It’s no secret among the licensing community that retail is a volatile place right now. Only this week, the UK high street has been braced for a long-drawn goodbye to a one-time major player in Mothercare as it details its plans for a phased closure of all 79 of its UK stores, underpinning that times are indeed tough out there.
But as the old saying almost goes, in the face of adversity comes some of the best innovation, suggesting that while the pressure may be on to find space through the traditional routes to market, more and more the need to find an alternative is being fulfilled by the most innovative.
At the very least, it’s a sentiment that Edutainment Licensing has seemingly taken to, becoming one of the number of agencies looking towards new and emerging routes to bringing an IP to market during these most interesting times.
“We rep a number of IPs that lead with publishing, and it seems increasingly difficult to secure a physical publisher,” explains Denise Dean, owner of Edutainment Licensing, “so we are now working with a number of digital platforms worldwide for ebooks. Some of these include audio, some are animated and have interactive elements and we hope to add AR to the list shortly.”
This level of diversification, within a staple and traditional sector such as books and publishing, not only puts a property like Arty Mouse or Super Geek Heroes (both repped by Edutainment Licensing) in front of a much wider audience, but helps to push new boundaries and lend credence to progressive new sectors within publishing itself.
“And not only has this allowed us to reach a much wider audience than we could ever hope to achieve with physical books, it also allows us to harvest the data and make use of it when targeting other potential partners,” Deane tells Licensing.biz.
“Plus, some of these platforms are also used in schools and libraries, which gives us another route to our consumer.”
Of the key new routes in which brands can better reach the end consumer, Deane is quick to champion the rise of personalisation, a factor that has seen particular success within the gifting and publishing sectors. Already, Deane has managed to secure listings with notable online retailers like Very, Littlewoods, Gratton, while she and Edutainment Licensing are in discussion with many more.
Among the properties currently on the Edutainment Licensing books, it’s the publishing-turned-lifestyle property Horace & Co, created by the art brand Flossy & Jim, that has resonated particularly well within personalisation.
“Personalised ‘physical’ publishing is proving to be interesting – obviously it’s a very niche category but we’ve had some success with Horace & Co which was created after Lynette [co-creator of Flossy & Jim] began writing her own humorous stories for her autistic son,” says Deane.
“Using the stories, she helped encourage him to try new foods, meet new friends and prepare him prior to visiting new places.”
So well received has the book series been it even found itself a finalist in the Progressive Preschool Awards in the Best Preschool Publishing Range. This, in turn, has caught the attention of major publishers who have since expressed interest in publishing the collection.
While for the smaller IPs this industry has to offer, fighting a way past the major players to secure retail space is a nigh on impossible task in this current climate, it’s by example that Edutainment Licensing leads a new way to crack a market that is slowly, but surely, gaining traction with the consumer.