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Home | RaugustOnLicensing


Karen Raugust is Special Projects Editor of The Licensing Letter and author of The Licensing Business Handbook as well as numerous reports including International Licensing: A Status Report. RaugustOnLicensing will feature Karen's unique perspective on trends and news about licensing and merchandising.

Monday, Aug 18, 2014
A Good Fit
By Karen Raugust
Monday, Aug 18, 2014 06:45
Licensing deals in the growing health and fitness category extend from yoga mats, exercise videos, and fitness apps to wearable trackers, gym bags, and supplements. One area that has seen less activity is in fitness equipment such as barbells, weight benches, and heavy fitness machines.

While there have been several examples of strong licensed fitness equipment brands over the years--Gold's Gym, IronMan, Schwinn, and Greg LeMond are among the properties with a presence--the category can be a challenge. The high prices and expected longevity of the products mean properties must have staying power, as well as a clear connection with strength and fitness.

That said, there has been some activity of late. Cirrus Fitness, which markets workout products including stability and medicine balls, jump ropes, and yoga mats, announced earlier this year that it had secured rights to the National Basketball Association and WNBA, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, and Major League Soccer. These products are added to its collegiate line of fitness equipment, which incorporates the logos of 110 universities.

And last year, FremantleMedia signed Cap Barbell for a line of fitness equipment under the SELF magazine name, including hand weights, weighted balls, fitness hoops, yoga mats, and jump ropes. Note that both Cirrus and Cap's licensed lines skew toward the smaller, less expensive end of the fitness spectrum, rather than toward the heavy equipment end.

Licensing can drive significant sales in fitness equipment. When retailer Dick's Sporting Goods announced it would cut ties with Livestrong in 2013 due to the Lance Armstrong doping scandal--it started carrying the equipment, manufactured by licensee Johnson Health Tech, in 2009--it noted that the brand represented 50% of its sales of treadmills and ellipticals.

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Thursday, Aug 14, 2014
Where There's Smoke…
By Karen Raugust
Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 02:18
To date, 23 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use, with two of those also allowing recreational use. The emerging industry has created a number of opportunities for licensing.

Several properties with thematic links to marijuana are increasing their licensing activity, for example:

• The 40-year-old magazine High Times licensed Sherry Manufacturing division StickyStash.com for a line of apparel featuring phrases such as "Hanging with my Buds."

• Cheech and Chong, who also are on StickyStash.com's roster, licensed BeBevCo and its subsidiary Relaxation Solutions for a line of hemp- and supplement-infused Relaxation Ice Cream tied to their classic film Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams.

• Back in 2012, Leon Hendrix, Jimi's brother, and his company Rockin Artwork granted co-branding rights to Cannabis Science, a developer of medical marijuana, to feature Jimi Hendrix imagery in its branding and marketing.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurial growers of pot are starting to use brand-management techniques to establish and differentiate their names in this crowded market, and are licensing growers to use their brands in other states (since pot cannot legally cross state lines).

They also are forging licensing deals with makers of pot-smoking accessories and cannabis-containing products such as skincare, food and beverages, child-proof packaging, dispensers, and the like. For example, Corr Products licensed its marijuana brand Green Rush to ID Global Corp. to make nutraceutical ground coffee and energy drinks under its name, while Green and Hill Industry signed West Coast Gifts to sell smoking accessories, pipes, and vaporizers in Canada under its Ross' Gold brand.

In other smoking-related news, the relatively new and fast-growing e-cigarette/vaping industry also is starting to see some licensing and endorsement activity, as reported last month in The New York Times. Musicians are particularly active in brand collaborations, including Snoop Dogg and Trash Talk with Grenco Science and 2 Chainz and Juicy J with Trippy Stix. Artists, fashion designers, and lifestyle brands also are becoming involved in designing e-cigs.

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Monday, Aug 11, 2014
Single Cups, Multiple Brands
By Karen Raugust
Monday, Aug 11, 2014 12:49
The single-cup home beverage-making category--encompassing both hot and cold drinks--has led to a number of opportunities for licensors of properties that lend themselves to branded beverages and broths.

These range from Cooking Light, Welch's, and Sunny D for flavored, carbonated water made in Sodastream machines to Wolfgang Puck, Campbell's, and Coca-Cola for coffee, soup, and cold drinks, respectively, made in Keurig single-cup brewers. (Coca-Cola also has become the largest shareholder in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, which owns the Keurig and K-Cup trademarks, but no longer the K-Cup patent.)

The next phase of licensing, which is starting to emerge, is for the appliances themselves. In just over six months, KitchenAid has partnered with SodaStream for a branded sparkling beverage maker, Green Mountain has released a line of collegiate Keurig brewers, and Electrolux launched a Lavazza-branded capsule espresso maker.

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Thursday, Aug 07, 2014
Baby Boom
By Karen Raugust
Thursday, Aug 07, 2014 03:00
Baby-care and infant products brands continue to intensify their presence in the licensing business.

Recent deals include Reckitt Benckiser's Baby Magic teaming with Airwick for an air freshener within the latter's Familiar Favorites Collection, and Boppy, which began as a marketer of pillows designed for infant feeding, signing Global Design Concepts for diaper bags.

Meanwhile, Britax, a car seat, stroller, and baby carrier brand, retained The Joester-Loria Group to extend its name into child-care categories such as furniture, safety products, and health, bath, and feeding items. And Energizer Personal Care hired Brandgenuity to represent its Playtex trademark, among others, for brand extension into the baby-care arena.

These join other infant products specialists that have expanded their presence in licensing (see our June 20, 2013 post), including Sophie la Girafe, Little Giraffe, Safety 1st, and Sassy.

Even as baby-care companies are extending their names into complementary products, brands from outside the infant-care industry also are entering the category, especially with strollers, car seats, and travel accessories. For example, within the last year, MGA Entertainment's toy brand Little Tikes signed stroller and car seat maker Diono as a licensee, while BMW and its sister brand Mini introduced similar products with McLaren and Easywalker, respectively.

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Monday, Aug 04, 2014
Stationery Is In Fashion
By Karen Raugust
Monday, Aug 04, 2014 01:56
Fashion themes are currently popular in the greeting card and stationery category, and licensing is part of the mix.

In recent months, several fashion designers have signed deals for various types of stationery, cards, and the like. Charlotte Ronson is designing thank you notes, personal note cards, holiday cards, and party invitations for Shutterfly division Tiny Prints; Adrienne Vittadini licensee Tri-Coastal Design is producing stationery, among a wider range of lifestyle products; Kate Spade and Oscar de la Renta have partnered with Paperless Post for lines of online invitations; and a number of designers, ranging from Georgina Chapman to Erin Fetherston, have participated in a "designer series" of wrapping paper from online home retailer One Kings Lane, which consists of limited editions that generate income for charities supported by the designers.

Meanwhile, fashion themes also are coming into greeting cards and stationery through deals with artists. Examples include Bonnie Marcus, known for her slogan "where fashion meets paper" and her fashionista characters; she designs physical cards for American Greetings and print-on-demand cards (available through kiosks in Target and CVS) with Kodak Alaris. In addition, ISAK, a British fashion illustrator, creates cards, calendars, and stationery for Otter House, while painter Kelly O'Neal introduced a six-card Art of Fashion collection through Papyrus.

Many of these product lines are positioned as premium offerings and feature effects such as glitter or velvet flocking. When available digitally, as is increasingly the case, they are often positioned for customer-personalization as well.

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