Five ways to spot a merchandise-friendly app

Find out what makes certain apps ideal for licensing.
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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 steve.reece@vicientertainment.co.uk.

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 simon@atnewmedia.com.

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