Retail Transformations, Trajectories and Treks on Tap at the 2012 Licensing Expo

Posted by Carol Spieckerman on May 29, 2012

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The 2012 Licensing International Expo is less than two weeks away and LIMA’s Licensing University line-up is stronger than ever, with sessions that span the spectrum from licensing fundamentals to forward-looking dynamics in digital branding, gamification and more. Kathy Ireland’s keynote on Tuesday, June 12th promises to bring terrific insight into how the former model built Kathy Ireland Worldwide into a $2 billion brand and licensing juggernaut. Look for my coverage of her presentation on the LIMA website after the show.

I’m excited to be kicking off the Expo once again with my State of Retail presentation and follow-up store safari on Sunday, June 9th. Many retailers are currently in the midst of major transformations and I’m looking forward to breaking down what it all means to the licensing community and to checking out a few of the transformations-in-progress on the tour. My presentation will provide a strategic retail overview and debut several of my fourth quarter 2012 and first quarter 2013 Retail TrajectoriesSM, along with corresponding positioning strategies for licensors, licensees and agencies.

This year, I’ve developed capsule presentations for the follow-up store safari visits to Staples, Lowe’s and J.C. Penney that will highlight each retailer’s store format, merchandising, branding, and pricing strategies. The spectrum of conversations and questions that pop up during the tour are always a highlight of the event and I’m looking forward to sharing ideas from multiple licensing perspectives throughout the day.

This year’s store safari choices will be diverse as the licensing community continues to branch out into new categories and look for insights from across the retail landscape.

  • J.C. Penney was part of the tour last year, when its ongoing series of proprietary brand launches and Mango and Sephora shop-in-shops were the top focus. Since that time, former Apple executive, Ron Johnson’s radical reinvention of the century-old department store has reached its early stages, so it will be fascinating to see how Penney’s “fair and square” pricing strategy, store layout renewal, and brand portfolio adjustments are taking shape.
  • Lowe’s debuted its “never stop improving” tagline late last year, bringing upgrades to its personalization strategies, omni-channel integration capabilities and in-store environments, including flexible merchandising schemes that showcase Lowe’s exclusive brands. Like Penney’s, Lowe’s is doubling down on clearly articulating its every day value proposition rather than relying on heavy promotions.
  • The competition in the office products channel continues to heat up as warehouse clubs, mass retailers and online powerhouses, such as Amazon, make market share grabs on the consumer and B2B fronts. Staples is standing out by leveraging services, solutions, and brand partnerships, such as its February launch of over 300-SKUs in multiple categories under the Martha Stewart brand. Staples is also the latest retailer to open a separate e-commerce innovation center, following Walmart’s launch of California-based @walmartlabs. After years of extreme centralization, retailers are opening up to the possibility that headquarters-based departments may not pack the same innovation punch that stand-alone satellite operations can. I’ll talk about retailers’ swings to decentralization in my presentation and reveal why it’s good news for the licensing community.