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Grace Cole

The toiletry licensee tells us more about its secret to success...
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As a parent, Tracy Mort was unhappy with the quality of children's licensed toiletry products, having found an excess of packaging and little real value in products in the marketplace.

But rather than just accept the situation and buy the best products she could find, Mort decided to set up Grace Cole in order to provide high quality products at reasonable prices.

After working for several businesses within the industry, Most set up Grace Cole in 2007, with the intent of providing consumer with a creative, innovative and great value for money alternative to the generic products on offer.

The firm's first deal was with Hallmark for Forever Friends. The initial range consisted of toiletry and cosmetics products for tween girls and the team received the Forever Friends Best Product Design award from Hallmark.

The Forever Friends licence has grown and expanded over the years and this year, the firm also launched a range of natural baby toiletries, which have been very well received.

MD Mort comments: "The Forever Friends licence is fantastic and probably our most successful property at present, it has such a big fan base and is easily recognisable.

"Our tween toiletry and cosmetic gift range continues to grow, even in markets where the brand is less well known."

The company as a whole is also regularly moving into new territories and currently supplies almost 50 countries worldwide. Mort explains that part of Grace Cole's strategy is to ensure new brands are attractive to multiple markets, rather than just the UK.

Mort goes on to explain more about the firm's secret to success: "Finding that gap in the marketplace, finding a brand which is memorable and iconic in its own right - even if it isn't one you would normally associate with toiletries or cosmetics."

This is exactly what Grace Cole did when selecting its second licence. Haynes Publishing was signed for Men's products.

The brand this year celebrates its 50th anniversary and as such, a bespoke manual, the Haynes Guide to Grooming, which accompanies the men's toiletry products and has been written and illustrated in the authentic and iconic Haynes manner.

Grace Cole was keen to maintain a portfolio of heritage brands and to provide boys with the same quality products, so the next addition to its client list, was Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

Mort says: "We aren't looking for the next big thing - the licences we sign are heritage properties that we can develop and work with over several years."

With these brands in place, Grace Cole has experienced strong growth over the past 12 months. Mort outlines the plans for the next year: "We are focusing on providing the best possible support for our existing brands and we are already working on some exciting new products for the autumn/winter 2011/2012 ranges."

There are still a few gaps to fill in the portfolio, such as a strong pre-school brand, but it will need to be right to win over Grace Cole. Once in, though, the firm backs up its brands with strong marketing support in order to ensure success.

Mort concludes: "Our products are marketed direct to consumers through independent brand websites, regular press attention, which is supported by reader offers and competitions.

"We keep consumers interested with daily updates on our facebook and twitter profiles, reaching consumers directly and reinforcing our brand values, giving advice and support for fans of our products."

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