LBE and Beauty at BLE
As location-based entertainment (LBE) continues to expand, creating experiences that match consumer sentiment about a brand will be critical, licensing executives said at Brand Licensing Europe (BLE).
“There’s a core change in generational behavior happening right now,” said Matt Proulx, VP of LBE at Hasbro, during a keynote examining the company’s Monopoly Lifesized experience with The Path Entertainment Group. “It’s an experience economy. People want to share these experiences with their communities, and the price-to-value changes because of the emotional connection.”
LBE is something of a digital antidote, according to Gary Pope, co-founder of the marketing and research agency Kids Industries, during the panel LBE: How to Master the Experience Economy. As a result, executives suggested success moving forward will be less about implementing the newest technologies and more about developing experiences that bring to life the way consumers perceive—and ultimately feel about— a brand.
“Today’s generation has realized the value of memory rather than a commodity,” Pope said. That means the key to boosting the business will be developing LBEs that generate emotional connections capable of extending a brand beyond its loyal followers to a wider, uninitiated audience.
That emotional connection will also help ward off the vagaries of a fickle consumer market. At a time when consumers are tightening their spending in response to inflation and high interest rates, creating a memorable experience will be paramount.
“The memory is the most powerful thing a family can have,” said Pope. “No cost-of-living crisis can take that away.”
Those qualities—memory and emotion—are coming into play in an ever-growing array of branded LBE offerings.
For example, Path Entertainment—which launched Monopoly Lifesized two years ago—recently extended its agreement with Hasbro to launch an immersive experience based on the board game Clue, a version of which is set to open 2024. Additionally, Path has partnered with The Al Hokair Group to bring Monopoly Lifesized to Saudi Arabia. Mattel licensee Bakehouse Factory opened Barbie You Can Be Anything: The Experience in Meadowhall Shopping Center in Sheffield, UK. Aardman Entertainment has licensed SGA Productions for a new Wallace & Grommit live show on P&O Cruises’ new Arvia ship, while Locked in a Room has developed a Wallace & Gromit escape room in Bristol, UK.
In addition to location-based entertainment, there was a significant focus on health and beauty at BLE.
It’s a category that allows consumers to be experimental due to its disposable nature, said Thea Green, Founder of Nails.INC, in her keynote. In addition to encouraging risks, Green described beauty products as the more affordable little sister to fashion apparel—a crucial factor considering many consumers are cutting back on spending.
The playful nature of the health and beauty category also allows for unlikely pairings that can gain popularity and brand exposure on social media. Nails.INC, for example, licensed Kraft Heinz’s Velveeta brand for cheese-scented nail polish, a deal that went viral and ultimately opened a path to other agreements, Green said.
“Beauty customers like different and surprising, and retailers like it too,” Green said. “Licensing is a key marketing strategy for us.”