Yearly Archive: 2011

RTR Rising!

The Q&A and sidebar discussions after my presentation at last month’s LIMA Retail & Brand conference in New York showed that the future of DTR (direct-to-retail) brand deals is a burning issue in the licensing community – and for good reason. “DTRs” not only diminish or, in some cases, eliminate the role of licensees, they often favor pure brand marketing

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A Talk With HSN’s Bill Brand

At last week’s LIMA Retail and Branding Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Brand, EVP of Programming, Marketing and Business Development at HSN. In his presentation, Mr. Brand provided compelling insights into how HSN has built an enviable level of engagement that has transformed the retailer into a true lifestyle network. Following the event, I had the opportunity

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Storytelling at forefront of LIMA Conference

One of the most striking themes running through this month’s LIMA Retail & Branding Conference was the importance of storytelling in building a strong brand. Whether it’s the positioning of Iconix’ Material Girl fast fashion juniors brand at Macy’s around Madonna’s 14-year-old daughter Lola, or the attempted reinvention of Kmart’s apparel and home business as KmartDesign, or the development of

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Retail’s Brand Decision Transition

Brand integrity is always top of mind in retail, and is usually associated with brand protection, guarding against counterfeiting and trouble-shooting reputation taints (or leveraging them as a PR stunt, as Abercrombie and Fitch did by offering Jersey Shore’s Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino dough for ditching its duds). As retailers build up their internal brand teams, staffing them with rock

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Who’s Next?

Back in 2009, I wrote an article in which I lamented retailers’ then-current obsession with clutter clearing and other “retail rehab” measures. I questioned whether they would have achieved their ideal once the majority of their stores were remodeled, cleaned up, and optimized, or whether their customers would simply let out a collective “meh.” In my last article for LIMA,

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Is the world’s business unfairly distorted by credit reference agencies?

As the financial markets are plunged into further sessions of turmoil, I’m wondering whether it’s time to call a halt to the credit reference agencies. Consumer confidence is a delicate beast, and yet in our industry, like many others, we are dependent on it for most of our livelihood. I’m no economist, but the thousands of hours of TV and

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Retailers’ Weapons of Mass Engagement

Over the past several years, retailers have had to adapt to new rules of engagement. Their customers are at once empowered, demanding, skeptical, and value-oriented, and they are flocking to social networks, online forums, blogs, and digital apps to satisfy their hunger for objective guidance and entertainment. In order to stay on their customers’ radars, retailers have had to shift

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Lost in a crowd?

Oh, the licensee’s dilemma, as portrayed not by a business writer, but rather by the film critic of the Washington Post, Ann Hornaday, in her review of “Captain America, First Avenger.” How does one figure out — 18 months or so in advance — what’s going to be able to maintain mindshare in a teenage audience, and prime shelf space

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When brands get separated from their origins

What is brand identity? Several years ago, I participated in a licensing conference at which one of the speakers ruminated on how brand names that once derived their equity from their origins have in some cases become so distant from their roots as to be unrecognizable. The example he used was the Amana brand of major appliances, which once was

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“Proto-ships” Set to Sail

Flagship stores tend to be characterized by cutting-edge creativity, soup-to-nuts assortments, and wow-factor fripperies that reinforce the brand like nothing else can. That’s why they will remain an irresistible option for retailers, even as they shift toward small formats in order to build scale. Manhattan remains a flagship mecca for retailers such as Aeropostale, with its two-level Broadway location featuring

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