The Future of Licensing, Part I: The Shopping Battlefield

AuthorMichael Sanford Stone
ProfessionB.A. from Hamilton College and a J.D. from Emory University School of Law
The Future of Licensing,
Part I: The Shopping
Emerging trends can have a signica nt impact on brand licens-
ing strategies. Like any product journey, licensing follows cultural
movements and changes in consumer behavior. Brand owners con-
sidering licensing or already engaged in licensing must be par t of
the “shopping conversation.” If they are engaged in this dialogue,
they can optimi ze success and properly manage and support their
licensing programs. is engagement translates into understand-
ing how consumers are shopping today, where they are doing their
shopping, and what the dynamics are of both online and oine
retailing. If they fa il to be part of the shopping conversation, they
cannot develop the strategic plans necessary to drive a successful
licensing program and wi ll be leaving performance entirely in the
hands of their licensees and the whi ms of the marketplace. at’s
the wrong approach. Although I cannot cover all of the trends t hat
The Power of Licensing
already or soon will aec t retail (or even be certain which ones will
develop and gain prominence in the coming years), I can focus on
the rapidly changing retail landscape and shopping journey (this
chapter) and the increasing number of paths used to communicate
a brand message to consumers and the role of licensing (the next
Licensing succeeds or fails depending on how brand owners
take advantage of the opportunit ies in this new retail environment
and how they communicate their message. As time goes by, some
of what is described in these two chapters wil l evolve and perhaps
become outdated as new consumer behaviors, paths, and oppor-
tunities present themselves. What has been included here about
these evolving trends is li mited by space and time—an entire new
book could be written on this topic, but before the book is printed,
new trends will have emerged that wi ll also be deserving of the
attention of br and licensors.
As v alua ble as the o bser vati ons i n the se n al t wo cha pters wil l
be, you also should consider them as a guide for how to look at and
what to look for in the marketplace in the years ahead; they can
facilitate spotting movements and trends that w ill aect licensing
programs. Take the time to look down the road; do the research;
the clues are all there.
Retail Today
Consider the major trends unfolding today and how they might
spin out in the future. We are in a period of retail innovation and
transformation. Digital shopping, whether it be e-commerce,
digitally native vert ical brands, or other forms of shopping online,
has turned the shopping journey on its head. It’s now a “connected
shopping journe y.” Technology has ena bled this evolution in
shopping behavior by lowering the barriers to access, providing
transparency and information, and allowing bra nds to gain
scale quickly while also maintaining a one-on-one connection
with the consumer. Consumers can now shop wherever they are
located at any time of the day or night. Shopping and commerce

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