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3:04 PM   April 17, 2014
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Recognize This?

Licensed pet products capture the popularity of current and classical favorites.
By LaRue Palmer


Courtesy of Planet Pets, Inc.

Recent product licensing trends in the pet industry have centered on a select few categories that have enjoyed financial success and boosted incremental sales. Numerous independent artists license their work to manufacturers for the purpose of putting it on pet clothing or merchandise.

One of the most popular categories for these products today is that of licensed sports gear. Another popular trend has been cartoonish and animated images, such as those seen in popular films by Pixar or Disney.

Perhaps the best time of year to see the selling power of licensed pet apparel is during the Halloween season, when companies pull out the stops to get their products on the market for their share of the annual profit-taking. Whatever the hot product or image of the moment, retailers scramble to meet the demand of the most anticipated characters of the year because many of these have short lives.

Jeffrey Wiseman, vice president of marketing and business development for Costume Craze, says 75 percent to 85 percent of the company’s business is done in October, even though the company operates year round.

“We often sell about 100 to 200 costumes a day, but we really have to prepare for the Halloween season,” he says. “We take advance orders as early as July in preparation for Halloween. It’s a niche market for sure.”

Hot trends come and go, so retailers must watch them closely. 

Steve Rieder, president of Kool Tees in Deer Park, N.Y., knows all too well the volatility of the market and how quickly trends change.

“I’ve seen so many trends come and go, so you’ve got to track your sales on certain items,” he says. “Watch out for that last big reorder.

If sales start to drop off, don’t get caught with a ton of inventory you have to mark down to move; you’ll lose money. You’ve got to know when to get out.”

More recently the trend toward licensed pet products has shifted to traditional brands that have a strong recognition factor and sentimental value attached to them. In that sense it isn’t a trend at all, but more of a market share among reputable brands.

A large part of the pet industry is an impulse-buying market. Pet toys, clothing and accessories have to compete with food, gas, medical and other essentials, so manufacturers of licensed products have to work hard to break through.

According to Eric Zeiner, director of marketing for Jakks Pacific Inc., a Malibu, Calif.-based company that offers licensed pet products, the core consumer demographic is female, 25 to 35 years of age, upper middle class, well-educated and likely to dress themselves and possibly their pets in trendy clothes. These demographics were revealed in an independent survey conducted by the company.

Traditionally, licensed goods are more expensive, so pet retailers can consult with potential manufacturers to find out what manufacturers can do to help drive business into their stores or traffic to their websites.

“Retailers should not just buy a product from a distributor or manufacturer and expect to do all the work themselves, but really use those manufacturers and distributors as partners in marketing their goods,” Zeiner says. “Often times they have a huge wealth of ability to drive online and walk-in traffic, and it’s really critical for retailers to ask the right questions. They’d be surprised at what’s available.” <HOME>


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