Licensing International Expo 2008 landed June 10 at the Javits Center just in time for the summer’s first heat wave. Outside, temperatures hit nearly a hundred degrees. Inside, brands like Clifford, Goosebumps, and SpongeBob SquarePants were hot hot hot.
In a cooling economy, though, how can retailers make sure consumers choose their brands? In his panel “The New Consumer, the New Retail, and Licensing in the New World,” Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of the NPD Group, offered some insight:
- For the first time, five generations of a family—a 5-year-old, 25-year-old, 45-year-old, 65-year-old, and 85-year-old—may influence one another’s purchasing decisions. There’s lots of growth in the teen market, and parents and kids share choices in entertainment of all types (you’ll see lots of overlap between the top 10 list of CDs that adults buy from stores and the top 10 list of artists kids download from P2P networks).
- The number one reason consumers buy a product is a recommendation from a friend or family member. Therefore, since friends and family members are such big influencers, retailers should find ways to market to them even if they are not the intended audience for a given product. “Find a second message for another audience,” Cohen says, citing anti-aging creams as an example: Young women “who say, ‘Mom, I love you, but I don’t want to look like you’” are a secondary, and strong, market for the products.
- Sell a lifestyle, not just a product. Customization and personalization are key, since the consumer thinks the ability to customize is the norm—think Nike iD sneakers, engraved iPods, and build-your-own Sony VAIOs with customizable colors and textures. “It’s not big dollars, but it’s a big connection point,” says Cohen.