By Vicki Matranga
Design Programs Coordinator
Informing Innovation: An Interview with Jessica Blue, Advanstar and Stu Seltzer, Seltzer Licensing
Jessica Blue is vice president of Licensing Expo, which is owned by UBM Advanstar. She is responsible for the strategic planning, growth, sales and day-to-day management of the annual Licensing Expo. Now in its 35th year, Licensing Expo is the world’s largest and most influential annual trade show dedicated to licensing and brand extension. Stu Seltzer is president of Seltzer Licensing, based in New York.
Jessica and Stu, what is the most exciting or rewarding part of your work? What fuels your inspiration?
Licensing is constantly evolving and that makes it fun and exciting. We’re learning about new developments in licensing and brand extension all the time as well as the pop culture trends that are influencing the industry. It is inspiring to watching new intellectual properties become successful brands over time. Seeing the finished product in the stores and knowing that the conversation about that product/brand partnership started at the Licensing Expo is what I enjoy most.
In the past few years, what has changed most in your business? How has your company met these challenges in the way you do your work?
We are in the licensing business which is constantly evolving. About 60% of the licensing business is driven by character and entertainment licensing and the entertainment industry is undergoing some major changes. As consumers, we have so many options for viewing our favorite content – the smartphone has changed everything. This is the age of the vlogger and You Tube stars are commanding millions of subscribers and creating an emotional connection with their fans in a way that is very new and different. Authenticity is everything. YouTube has created a mechanism for international content creators to get the sought after distribution in the United States that was only available to them previously via terrestrial TV. This is a new area for licensing that is going to explode and we are watching it carefully. We launched a Digital Media Licensing Summit last year at Licensing Expo to discuss this and what it means for the licensing industry. It was attended by more than 500 people and we will evolve the content for Licensing Expo 2016. There are other changes afoot such as the impact of 3D printing and we will have a 3D printing pavilion at Licensing Expo 2016 to showcase this.
Why did you choose to speak at the International Home + Housewares Show?
Three years ago we started a collaboration between Licensing Expo and the Housewares Show. We felt that the Housewares Show was for our exhibitors (licensors/brand owners) to attend. When brand owners who exhibit at Licensing Expo attend the International Home + Housewares Show, they are inspired by the latest consumer trends and product development in dining, design, décor and kitchenware. For brands looking to extend their presence in the home, they can then attend Licensing Expo and meet the manufacturers and retailers who can bring that plan to life. We cross-promote our respective events via direct marketing, editorial and co-hosted seminars.
Tell us what you will be speaking about and how and this topic is important for Show audiences.
We will be giving an overview of how brand licensing works and some of the different ways you can go about it. All retailers and manufacturers should be aware of how licensing can grow/change their business. We will also give some case studies of licensing programs and how they have worked in the real world.
Lakeside Center, Room E350
March 7, Monday 11:30 am – 12:20 pm
What are some of today’s trends or issues that new product development professionals and/or retailers face in the housewares market?
Consumers rely on brands that they trust, that have brand equity and that they can connect with emotionally. That’s why licensing works so well for the licensor (who owns the brand), the licensee (who licenses the brand for their product range) and the retailer (who will buy the product from the licensee and sell it to the consumer). Retailers want to differentiate themselves from their competition and to be able to offer exclusive products to their customers. Licensing can help retailers to create differentiation.
Thank you, Jessica and Stu, for previewing your presentation for us. Licensed branded merchandise is important for many age groups and product categories. Anyone who spends time with children and young people knows how important licensed merchandise is for connecting consumers with trending popular culture. Urban sophisticates and older consumers also look for licensed products they can trust. We look forward to learning how to get such products to market—at your presentation on Monday March 7 at 11:30 am in the Innovation Theater.
To learn more about the Licensing Expo, see www.licensingexpo.com or contact Jessica Blue or Stu Seltzer.
Vice President, Licensing Expo
2450 Colorado Avenue, Suite 300 East
Santa Monica, CA 90404
1180 Avenue of the Americas, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10036
The four days of the 2016 International Home + Housewares Show will be packed with events and education. To help you plan your valuable time at the Show, we introduce you to the speakers and the 21 presentations that will take place in the Innovation Theater in the Lakeside Center. Don’t miss the chance to meet the experts in person and for the opportunity to ask questions for insights that you can apply to your work. All programs are audio-recorded and will be available on www.housewares.org after the Show.