Robert E. Johnson, president at The Mobius License Management Group, tells Licensing.biz why Case IH's Tiny Tracks brand is all set for a successful debut next year,
Firstly, can you tell me the history behind the brand?
Tiny Tracks from Case IH will be launched in 2016. Geared for little farmers aged between 0 and 36 months, the Tiny Tracks merchandise brand is part of the growing licensing programme from Case IH, manufacturer of the iconic red farm equipment.
Following in the footsteps of more than 170 years of legacy brands – including JI Case, International Harvester and David Brown – Tiny Tracks reflects the authentic farm environment and function of Case IH equipment.
Our Tiny Tracks Team – including Lil’ Till the precocious earthworm, Tiny Red the adventurous tractor, and a host of cuddly, sweet, and sometimes sassy farm animals and equipment characters – will introduce toddlers to a cozy, happy, patterned world on the Happy Tracks Farm. All of our characters and companion elements are built for educational and creative play.
The first Tiny Tracks merchandise will be delivered to retail stores in the USA & Canada in 2016.
How many licensees does it have to date (in the UK and worldwide) and in which categories?
In 2015, Tiny Tracks will have licensed product in development with a select number our existing licensees in the USA, starting with infant toys from our master toy partner Tomy and followed by footwear.
What do you expect will be some of the best performing products?
Based upon current trends, we expect that toys, followed by apparel, apparel accessories and children’s room décor, will have the earliest and strongest impact in the market.
What new categories or territories are you looking to bring the brand into?
We are looking to expand the base of infant and nursery partners into categories including feeding items, crib toys, nightwear, garden products and party goods. We are also looking for a book publisher with distribution in North America, Europe and Australia.
Do you have any special marketing initiatives or promotional activity planned for 2015?
We will start social media activity in Q4 2015 and continue on into 2016 with platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter and with regular PR, as products are launched. Plus, we will open communication with a group of influential mommy bloggers in the USA and Canada.
What has the retail reaction been like to the brand?
It’s still very early in our development and the exposure in 2015 has been limited. However, from preliminary conversations with our licensees, the reaction has been positive and encouraging. The authentic farm theme is one that resonates easily, and the Tiny Tracks focus on education, friendship and teamwork is universally appealing.
What are some of the main challenges you've come up against? And how have you overcome them?
We have really not experienced any challenges at this time. So far the visual and guideline development phase has gone well – and in a very short time frame, too!
What would you most like to achieve with the brand this year?
Our goal is greater awareness of our new merchandise brand: exploring more opportunities within our existing licensees and signing new licensees. We want to support the main toy products by bringing in more programmes that are also on brand and appropriate for Tiny Tracks.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
The Tiny Tracks brand rounds out Case IH merchandise for children – now offering products for ages 0 to eight years through adult.
The tractors and combine characters are based on real equipment that our farming customers operate every day. Pepper Puppy, Tobi Calf, Rory Piglet, CiCi Chick and Lil’ Till the earthworm have fun personalities and bold style guide assets.
This collection makes Tiny Tracks a marketable identity with the possibility to expand into a wide range of product categories that will engage, teach and entertain the next generation of little farmers in the garden or on the farm.
The style guide contains over a dozen custom pattern – each pattern complimentary to one another and based on the Tiny Track characters, personality traits, shapes and colours. The patterns incorporate vegetables, grains and geometric shapes with colors that are chosen to appeal to the millennial generation of new parents.
Opportunities are available, and it is the right time to be part of a growing licensing programme with potential in Europe, South America, Australia.
The target audience for Tiny Tracks may be the farming family, but the appeal of tractors and farm animals is truly universal particularly with these sweet, decorative, cuddly, characters.