Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, March 4, 2002
They're climbing out of the woodwork!
They are the seemingly hundreds — but more realistically dozens — of new licensed product programs that are supposed to make consumers dash into stores to buy yet another sheet, towel, comforter or whatever widget.
From the sounds of things prior to April market, it's beginning to feel as though we'll be going through one huge licensed product arena. And it's not even time for this year's licensing show.
What appears to be happening is an epidemic as licensors or the guiding spirits that create the properties see an image problem that centers on differentiating both retailers and suppliers. The result appears to be a mass flow to licensing in an attempt to get consumers' attention.
Just to pay a licensing fee and not do anything to support it is truly throwing money away. And for the licensor, to participate in a so-called program of this type is valueless.
What is even more interesting is the divergence between product categories in the home — and how the licensors look at the opportunities for development of their brands or names.
Unfortunately, the situation is just that. An opportunity for a quick fix and a quick buck — a brand or name are rushed into one product category without a sense of relationship with another. The divergence between home textiles and furniture, for example, is a key case in point.
For many, there is an extraordinary level of confusion between brand and name. And many don't realize, especially at the retail level, that they have a brand that needs to be treasured, polished and enhanced — constantly.
Related to, but not a specific part of the home textiles world, Leslie Fishbein of Kacey's Fine Furniture in Denver pointed out at the recent AFMA Marketing Decision conference that there are some horror stories in licensing for furniture.
What she understands — and what many others do not — is the differentiation between a brand and a label, and a brand awareness and a brand preference.
Next month, all the "name programs" really need to be looked at from every angle. Otherwise, consumers will have yet another reason not to buy home textiles, except on a commodity price basis.
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