27399986650 90aa929dbf oAs the premier tradeshow for interactive entertainment, E3 brings the video game industry’s top talent together. By Bianca Herron

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is one of the world's biggest video game expos. Owned and operated by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), this year’s annual event will be held June 13-15, 2017, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

As the world's premier event for computer, video and mobile games and related products, the three-day expo will connect tens of thousands of the best, brightest and most innovative in the interactive entertainment industry. Leading-edge companies, groundbreaking new technologies and never-before-seen products will be showcased during the event.

The ESA first debuted the annual expo in 1995. Though it has always been closed to the public - hosting only game developers, retailers and media - this year the ESA will open the annual industry event to the public for the first time ever.

A total of 15,000 tickets have been made available and they will include access to the show floor, panel discussions and other events, including video game television host Geoff Keighley’s live studio show, YouTube Live at E3, which will include interviews with game developers and executives.

“The feedback we heard was clear. They wanted to play the games inside the convention center. In addition, exhibitors inside the convention center wanted to have access to the fans. So this year we’re bringing the two together,” ESA Senior Vice President of Communications Rich Taylor told the GameSpot website.

Taylor also said the ESA is always looking for ways to make the E3 Expo more relevant and useful for game industry professionals, journalists and the public.

“I think asking, ‘How can we improve?’ ‘Where are video games headed?’ and ‘How do we connect with fans?’ are all healthy questions, and that helps ensure E3 stays current and meets exhibitors’ needs,” he said.

In addition, E3 will also offering business passes for the first time this year. With E3's Business Pass, attendees will be able to connect with tens of thousands of industry professionals, such as industry analysts and business partners.

Attendees with the pass will also receive with several benefits, including a three-day expo pass, access to the VIP Lounge, catered breakfast and lunch each day, access to the Exhibit Hall through a dedicated VIP Entrance, as well as access to CEO/Developer panels and LA Live activations.

“This is a changing industry and E3 has always evolved to meet industry needs and anticipate where we’re heading together—as an event, as an industry and as fans,” Dan Hewitt, ESA’s vice president of media relations and event management says. “The decision to open our doors to fans was a strategic decision.

Hewitt attributes ESA’s members and their vision and leadership with making these new experiences possible at E3.

“We have a model that allows the business of the industry to continue for our business and media attendees, and provides an opportunity for video games’ biggest fans to experience the latest in innovative, immersive entertainment,” he says.

“E3 will feature more than 200 exhibitors showcasing never-before-seen video games. Couple that experience with an opportunity to listen to leading video game industry figures at E3’s panel sessions.   “E3 has a reputation around the world as the place where video game hardware and software launches happen,” Hewitt concludes. “Last year, E3 generated more than 65 billion media impressions around the globe. That doesn’t happen accidentally and it’s a testament to E3’s strength, its connection to the fans, and the event’s position in the industry.”    

ThinkstockPhotos 513312388Here are four insights to help retailers build a stronger, more beneficial relationship with customers. By Rachelle Sokan

A customer journey is a series of interactions a customer experiences with a company or brand to complete a specific goal, such as making a purchase or learning more about a product. But this journey doesn’t just take place in the store or on a website; it begins before customers interact with your brand, and it continues long afterward as they reflect on the experience they had. A customer journey map is a visual story board that allows us to document and experience this process as a customer might, empathizing with them by “walking in their shoes.” The map lays out the interactions and moments of truth they have with a brand.

Ideally, this map is constructed using a journey-mapping workshop — a collaborative event involving a diverse group of marketing experts and their customers. The process begins by defining specific archetypal users, known as personas. Your brand may have several different personas, each with different backgrounds and motivations; it’s important to keep each of them and their varying needs in mind. The next step is to determine each persona’s goals and how they go about attaining them. Finally, the workshop members map each possible step of the experience and the personas’ emotional responses to these steps.

1. Refine Your Engagement Strategy 

First analyze how customers come into contact with your brand in the first place. Examining this crucial step can uncover opportunities for growth, as well as making your brand easier to discover for new customers. Learning how customers enter the sales funnel can also help you determine whether your resources are being allocated properly and what improvements could be made to attract more potential customers in the future.

Dunkin’ Brands had decades of success reaching customers through traditional methods, but had to update their advertising for modern customers who expect a more customized experience. Through journey mapping, they identified opportunities to reach more customers through focused, tailored communications. 

2. Improve Brand Touchpoints

Are there moments in your customers’ journeys that you’ve taken for granted? Are there interactions you weren’t even aware of? The process of mapping can highlight touchpoints that haven’t been given sufficient consideration. In addition to helping identify missed opportunities, it can also draw attention to moments in the journey that could be made smoother and more intuitive, improving the experience for your customers. This can also uncover points in the path where customers encounter obstacles that may encourage them to end their journey prematurely.

Because Starbucks learned that their customers are avid users of social platforms, they invested a great deal of attention to their social presence, earning them enormous followings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This gives them a reliable source of feedback from customers, ensuring that their needs are consistently met, as well as a great way of engaging directly with them.

