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With Higher Profile Via Streaming Services, Anime Earning A Spot at Mass

With anime taking hold at mass merchants, characters and stories that once were relegated to specialty and niche distribution is moving into the mainstream.

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Anime T-shirts at Hot Topic

The shifting fortunes of anime are being driven by the increasing availability of content through streaming services, TV and mobile devices and the sheer volume that is being produced. For example, Ellation’s Crunchyroll streaming service has doubled its number of paid subscribers in a little over a year to two million and releases 250-300 new series annually. That’s in addition to Funimation, which formally parted last week with Crunchyroll on a content-sharing agreement to focus on its own FunimationNow streaming service. The change follows Funimation’s acquisition by Sony Pictures Television last year. Adult Swim also has an evening block of anime. 

That kind of expansion hasn’t gone unnoticed. While specialty retailers such as Hot Topic, FYE Entertainment and GameStop have grown to be a key channel for anime, mass merchants are taking tentative steps into the arena. For example, Market sources say Target is expected to feature anime products – collectibles, apparel, mugs and other items – in 1,600 stores during a 2-3 month run beginning in March in its dedicated “license shop” — a scalable display within its entertainment department. (A Target spokesman declined comment.) 

For its part, Walmart launched a dedicated collectibles section with Loot Crate, Culture Fly and Funko at 3,500 stores in October and is expected to add anime-related items in early 2019.

“Anime has always been in the niche space, but it is quickly becoming more mainstream and relevant and if you are Target or Walmart, you start to notice that,” says Viz Media’s Brad Woods, whose firm is best known for its “Naruto”, “My Hero Academia” and “Sailor Moon” properties.

As they’re working to extend retail exposure, owners and licensors of anime IP also are trying to broaden the base of licensees. That’s not without challenges.

Many anime productions in Japan are funded by 3-4 different companies, all of whom have approval rights for merchandise along with the anime artist, a step that can be jarring for licensees accustomed to working via a more streamlined process with property owners in other parts of the world. 

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Ramen noodle soup with Naruto characters


“It takes [properties with multiple ownership] longer sometimes to get through the system,” although the process is quicker for well-known properties like Naruto with an established track record, says Woods. “It can be a frustration for licensees; what we do with new groups is manage expectations and plan accordingly. If you come out and say ‘let’s do a shirt and hit the (retail) planogram in six weeks,’ you aren’t being very realistic. Sometimes it is better to say ‘let’s plan for next season’ to allow for enough time to make the process a little easier.”

Anime’s crossover to the mainstream has been evident this fall. Legendary Pictures announced plans for a live-action adaptation of “My Hero Academia.” That’s in addition to it currently being in production on the live-action film, Detective Pikachu

Separately, Fathom Events worked with Crunchyroll to bring its 12-episode “Yuri on Ice” series to 95 movie theaters on Oct. 13 for marathon screenings. And the Goku character from Dragon Ball Super: Broly, will be one of 15 big character floats (56 feet long) in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade later this month.

“Geek chic is popular now and people wear it with pride and it is totally acceptable,” says Rooster Teeth’s Geoff Yetter, whose firm developed the popular RWBY series that is among the few anime series produced in the U.S. “We had these fandoms, but they were kept behind closed doors. But now these people are adults with money to spend and there is a sense of nostalgia” for properties such as Dragon Ball and Naruto, which were released more than 20 years ago.

Given that increasingly monied-fan base, the once in inexpensive t-shirts and collectibles are being joined by premium products. For example, RWBY licensee McFarlane Toys developed a 12-inch resin RWBY Alpha Beowolf Battle statue the sells for $550. And the Benny Gold streetwear brand and boutique is working on a co-branded Crunchyroll collection that due in 2019.

“The execution and target price points have matured,” says Woods. “Before you might have a $10 t-shirt, now you have a $50 version that has a collaborative artist interpretation of one of the characters. It becomes trendier and higher quality and that does a lot to raise a brand’s image.”

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RWBY high-end statue


While Dragon Ball, Naruto and My Hero Academia are among the top-selling licensed brands, finding the up and coming properties such as Re: Zero, Black Clover, Yuri on Ice, Goblin Slayer and others are of equal importance if anime is going to continue to raise its profile. To that end, Bioworld Merchandising launched Anime Pls as a platform for testing sales of new properties and using that data to sell retailers on carrying the product, says Bioworld’s Beth Taylor. It also uses the site to put a twist on proven properties with designs that appeal to hardcore fans but might be lost on mass consumers. For example, it is featuring a design with a “Great Ape Goku” design that has appeared only a few times in the Dragon Ball series.  Ellation also formed a studio division earlier to release original content on Crunchyroll in 2019, starting with “High Guardian Spice,” which will have a licensing program attached to it, says Crunchyroll’s Michael Melby.

“The goal is to find the next big title and bring it to brick and mortar,” says Taylor. “Even within the more popular titles there will be more ‘insider’ art, which allows us to keep that pop culture fan happy and we can communicate to brick and mortar the results we are having.”

