How are you finding the licensing business in your territory?
The pandemic drastically changed the licensing landscape which used to be driven by big movie releases. With cinemas being closed for so long licensees have had to look for other options, whether it was with non-blockbuster IPs or without. We have also seen a rise of “Made in France” products which have gained popularity and have become a true selling point at retail.
Sustainability is also very important for French consumers who do not want to buy too much plastic and want to be respectful of the planet. There is a trend in the toy and games sector for more eco-friendly products and packaging; we also see this trend in other categories such as apparel. In fact, there is a new law in France banning any plastic premiums in kids’ menus offered by fast food restaurants. This has led to much nicer and more creative premiums, mostly paper-based products.
As far as Chefclub is concerned, business is doing very well but licensees are becoming more selective and negotiations are taking longer than before. However, the scope of the deals are bigger and there is lots of potential linking our media capacities to our licensing deals. The recent growth of our content portfolio is also creating new business opportunities which is very exciting.
Has Brexit affected your business in any way? If so, how?
Not for the moment as we are just starting to develop our activity in the UK We are now organized and can deliver our costumers within five business days maximum.
Supply chain issues because of Brexit and the conflict in Ukraine have become more difficult. Is this impacting on your business?
Yes, for sure. Supply chain issues are affecting our licensees and our own in-house products as some of them are produced in Asia. It has caused delays and therefore we have had to take into consideration longer development timframes. In the end, it will also have an impact on the overall cost of goods. We as licensors, along with our licensees, have had to make decisions to postpone the release or development of certain products as the cost of the goods became too high to stay competitive.
Which product categories are key to your market? Are there any new product categories that are emerging or you can see will emerge in the near future?
For us, both publishing and cooking utensils that parallel our video content are very important because they provide another level of involvement for our fans with our brand. Cookbooks, magazines, measuring cups, pots and pans allow our customers to get cooking and have fun recreating our original recipes at home. The next emerging area we are really excited about is live events and promotions which will engage our customers in the entertainment aspects of our brand even more. Our upcoming partnership with Klepierre Shopping Mall, which will host a live tour of Chefclub events around France, is a perfect example. It will allow visitors to have an immersive family experience with cooking competitions, fun quiz games and an Instapoint where people can take photos and share them on social media. Experiential marketing is a key element of our brand-building and we are looking for more partnerships in this area.
We have also been very successful with our Chefclub Kids brands and would like to extend into toy and games, food and beverage as well as promotion categories – not to mention our new animated series launching at Mipcom, based on our super popular Chefclub Kids mascots.
How do you see the future of licensing in your territory? What growth opportunities can you see? Are there aspects of licensing in your territory that are unique to your country?
The uncertainty due to the Ukrainian conflict and the rise of the cost of energy and goods are not very positive and will certainly impact the buying power of families in the near future, so it will be interesting to see how Christmas sales will go this year. On the positive side, after a four-year decline in the birth rate, it has started to stabilize which is encouraging for the kids’ licensing sector in the future.
Overall, we find the same big brands in the French market as in most other strong licensing territories like Paw Patrol, Lego or Peppa Pig for young kids, to Happy Potter, Pokemon and Nike for older consumers. But one of the particularities of our market is that we do have very strong evergreen French brands which also appear in the Top Ten favorite brand charts such as Asterix or Tchoupi for example. We also have a very strong comics and manga culture and France is the second biggest country after Japan for manga sales. Last year the manga market more than doubled. We see a rising interest for manga or webtoon characters and this market is very dynamic.
Football (soccer) is also a national sport and competitions are widely followed by a transgenerational audience. Licensed products with football teams or players are very popular and explode when the team or the players are winning big competitions.