3. Capitalize On Emotional Interactions

For every touchpoint, there’s an emotional response from the customer with a corresponding implication for your business. Points in the journey that leave customers satisfied and pleased with their interactions are clearly a good sign. But moments that present confusion or frustration must be addressed. The journey can only try a customer’s patience for so long before you’ll lose that customer. Make sure that every interaction with your brand makes it clear to customers that you’ve designed the entire experience with their needs and emotions in mind.

Starbucks’ efforts to map their customers’ journey show how much importance they place on the emotional responses of their customers both during and after their interactions. It’s no coincidence that Starbucks locations are customized based on region, or that baristas call out customers’ orders by first name. 

4. Storyboard Your Customers Roadmap

This visual representation of the path your customers take offers an essential tool for measuring the experience and critical steps along their journey — especially aspects of the journey that typically fall outside of your focus. This storyboard is a great resource for discussing, planning, and analyzing steps in the customer journey, as well as acting as an aid to help you develop an improved roadmap for your customers.

The most valuable insights that come from mapping the customers’ journeys are revealed when you apply your customers lens and map their experience with your brand. Every shortcoming and difficulty your customers experience is an opportunity for them to look for another brand that understands what they care about in terms of choosing a product or service.

What Do You Have to Lose?

The benefits of better understanding the customer journey are evident. What may be less obvious are the risks a brand runs by neglecting to do so. Failing to give ample thought to your customers’ experiences might make it more difficult to empathize with them and understand any difficulties they may be having with your service or product. This can lead to frustrated and even lost customers. Consumers have come to expect brands to offer an experience that is tailored to their specific needs, and failing to provide this can mean lost market share. Anticipating the needs and potential frustrations of your customers is essential to maintaining their happiness and loyalty to your brand.

Rachelle Sokan is the client solutions, engagement manager for SGK. 

StrikerKislevitz brings more than 10 years of international licesning experience to her new role. By Bianca Herron

Striker Entertainment – a full-service global licensing agency - has hired Anna Kislevitz as Director of International Licensing.   

Kislevitz brings more than 10 years of international licensing experience to her new role where she will be focused on new business and retail opportunities for the U.K. and EMEA. She will also work with existing partners across the Los Angeles-based company’s portfolio of brands, including AMC's The Walking Dead, Five Nights at Freddy's, and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, among others. 

Additionally, Kislevitz will report to Vice President of Operations Martine Berreitter, and will meet with Striker's sub-agents, international licensees, and retail partners at the upcoming Licensing Expo in May. 

logo toy industry foundationTIF has received more than 300,000 Bandaloom Kits to benefit impoverished and underserved kids in six states. By Bianca Herron

Tristar Products Inc. donated nearly $3 million in Bandaloom looming kits – a fun, easy-to-use looming kit that allows kids to create their own unique jewelry – to the Toy Industry Foundation’s (TIF) Toy Bank.

More than 300,000 brand new kits will be sent to 13 different children’s charities –including Shelter Partnership, World Vision, My Stuff Bags Foundation, Santa Claus of San Bernadino, Metro Kidz and Heart of Compassion – across six states, such as Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.

These toys will go to children facing various forms of adversity, such as impoverishment, in an effort to “put smiles on the faces” of those living through and/or recovering from difficult circumstances throughout the year.

 “We are grateful to receive this extremely generous donation from our new donor, Tristar Products,” TIF Executive Director Jean Butler said in a statement. “Thousands of children across the country will benefit from receiving a Bandaloom kit, making play possible for many who have no toys to call their own or who are suffering from adverse circumstances beyond their control. We appreciate Tristar Products’ generosity and look forward to building our partnership with them in the future.” 

Licensing Expo is the world’s largest and most influential annual trade show dedicated to licensing and brand extension. Licensing Expo is owned and organized by UBM Americas and sponsored by the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association (LIMA). The expo will be held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas on May 23 to 25. Here are some of the exciting products you will find there.



F4017HK HelloKitty

Genuine Thermos® Brand FUNtainer® Bottle

The FUNtainer® bottle features Thermos™ vacuum insulation technology for maximum temperature retention, keeping beverages cold for up to 12 hours. It has a 12-ounce capacity and an easy-to-use push-button lid with a pop-up straw.


F3007HK HelloKitty

Genuine Thermos® Brand FUNtainer® Food Jar

The FUNtainer® food jar features Thermos™ vacuum insulation technology to keep contents hot for up to 5 hours or cold for up to 7. With a 10-ounce capacity, this item is great for packing lunches or taking a snack on the go.


bb blue wide speakers


Billboard Water Resistant Wireless Speakers

Kick off the festival season with Billboard Music’s first line of Electronic Accessories. Billboard has created a line of Bluetooth speakers that will up your music game! The collection features bold colored; water resistant speakers that are a must have for all summertime pool parties. 

Retailers: www.Staples.com / www.OfficeDepot.com





Line of fashion t-shirts for department and specialty stores; art takes its cues from active western lifestyle, American heritage and cowboy values; inspired by PBR riders who live fast and are willing to endure pain and suffering to push the limits of what is possible


Bullhide Hat PBR 4X quality

Bullhide Hats

Innovative and stylish, Bullhide PBR branded hats incorporate all of the western flavor and flair of the old west, with a modern look and feel that PBR riders wear proudly; tough enough to last 8 seconds in the arena and stylish enough to wear with dress jeans and boots



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