"Purchasing choices must be left to the consumer, we can't be directive"

Robert Hutchins

By Robert Hutchins

November 26th 2017 at 7:26PM

Universal Brand Development's Hannah Mungo talks to Licensing.biz about the shifting boys' market and why the firm is excited about its future.

Armed with a triple-whammy launch into the boys’ market next year, Universal Brand Development is looking at a big 2018.

Jurassic World, DreamWorks Dragons and DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender will each be the focus of Universal’s 2018 plans as the firm throws down the gauntlet to become the leader in the space when the new year rolls around.

With such a genre-spanning line-up, it’s no surprise to find that UBD’s country director for the UK and Ireland, Hannah Mungo is full of confidence for the firm’s licensing activity for the coming year.

“The boys’ market contains lots of brands performing well but without a clear leader at the moment,” Mungo tells Licensing.biz. “So we are looking forward to seeing Jurassic World, DreamWorks Dragons and DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender succeed in the space over the next two years.”

The trio of properties is of course tipped to launch to fanfare across the key categories in the boys’ space, including toys and apparel. But as cultural trends shift and the distinction between boys’ and girls’ markets begin to be questioned, just how is Universal adapting with it?

“Recently we have noticed a trend from fashion retailers wanting us to explore the creation of unisex apparel ranges,” explains Mungo. “It’s very important to leave purchasing choices to the consumer and not be directive.

“However, what we can do is be smart in our marketing messages and support for the retailer. Ultimately, consumers buy brands and properties that resonate with them as individuals.

“Our properties like DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender, will still be found primarily in the traditional boys’ action aisle, but something like Illumination’s Despicable Me, attracts both boys and girls for its humour.”

The fashion category will always be a key component to the boys’ market, while toy categories such as action figures and collectables continue to shift big numbers, particularly for Universal’s portfolio of licenses.

While product does continue to sell through, Mungo foresees a future in which greater emphasis will be on experiential engagement.

“With Jurassic World, DreamWorks Dragons and DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender to offer, we’re very excited about the future of the boys’ market,” she says.

“But you need great marketing and partnerships to support a top boys’ brand now. Experiential is key – at retail and in terms of toy and play. We need to look beyond just product and discounting to drive footfall at retail, and we need strong digital marketing to make sure products sit at the top of boys’ wish lists.

“Top level collaborations are also increasingly important – linking a brand like Jurassic World with LEGO or DreamWorks Dragons with Playmobil, for example, creates a powerful offering.”

Indeed it does, and, if charged with a spread of partnerships akin to the aforementioned on the horizon, Universal Brand Development could just be sitting comfortably at the top of the leader board afterall.