Five ways to spot a merchandise-friendly app

Find out what makes certain apps ideal for licensing.
Publish date:
Social count:

You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed the massive merchandising success of Angry Birds.

But does this mean you can launch merchandise based on any downloadable app game and see it fly? Alas, no.

If you're an app owner and want to licence it out, or you're a licensee and want a powerful new app brand to work with, there are several fundamentals to consider:

1. Massive Metrics

If you just launched your app and have about seven downloads, it clearly won’t be credible for merchandising. Even if you have a couple of hundred thousand it is unlikely to particularly influence anyone.

You need to be talking about millions, and ideally tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions. Clearly only so many achieve these metrics, but if you expect big merchandising success without millions of app downloads – sorry, but experience suggests you’re probably dreaming.

2. Strong Brand Identity

If you have millions of downloads of a very generic style app, you will still struggle to find licensees. The reason why licensees pay to use brands is because there is strong brand awareness, which will help them sell more products. Without distrinctive and strong brand identity, you have next to no chance.

3. Characterisation

Characterisation is critical in many categories – not least of which would be toys, gaming and publishing, which drive a large percentage of the licensing opportunity. 

So in the same way you need a strong brand, you also need strong characters in order to translate your brand from the digital world to the physical world.

4. Apps with Existing Licensing Programs 

The first person to licence your brand takes the most risk – their investment will either pay back, or prove to be wasted if your brand does not translate into merchandise sales. 

But once you have your first licensee on board, you instantly become a less risky proposition for others.

5. Cross-promotion

Traditional media companies would kill (metaphorically, not actually, we hope) for access to the marketing opportunity offered by massively downloaded apps. 

How can you cross-promote merchandise within the app experience? Not sure? Well you need to figure it out, as this will make your Brand substantially more attractive as a commercial opportunity.

There are other factors, but consider these carefully before investing time, effort and money in a brand licensing program.

If you feel your app brand meets all five factors, or if you want to find app brands which do, feel free to drop us a line.

About the authors

Steve Reece is from Virtual World Licensing. This is a brand and licensing consultancy focused on helping online virtual world brands create licensing roadmaps and programs.

If you’re a brand owner who wants to find out more about how the firm can help you, or a potential licensee looking for online virtual world brands which have the ‘right stuff’ please get in touch. Email

AT New Media is an IP licensing specialist with a focus on the games business. You can visit the AT New Media website here or email CEO Simon Kay at

Read the original article here.

Want to receive up to the minute licensing industry news straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up for the free Daily Digest and Newsflash services. You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook.


6_Spot, 200x200.jpg


Since the original title launched in 1980, over 50 million Spot books have been sold. We take a look at the accompanying licensing programme.

Featured Jobs

Aardman Job Logo 620 x 349

Brand Manager (Maternity Cover)

Part of the brand team, The Brand Manager works closely with several members of the department, including Studio Publicist, Community Managers, Licensing, Sales and Attractions and Live Experiences teams to implement local and international strategies in the form of brand plans and maximising on all activity surrounding the properties.

Universal Job Logo 620 x 349

Senior Graphic Designer, EMEA - Consumer Products

Working in tandem with the Product Development team and reporting into the Design Manager EMEA, the purpose of this role is to drive forward our creativity across all licensed consumer products. As part of the creative team, you’ll be developing exceptional creative assets and product concepts for numerous NBCUniversal franchises that inspire licensing partners across the entire region.

SanrioJob Logo 620 x 349

Creative Manager

Best known for global icon Hello Kitty, Sanrio has a portfolio of more than 400 characters. We license a unique collection of branded gifts, stationery and fashion accessory items while collaborating with the most respected companies in the world. Our EMEA business coordinates the development licensing throughout Europe, Russia, Middle East, Africa, Asia (for Mr Men), Australia and New Zealand. An exciting, permanent opportunity has come up at our London office to lead our Design team as Creative Manager (m/f)

Vivid Job Logo 620 x 349

Digital Marketing Executive - Toys & Games

Vivid is Britain’s biggest toy company and the 20 largest in the world. With offices across the globe, they sell an amazing portfolio of toys and games to over 60 countries. Vivid is best known for its association with blockbuster brands and is very excited about future opportunities around the world.