Opinion: Will Harry and Meghan receive a right royal welcome to licensing?

He’s not quite the artist formerly known as Prince, just yet but when Harry and Meghan first made clear their intentions to step away from their Royal Duties, it was quickly reported on soon after that the pair had registered their SussexRoyal trademark.

Since then, the licensing industry has been awash with speculation over what, indeed if any, plans were soon to be revealed for the celebrity pair’s entry into licensing, who would take on the task of representing it, and would this increase the chances of bumping into Prince Harry in Las Vegas this year… 

Answers are still to be sought. However, the musings have certainly stirred up plenty by way of industry opinion. Here, Spreadshirt CEO, Philip Rooke voices his own take on SussexRoyal and what Harry, Meghan, and their potential merchandising plans will have to consider in order to be successful.

Are Harry and Meghan going in to merchandising? They have certainly taken the first steps to register their SussexRoyal trademark. Their combined royalty and celebrity will generate a lot of interest, but what do they need to consider to get it right?

As we know, behind every successful merch campaign sits a brilliant brand. SussexRoyal could help to make Harry and Meghan financially independent, but they’ll have to do some serious work on what the brand truly is. They’ll need to think about what they have to say, finding their space (between vanity-wear and Harry’s father’s Duchy brands), and sustainability.

As Europe’s biggest merch firm, we have three top tips for the SussexRoyals.

Beware: Follower count doesn’t always equal sales

Trademarking your logo and being popular doesn’t automatically drive sales. @Arii, an Instagram star with 2.6m followers, recently failed to sell 36 t-shirts. Successful social media influencers can be brands with a niche offering, not just a huge follower count.  Brands that understand their fans and offer them something specific and relevant are the most successful.  Our highest commission earners can generate as much as €½m to €1m a year, but this takes a relevant idea and hard work.

Have something relevant to say

If you want to merchandise your fame, like a band or a social media influencer, you have to have something to say. The SussexRoyals have already championed key causes and created an authentic message which resonates. Merch can be an incredible way promote a worthy cause. It connects the online and offline worlds, spreading the word about your cause in real life. Our small, but highly vocal, influencers sell because their merchandising is something the consumer wants to wear.

Know where you sit in the market

SussexRoyal will need to find its own space. Vanity-wear hoodies in the style of college or university sweatshirts will sell, but is unlikely to reflect their brand image. Are they really going down the route of monogrammed socks and Harry & Meghan t-shirts? They really need to find some merch and designs which reflect their personalities and positions.

Perhaps they can emulate the Duchy? At the other end of the brand scale, Harry’s father has already carved out a space in the organic food sector with his Duchy of Cornwall brands. SussexRoyal probably needs to avoid duplicating this, if only to preserve family relations!

Will they be mimicking Victoria Beckham? She opted for a high-fashion position over merch. This can be time-consuming though. Despite fame as a Spice Girl, VB took a decade to build her fashion brand and needed significant investment.

And one last thing…  Harry and Meghan are campaigners for sustainability, but merchandising has complex supply chains. It can be a challenge to deliver successful merch and they’ll need to be alive to the potential pitfalls. Harry and Meghan will need to consider the sustainability of the SussexRoyal brand; from the provenance of the cotton to the delivery vehicles and packaging of the merch. Production and delivery are the corner stones of successful merchandising.

A new life awaits Harry and Meghan in Canada. They have a world-recognised brand and something to say. Perhaps merch could merch be the making of them?

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 some six 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@bizmedia.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobHutchins3 if ranting is your thing...

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