Why Now? The Rise of Licensing

AuthorMichael Sanford Stone
ProfessionB.A. from Hamilton College and a J.D. from Emory University School of Law
Why Now? The Rise
of Licensing
Are Brands Dying?
Contrary to what you may have heard or read, the answer to that
question is “no.” But the marketing environment has changed so
radically in recent years that it can create the illusion of brands
in decline. To understand the new reality, let’s start with another,
more relevant question and find our way back to answering
whether brands are really dy ing.
Why are corporate marketing leaders and others turning to
licensing as never before? Or if they aren’t, why should they? Well,
anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows that in recent years,
the Internet and everyt hing associated with it has diminished
the eectiveness of traditional advert ising and complicated how
brands (and retailers) engage with consumers and drive consum-
ers to make a purchase. Technology has enabled the accelerating
changes in marketing and reta iling. Consumers now have multiple
entertainment and information platforms with which to engage
brands, learn about products, and comparison shop. ey also
The Power of Licensing
have multiple options with regard to purchasing. And brands pos-
ses s mul tiple plat forms to us e in r each ing c onsu mers, freq uent ly in
genuine ways. Not so long ago, we received much of our product
informat ion from tr aditiona l advert ising—telev ision, pri nt, and
rad io. e purp ose of bran ds, a er a ll, is to a ssur e us o f the q ual ity
of a product and to make our buying decisions easier. It’s all about
trust. Consumers are generally conf used about what to purchase
(in virtual ly every product category, particularly a rst purchase
before they develop brand loyalty), and they want their buying
decisions to be made easier and faster. Moreover, they want to feel
safe in making t heir purchases. Advertising was their source of
information; it was what drove trust in brands, loyalty and, most
importantly, buying decisions. And that’s where brands, under-
standably, devoted the majority of their marketing and commu-
nications resources.
In many respects, advertisers had a monopoly on the infor-
mation that consumers received about brands and products.
If anyone wanted to take a deep dive into brand and product
research, that person purcha sed the relevant edition of Consumer
Reports. at wasn’t so long ago. Now, however, that monopoly
has been broken apart. e Internet and technology has turned
everything on its head. Consumers have all of the information
at their ngertips about products they could possibly want (actu-
ally, much more than they really want). With a click, they can
obtain this information from experts, from “inuencers,” and
fro m each othe r, shar ing w hat t hey k now in onli ne rev iews , pos t-
ing and blogging, and from referring to a ll sorts of other avail-
able content. And it’s all free (in the old days, we had to pay
for an issue of Consumer Reports). ey don’t need to rely on
advertising as they once did. Increasingly, they don’t even need
to see , touch, and feel the pro duct, order ing onli ne sight u nseen.
But the requirements, expectations, and needs of consumers have
also become more robust, driven by all of this information, and
brands (to be successful) must address those elements of the con-
sumer’s connected shopping journey.

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