What's keeping you awake at night?
We posed that question to top licensors, licensees, agencies and retailers last week as we made our rounds at the International Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. Studio execs, brand veterans and mega licensees weighed in and, after a bit of throat clearing, most told us they felt much better having shared!
Here are the top three answers, with a bit of additional color:
Maintaining positive relationships and staying front and center with Walmart was mentioned by just about everyone.
"I'm not sure our licensees will be able to take (our brand) to the next level at Walmart."
"Disney has a stranglehold."
"The licensors don't get Walmart."
"Walmart has changed the game."
"It's a must-win for us."
2. Going to the Source
Every licensor we spoke with said that they were either ramping up their existing direct-to-retail programs or they were planning on building out a direct-to-retail model (some shared that they are building these models "around" their licensees). Licensees were bringing higher-level team members to retailer meetings and increasing their hands-on involvement with their retail accounts.
"We're figuring out how to phase out our licensees or at least pare them down."
"I go on every meeting now. The stakes are too high and the account teams tell me what I want to hear instead of what I need to hear."
"We don't know as much about retailers as we should and we're fixing that."
3. Alignment and Coordination
The need for better coordination between all brand stakeholders came up constantly.
"We've made it too difficult for retailers to buy into our programs . . . too much complexity."
"Licensors need to plan their calendars around retailers instead of expecting retailers to follow theirs."
"Everyone has their own agendas."
"We need licensors and licensees to be on the same page BEFORE they get here." (retailer)
"Look, retailers are doing most of this for themselves so we need to pull it together. They've got options."
Beyond the top three, here are a few more interesting answers:
"Are you kidding? Licensing has kept me awake for twenty years . . . all the moving parts."
"Not enough good brands . . ."
"Going completely out of business . . . and I don't even need the money . . . and my business is good! It's all ego for me."
"Some disasterous thing happening . . . a huge recall or PR nightmare that kills off our brand."
"I don't know where retailers are going so I worry about what I don't know."
So what's keeping you awake at night? Share it here!