By David Gill
Brands have proven to be among the most valuable assets in consumer-products businesses—and housewares vendors have found that licensing these coveted possessions to other manufacturers has borne fruit for them in several ways.
Vendors such as Electrolux, Jarden, Cuisinart, KitchenAid and Homer Laughlin China Co. (manufacturer of Fiesta ware) have formed license agreements with a number of manufacturers, which have extended their brands into products beyond their core lines. The licensing strategy has been particularly fruitful for Electrolux and Jarden, both of which have accumulated whole platoons of brands in their core product lines which can be farmed out to licensees in other categories.
Clearly, given the nature of licensing, these deals have produced extra revenue for these vendors in the form of royalties. But they have had other positive effects as well. “As a global company, Electrolux benefits enormously from its portfolio of brands, and leverages them in tandem with its manufactured products to broaden its offerings and increase brand awareness,” said Matt Young, director of global brand licensing for the Sweden-based housewares giant.
Electrolux’s licenses include small appliances under the Frigidaire, AEG and Philco names; and kitchen utensils, cutlery, bed linens and glassware under the Arthur Martin, Zanussi, Parkinson Cowan and Zoppas labels. All of these products are currently sold in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.
Jarden has licensed its panoply of brands into categories such as coffee accessories, compact refrigerators, microwaves, floor-care products, cookware, bakeware, dinnerware, flatware, cutlery, kitchen tools and gadgets, barware, scales, kitchen-organization products, barbecues and barbecue accessories, among others. Like Electrolux, the licensed merchandise is sold throughout the world.
The company’s licensing efforts have heightened consumers’ awareness of these brands and reinforced their brand proposition, according to Carlos Coroalles, Jarden’s vice president of licensing. “Licensing is a means to market which extends brands into related categories where consumers expect us to be,” Coroalles said. “Our licensed products provide a seamless consumer experience that supports each of our brands’ value proposition and enhances the brand’s perception.”
Part of the added value to brands that licensing provides is in extending the brands’ reach into products that underscore the brand’s mission. This is particularly the case for
KitchenAid, which has elevated its standing as a small-appliance label through its resolute focus on food preparation and cooking. “Our licensing business model enables us to offer a wide breadth of ‘unplugged’ kitchen tools that complement our appliances,” said Greg Raklovits, senior category manager for KitchenAid.
KitchenAid’s current licensing partners include Meyer Corp. for cookware, kettles, bakeware and roasters; Lifetime Brands for cutlery, cutting boards, kitchen shears, kitchen gadgets, sinkware and barbecue tools; Town & Country Living for kitchen textiles; and Publications International for cookbooks. “Our licensees understand the quality that consumers expect from the KitchenAid brand,” Raklovits said.
Broadening the brand’s value proposition is also the focus for Cuisinart in its licensing efforts. “Cuisinart’s main goal is to provide consumers with outstanding kitchen electrics and non-electrics,” said Mary Rodgers, the brand’s director of marketing communications. “By working with licensing companies or other brands that share our commitment to quality and innovation, we are able to provide our customers with an even broader array of products.”
Along with extending a brand into complementary merchandise, licensing helps a brand establish its meaning with consumers, according to Rich Brinkman, vice president of retail sales and marketing for Homer Laughlin. Defining Fiesta as a lifestyle brand has been a goal of the company, and licensing helps to give the Fiesta name that orientation, so that it becomes known for more than just dinnerware.
“The more you become a lifestyle, the more you become a destination for the consumer,” Brinkman said. He added that the company puts a lot of thought into color (to the tune of announcing one new color each year), and licensing the Fiesta name beyond dinnerware enables consumers to see more mix-and-match possibilities and color combinations—and thus, prompts them to buy more than four place settings of dinnerware. “I press very hard for my retailers to make a lifestyle presentation, and it works,” Brinkman said. “You have to have a point of view to make an impact, and licensing does that.”
At this time, Fiesta’s licensees include Cambridge Silversmiths for flatware and cutlery; Tervis for plastic drinkware; The Cookware Co. for ceramic, non-stick cookware and cast-iron cookware; and Modern Glass for decorated glass drinkware (which uses Libbey blanks).
Given the success that these vendors have had with their licenses thus far, it’s no surprise that other licenses could be in the offing for all of them. Echoing what other brands are saying about future collaborations, Rodgers said, “We are always exploring new opportunities and are open to partnerships that provide a good fit for our business goals and that serve our customer base.”
Electrolux would like to expand the geographic reach of its licensing into the Western Hemisphere. The company “has begun a selective campaign to make key North American companies aware of its readiness to work with solid organizations who share its values of quality and green sustainability,” Young said.
The company has even run print advertising that has signaled its eagerness for license partners. Housewares and home furnishings continue to be logical extensions for Electrolux’s brands, Young said, but the company is also looking at licenses in the categories of “green” energy, lighting, outdoor and heating products.
In terms of adding other license partners, the more the merrier, in Brinkman’s view. “You can’t have too many licenses at retail if the licensing approach is done correctly,” he said. He added that a brand has to be cultivated, and that the license has to make sense to the consumer: “It has to be a wanted product in the category when it gets out there.”