths and aisles were abuzz with excitement and optimism, as the toy community continues to impress, innovate, and leverage technology, bringing new toys and games to market that enrich the lives of families everywhere. This year’s show opened doors for American toymakers to new and emerging markets around the world, brought exciting trends and play experiences to life, and unveiled inventions from talented inventors and entrepreneurs. Toy Fair is truly THE epicenter of toys and games and a show unlike any other in the world.”

RSRNew research indicates that more than a third of retailers are on track with omnichannel execution. By Peter Zaballos, senior vice president and chief marketing offer of SPS Commerce

Throughout the past decade, omnichannel retail has been top-of-mind for industry executives and those who manage supply chain ecosystems. And for the last half of that decade, SPS Commerce has worked with Retail Systems Research (RSR) to benchmark and translate omnichannel challenges and opportunities into planned technology investments for retailers, manufacturers, and distributors and logistics services providers.

In this year’s report, Retail Insights 2017: Moving Beyond Omnichannel, a big shift was evident.

The report revealed omnichannel retail has moved from a standalone “initiative” to being the center of business strategy and operations, especially for retailers. It’s now driving the entire business.

According to the report, more than 35 percent of survey participants believe their omnichannel strategies are on track, up nearly 200 percent year over year. Yet, some of those respondents are keeping a close eye on consumers’ demands to see how they affect their plans – possibly derailing some of their progress. And they’re not the only ones watching consumers’ behavior as 75 percent of respondents are increasingly concerned and cite it as the top factor driving their business over the next five years.

Retailers see fewer opportunities for growth in 2017, making them less optimistic about the future than their ecosystem peers. Contributing to retailers’ less optimistic viewpoint is increased competition: more and more manufacturers and distributors are selling direct to consumers with 60 percent of manufacturers and 58 percent of distributors running websites that do just that.

As a result, the race is on. All ecosystem participants are working hard to improve consumers’ e-commerce experience and grow e-commerce sales, which more than 60 percent of all retailers, manufacturers and distributors rank this as their number one priority for 2017.

Retailers are eager to reinvigorate the store experience by bringing in more digital experiences. As a result, they are looking for manufacturers and other ecosystem partners who are willing to use data to collaborate and make quick and informed business decisions.

An area survey respondents consider an enormous challenge is inventory visibility, which hinders both omnichannel execution and profitability. Only 78 percent of retailers have full visibility into their in-store inventory and only 77 percent have full visibility into their distribution center inventory. The percentages are even worse for distributors and manufacturers: 47 percent of distributors and 45 percent of manufacturers have no visibility into their partners’ inventory. This lack of inventory visibility creates ripples far beyond omnichannel execution. Without accurate and reliable visibility, retailers often over-invest in slow moving or dying products, while starving fresh, unexpectedly hot items.

Item attributes are another area where data and the sharing of it play a crucial role. Retailers originally hoped to speed product onboarding and trim costs by getting manufacturers to create and share item attributes. Now, retailers are looking to work hand in hand with manufacturers to create item attributes that help increase product visibility in response to consumer searches and social media activity. Such item attributes also enable retailers to create more personalized opportunities to connect with consumers.

Its no wonder 43 percent of respondents across the ecosystem expect their use of item attributes to increase. And as retailers get deeper into personalized assortment and product recommendations, the need for expanded item attributes and more accurate inventory data—and the ability to share this data in real time—will continue to increase as well.

Here are some other recommendations from this year’s report:

* Retailers: Collaborate with other ecosystem players. You must focus on the future of your stores, but this doesn’t need to be an internal-only project. By including other players in both planning and execution, you’re more likely to create stores your partners—and your shoppers—will actually support.

* Manufacturers: Pay attention to retail channel health. With retailers struggling, it is critical to offer greater inventory visibility and more item attributes.

* Distributors: Add services. With retailers ramping up drop shipping and manufacturers selling direct to consumers, you could be squeezed out unless you find ways to improve or add services.

* Logistics service providers: Breed speed. Although speed for speed’s sake isn’t the answer, you can increase your value by helping your partners achieve the gold standard, which is every order shipped the same day it’s received.

Those companies that fail to make these changes will likely be in for a rough ride, while those that succeed at moving beyond omnichannel retail will become the leaders of tomorrow. Which will you be?

Peter Zaballos is senior vice president and chief marketing offer of SPS Commerce, a retail cloud services platform provider.

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