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One Size Doesn't Fit All

AMONG THE EARLY vibes coming out of last week's High Point (N.C.) Market was that the folks in furnitureland were being inundated once again by a new crop of licensors for their products.
     Some are familiar names and products - yes, in some instances too familiar. Others evoke a who? what? reaction from bystanders - many of whom have decades long experience in the wonderous world of licensing.

     "There is instance after instance of major success of a license in one product and major disappointment of the same license in a closely related soft home segment."

     One of the interesting aspects of licensing for the home arena is that the licensors still have not been able figure out that a license in furniture may not be logically transferrable to other home arenas - or vice versa.
     Even on the soft side of home furnishings, there is instance after instance of major success of a license in one product and major disappointment of the same license in a closely related soft home segment.
     And, of course, a number of the licensors already established on the soft side were walking the halls of High Point seeking out new opportunities not just in furniture but gifts and lighting.
     For many on either side of the equation, this is an exercise that won't pay out.
     The main reason is the vast difference in distribution for each segment of the business. It's hard to equate a Bed Bath & Beyond or Kohl's distribution of bed and bath with a "name" and a Mom ‘n' Pop furniture store in Peoria with the same "name" for the furniture segment.
     For some licensors, tackling each segment separately could well be part of the answer. A case in point - a feature last week with Donald Trump in The New York Times highlighting his new "crystal" (not "glassware") program. Nowhere did it discuss the furniture, lighting or brand new decorative and basic bedding programs. It certainly has to stimulate consumer interest with "The Donald" being interviewed. And it probably will stimulate interest for the other products if consumers research the website.
     The Cindy Crawford program of home furnishings at JCPenney that now has morphed into non-home areas like jewelry, is another example of how different segments of a "name" can be marketed separately. While a few JCPenney stores with the licensor's furniture, Cindy Crawford has been a fairly long-term program at furniture retail giant Rooms to Go and some of its regional retail furniture partners such as Raymour & Flanigan and Art Van.
     Hopefully there will be a growing understanding on the part of licensors about the differences between the distribution of merchandise - albeit generically home furnishings. It's definitely not a one-size-fits-all business.

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