What has response been like to the Merchmaker platform?
The response has been incredibly positive. Our print-on-demand model means that we hold no stock and avoid creating any unnecessary waste – and retailers love it. Many big retailers are now adding print on demand and personalisation as a key focus to their strategy going forward.
We launched our Create Your Own site with the Entertainer this September selling personalised apparel and accessories across our portfolio of brands. We've had great success to date via this channel and will be adding to the range of products and brands via Create Your Own in 2018.
Currently, we have more than 20 brands on board, and we’re expanding it further. Through Merchmaker and via our network of partners, we are working with an array of top brands, including Nickelodeon, Mattel, WWE and a number of Premier League football clubs.
Why is personalisation like this such a hot trend with consumers at the moment?
People love to feel special, and name personalisation is a perfect way to make people feel that way. The way we market to people is becoming more and more personalised. Brands try to tailor their marketing communications to personalise a customer’s brand experience to their preferences. If somebody’s brand experience can be personalised to fit them, then why not personalise their product?
Some of the largest brands in the world have tried it and seen huge success with it. For example, Coca Cola’s Share a Coke campaign started in Australia and became a global success. Sportswear companies such as Nike and Adidas have seen huge success with their name initial personalised trainers.
When you give a consumer a name personalised products that has been custom printed for them, the product is suddenly meant for them and them only. They are able to share something special with their brand, speak to the brand on eye level and form a relationship that is unique to them.
Our personalisation offers the consumer the chance to put a piece of themselves on their favourite brand merchandise while keeping the product official. They are no longer picking up just a copy of a product that is available to millions of other people, but receiving a product that was meant for them specifically.
How well does it work at retail?
As well as being desirable for the consumer, the print on demand model is also extremely appealing for both retailers and licensors for a number of reasons. For example our speed to market; POD as a business model and how it can increase the speed of product to market is currently a major focus for the retail industry and the Evode Group is a key player in developing this business across the world.
We can launch products in real time to capitalise on key trends or for one off events.
As all products only exist virtually until an item is purchased, there is also no risk for retailers as they don’t have to commit to shelf space or warehousing. This means that they can trial new or niche brands giving fans a far greater choice of brands and products. They’ll also never be out of stock as the POD model means we can always cope with demand.
Are you looking to expand the retail base you work with as you sign new licenses?
Retailers are now recognising that the need to increase their speed to market, offer a wider choice of brands and products and providing personalisation as an option is extremely important to consumers and as a leader in the POD demand business we are now set to launch with several new retailers and content publishers in 2018 across the UK, USA, China and South East Asia.
We will also be adding to our brand portfolio by acquiring new licenses when we have an appropriate retailer or content publisher to sell their products via. A retailer may also ask for a specific brand, genre, age demo and we will endeavour to acquire the license to meet that demand.
How does the popularity of Merchmaker reflect the overall licensing sector? What do you think the future has in store for consumer products?
The print on demand business is certainly a key focus for retailers going forward and with online sales increasing each year, our model allows retailers to offer their consumers an infinite amount of products across a significant number of brands.
Our speed to market is also key – we want to make retail as quick as social media in the digital world.
Our model means that licensors can trial new and emerging brands or test artwork and then potentially roll out to the rest of the licensing programme. We can also open up new retail channels for brands as retailers are able to trial as many products as they like without having to give up shelf space or incur warehouse costs.
Proof that the POD business is growing in popularity is the other on demand business that are currently booming – e.g. Uber and Air B&B – as they can react quicker and expand their reach to consumers beyond what other companies are doing.