When Do You Present Santa Art to Manufacturers?

4 02 2010

A client asked me the other day, why it seems that manufacturers are always reviewing holiday designs and there is no longer a specific time of year when licensees are making decisions on Christmas art? While all product industries work on different decision making schedules and deadlines for Holiday art, it is still not as clear cut as it once was. One of the biggest factors is because we now have two behemoth and hugely different types of retail marketplaces, the brick-and-mortar store locations and online eCommerce, which are on drastically different time tables.

Remember the fact that as licensors, manufacturers are your primary target audience and the focus of your sales efforts. While, of course, the end-user for your art and the products is ultimately the consumer. And what stands between the manufacturer and the consumer? Well, the all-powerful retailer. These gatekeepers can open or shut the door, to allow or prevent your products from getting to market. And the only way to play in the art licensing, or any licensing arena, is to appeal to the retailers through the manufacturers. They are the ones who must be convinced that the consumers will love and purchase your art on product.

My point here is to emphasize, once again, the importance of exploring and understanding elements of the retail marketplace in order to build a viable art licensing business. It affects everything from when to create new collections and what themes to focus on, to how you schedule your sales efforts to manufacturers in various product industries.

I’d like to recommend a couple of great websites that will help with your retail education. While not every element of these sites will specifically relate to your art licensing business, there is plenty of information that does.

The National Retail Federation is a terrific organization and we’ve added them to our All Art Licensing Resources/Links and you may want to bookmark them as well. They have resources and research that is absolutely invaluable to your collection planning, such as the Seasonal Shopping Guide and the Holiday Spending Chart. Explore their site and I know you will find more. On their homepage, you can also sign up for a free daily email newsletter which provides the latest industry news and information.

To learn more about the growth and trends in eCommerce, check out www.shop.org who also offers a daily email blast on their homepage. I believe that with the speed at which online retail has taken hold, it is critical for us as licensors to understand the eCommerce big picture. Overall, think of the immediacy of the internet and what that means to the manufacturers who service these eTailers. As artists and licensors, you must create flexibility in your business to service the manufacturers who feed these distribution channels at a different pace than the traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

It’s so important to learn about the marketplace in which your art will be sold, such as understanding the types of distribution channels, their diverse needs, time frames and economic challenges. This knowledge will invariably help you service your customers better. So you might as well face it, someone will always be looking for Santa art!

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