OPINION – Asgard Media’s Kelvyn Gardner on the importance of looking outside of the industry

Next week the ‘virtual doors’ of the Festival of Licensing will open to the licensing world. So, before we’ve even begun to get used to London’s Excel as the new home of Europe’s biggest licensing event, Asgard Media will now be coming to terms with being a digital exhibitor.

We were founded in 1998, the year before the very first Brand License London 1999 – as it was then called. Although the way we go about our work, already different through emerging technologies, is even more radically changed by working through a digital platform, our mission remains the same – to bring new companies into licensing.

Most of you reading this will already be utilising licensing as an important part of your work. You may be an agent or licensor/brand owner, a manufacturer of consumer goods with a license portfolio, a service provider of design, e-commerce and sundry other diverse roles. Licensing is a big business in the UK, and a growing business. We’re all proud of our part in it. 

Here’s an uncomfortable fact, though. Only a tiny proportion of British manufacturing firms utilise licensing. Licensing International’s research shows that the UK, the second biggest licensing market in the world, generated retail sales of licensed products worth $15 billion in 2019. 

MakeUK  (www.makeuk.org) the trade association for manufacturers, calculates total output of our manufacturers at $250 billion. Now, not all of that output is consumer goods, but, even so, this means that only 6 per cent of all the manufacturing output of this country is using licensing

What a shame when we all know that licensing could help almost all manufacturers of consumer goods. Put simply, that’s what Asgard Media does. We help manufacturers use licensing to improve their business. 

We call ourselves ‘Licensing Consultants’, but what does that mean to a company not currently involved in consumer products licensing? What is it that we know that can add value to their business?

What we know is that licensing works. Take one of our own newest clients, The Harrogate Tipple. At the beginning of 2019, they were a regional small-batch distiller of craft gin under their own brand. A nice business but confronting huge competition in the craft gin market, many retail doors closed to them. 

Asgard Media took them on. We put them into their first license, Downton Abbey. In just eighteen months they have won major international quality awards for Downton Abbey Gin, opened export markets to USA, Europe and Australia, and even picked up Best Newcomer Award at the 2020 Licensing International Licensing Excellence Awards. Even the Yorkshire Post reported this. Sales, distribution, consumer profile, all boosted fantastically by this wonderful marketing tool, licensing.

And licensing is not just a tool for SMEs. Long-term Asgard Media clients like Finsbury Foods and Yoplait continue to add new licensed SKUs to their ranges every year and enjoy these same business benefits.

So, our mission, every day, and focused on the Festival of Licensing, is to take the lesson of the Harrogate Tipple to the 85 per cent of UK manufacturers who do not use licensing right now. We have no allegiance to any particular brand or property; we look for the right fit between our licensee clients and all the brand opportunities out there. 

We believe that we are a positive force for UK licensing as a whole. However, I really must end with a direct appeal to manufacturers: come and meet Asgard Media at the Festival of Licensing. It will cost you nothing to find out from us just how licensing can boost your sales, your profits and your profile. It just might change your life.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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