Stationery and Licensing - the latest trends

Stationery and licensing are experiencing a change as opposed to the world of traditional IPs as we know it. As with other merchandise categories, the industry’s attention is directed towards the major trends at the moment, which touch themes of great world importance as well as global phenomena. In addition to sustainability and influencers, the licensing market has an enormous impact on the stationery industry. 

The unicorn is still the flagship property for the young female target

Love for unicorns has not yet faded. Here, too, we are talking about characters who have always stimulated the imagination of girls all over the world, but in the last two years it has definitely exploded and has invaded every type of product for girls and boys, from clothing to school bags and up to paper products. It is unclear how long this phenomenon will still be on trending, but it will certainly continue to be a trend element for a long time. Unicorns have always been licensed or created by designers and illustrators for manufacturers who wanted to entrust themselves to unique styles for their products. From the legendary My Little Pony by Hasbro which is a great classic for children around the world, to the very nice Fluffy unicorn from Minions world. 

The world of properties inspired by unicorns also continues with Hello Kitty, who rides her unicorn with wings and horn, or one of the latest news on the American market, Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty, produced by the toy company Funrise: a new TV series for girls with a mix of everything that attracts the attention of the young female target, from cats to unicorns. 

Characters from video games are particularly popular for the male target

Still on the subject of animals, in the last period the unicorns have partnered with llamas and, at the height of its success, Fortnite's famous pink llama from Battle Royal was a must-have among boys, but not only! Today this property is still strong and attracts great attention among boys and the young generation. For this reason, products with the Fortnite Ilama should not be missing in stationery stores, to offer the perfect product range for boys.  

The impact of the big mergers among big majors in the licensing market 

From a licensing perspective, beyond the big trends of this time, the licensing market is experiencing a moment of drastic changes. The big majors are acquiring other majors, creating huge groups that contain properties that are very different from each other and then all undergo the same type of treatment. From Disney, who recently acquired Fox, after bringing the world of Marvel and LucasFilms into the house, to Warner Bros., which has just become Warner Media after the acquisition of Turner and, finally - last but not least - the billion-dollar acquisition of Eone by Hasbro, bringing My Little Pony and Peppa Pig under one roof, just to mention two global licensing icons. 

What will be the consequences of these acquisitions in the medium and long term? There are no great certainties, but two possible effects: on the one hand, a real risk of homogenisation of the offer of properties on the market; the main offer from the market will be concentrated in the hands of a few players. On the other hand, however, the real challenge is how to be innovative with the licensed products and how to organise unique experiences at the stores. 

How can a licensee make a difference when the offer is so concentrated? How can a retailer create a unique offer in his store if he risks imitating another retail? The answers could be found in two ways: the search for innovative products for the licensee, combining both properties from the greatest majors, but also looking for the boutique brands - iconic, original and distinguished. It is necessary for retailers to search for an exclusive relationship with the brand, whether deriving from the big groups or a niche brand, which makes the difference and creates new sales experiences to keep their audience continuously attracted to temporary phenomena.

About the author:

Licensing Magazine is the only licensing trade publication in Italy and one of the leading b-to-b magazines in Europe. Licensing Magazine is published by BM -  Italian leading company specialized on licensing.

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