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Why Key Licensing Categories Can Boost the Buy Local Revolution image

Why Key Licensing Categories Can Boost the Buy Local Revolution

By Will Stewart
Managing Director
The Point 1888

It’s taken a global pandemic to really move the needle with regards to consumers once again buying local, buying small, and supporting their local community.  There have been so many campaigns to drive local spending, and thinking of small companies first, but the trend has only been one way for decades.

Suddenly the pendulum has bounced hugely back to local, and the licensing industry can help drive that change.

I feel gutted for Pret a Manger, Starbucks et al who are losing business – they employ lots of young people of course.  BUT – if they are suffering because my local, family owned coffee shop (Woodys) and bakery (Woodlands Bakery) are flourishing then I am not too despondent about this latest revolution.

Some of the areas that have traded quite buoyantly throughout lockdown are gifts, greetings cards and homeware.  I guess mainly because spending lots of time locked in with your loved ones has brought out the best in people (more time and thought into gift buying) and also reminded them that their home is due some attention.

With no commute, there are a lot of people (those that have clung onto their jobs) who have saved time and money this summer.  They have probably learned to realise the importance of the important people in their lives.  They have been supported by their loved ones.  They have decided to up their budget on that birthday gift because they certainly are not going to be out dancing and drinking to celebrate with them.

One of the hardest hit sectors of the retail industry over the last few decades of depressed local spending is the independent gift and home store.

Often these are beautiful oases of calm in a local high street now dominated by charity shops and takeaway food establishments.  They are a real labour of love for their often local, family owners.  If you buy something you will probably be served by the founder.

Start a conversation with them next time you are in – you won’t regret it.  You will realise the human behind the business and inevitably feel a responsibility to support them in their dream.  They deserve huge respect because at some point they quit their mundane day job, threw the dice and had the drive to open their own business.

It cost them too, rent, utilities, fixtures, decoration, stock, payment systems, staff, etc.  It was a high risk play and an incredibly tough business model to make profitable.

The main selling categories in these shops tend to be greetings cards, homeware bits and pieces (candles, picture frames, accessories, flowers) and gifting (jewellery, ceramics, fragrance, composite gifts, food gifts, etc).

Most of these shops sell branded and over index on licensed branded products.

The Licensing industry creates some of the most successful and stunning partnerships in the home and gift market.  It also contributes unbelievable value to the greetings card market.  Simply by being awesome and doing what we do best we can help contribute to the future of these wonderful ‘mom and pop’ stores.

I’m a big fan of licensing for good.  We can collectively focus more on the indies sector by engaging with the right distributors and the AIS.  We can help save thousands of wonderful, beautiful shops if we just change our priorities for placement.

And as consumers we can focus on shopping and buying locally.  Even online we can stop being lazy and buying everything from Amazon.  We can search locally on any map app and find a local and likely small partner to spend our hard earned cash with.

If there can only be one major positive out of Covid 19 – buying locally, from local people to support the local community – then I’d take that.

Let’s do this.

Will Stewart founded The Point.1888 in 2014 on a mission to revolutionize the brand licensing industry and create a true #lifework balance for his team. Pioneering a retail-first model, which means his agency creates new products based on the gaps it sees at retail rather than what it thinks the brand’s target demographic might like, Will has developed The Point.1888 into an award-winning, fast-growing business with an enviable list of clients.

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