While the designs have traditionally found a home in apparel and accessories and collectibles, anime in finding its way into licensed food and beverages as well as home décor and bedding. Viz Media licensee CTC Food International  in the U.S. has launched Naruto-branded ramen noodle soup and soda featuring designs from the series that first ran in the early 2000s. The food is part of an effort to appeal to a younger audience than the typical teenager to young adult consumer attracted to the property, says Wood. In the case of Crunchyroll, it is targeting ramen noodles, ice cream and baked goods for 2019 and licensee Just Funky recently launched bedding sets using Black Clover, Yuri on Ice and Bananya, says Melby.

“It is about bringing a meaningful experience to the fans through content and merchandise. If you don’t have that and it’s just a money-grab, anime fans know that and won’t buy the product,” says Yetter.

Contacts:

Bioworld Merchandising, Beth Taylor, Licensing Dir., 888-831-2138 betht@bioworldmerch.com

Crunchyroll, Michael Melby, Consumer Products Dir., 415-770-9404, mmelby@crunchyroll.com

Rooster Teeth, Geoff Yetter, Licensing Mgr., 940-353-7144, Geoff.yetter@roosterteeth.com

Viz Media. Brad Woods, Chief Marketing Officer, 415-546-7073 x235, bradwoods@viz.com

Source: https://www.licensing.org/inside-licensing/with-higher-profile-via-streaming-services-anime-earning-a-spot-at-mass/

Amazon

20% Amazon brands account for 80% of private brand sales

Courtesy: Junglescout

Courtesy: Junglescout

The majority of Amazon’s private label brands are found in the apparel departments. Of those brands, 60 per cent target women. In terms of revenue and sales, approximately 20 per cent of its brands account for nearly 80 per cent of its private label brand sales, as per a report. AmazonBasics does nearly 3x the sales of its next most popular brand, Presto.

Currently, Amazon trails only Wal-mart as the top apparel retailer in the US, according to the Amazon Private Label Brands Analysis by JungleScout. It says that 42 per cent of customers who view Amazon Essentials products end up purchasing them. 

The report says that most consumers search for the brand when buying an Amazon private label product, indicating strong brand recognition. Only 1 per cent of Amazon’s total sales account for its private label brands. Amazon’s Brand Scout + Ro saw 6.4x YOY growth in 2017 and Amazon has added more than 22 private label brands since 2016. 

Amazon has invested heavily in women’s clothing labels and continues to do so. However, the analysis shows that women’s clothing performs poorly for them. Women’s clothing brands account for more than 51 per cent of Amazon’s private label brands overall (and 59 per cent of clothing brands). 

“Of the 10 worst performing Amazon private label brands, 9 were women’s or girls’ clothing labels. And 82 per cent of women’s clothing brands fail to sell more than 100 units per month,” notes the report. 

On average, men’s clothing performs three times better than women’s clothing per month. Clothing have difficult selling on Amazon as women want to try on their clothing before they buy it. The other successful brands on Amazon circumvent this issue by being lower cost, less public facing (for example, the women’s fashion labels that do well are casual/at-home wear, pajamas, and lingerie), or improved social proof, the report further adds. (KD)

Source: https://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/apparel-news/20-amazon-brands-account-for-80-of-private-brand-sales-245521-newsdetails.htm

Buzzfeed, Macy’s launch new homeware line

Goodful, Buzzfeed’s health-and-wellness-centered media brand, is partnering with Macy’s to release a range of homeware goods, according to Adweek.

The line of 100 products for the home will be available on Oct. 24 across 400 Macy’s stores and on the department store’s website. The news comes on the heels of BuzzFeed’s partnership earlier this year between its brand Tasty and Walmart.

“We’re proud of the partnership because it shows what a modern media company can pull off with a modern retailer,” Ben Kaufman, head of commerce, BuzzFeed, tells Adweek. “This is something that BuzzFeed can uniquely do–especially pull a program in this way and launch in the speed and efficiency in which we have launched it.”

Partners include Epoca (for houseware items), Cuisinart (for home electronics), Welspun (for bedding) and Aerogarden (for an in-home gardening system), reports Adweek. To support the product range, a dedicated Goodful website will debut on Oct. 24 that will feature some products and new photography, typography and content.

Select Macy’s stores will offer an in-store experience where a photo wall will be featured in the Goodful area for shopper to post onto their social media channels. An experiential event with giveaways at Macy’s Herald Square in New York is also being planned.

Last week, BuzzFeed announced the opening of an experimental store in New York City.

Source: https://www.licenseglobal.com/homewares/buzzfeed-macys-launch-new-homeware-line

Walmart to steer clear of food-only retailing for now

NEW DELHI: Even after acquiring India’s largest e-commerce company Flipkart, Walmart will stay away from applying to invest in a food-only retailing venture in the immediate future that will allow the US giant to stock and sell groceries directly to consumers through the online platform.

Walmart would rather have a presence in the food products market through third-party retailers on Flipkart and escape the scrutiny and riders associated with foreign direct investment of up to 100% in food-only retailing ventures, according to sources.

“It doesn’t make sense to sell only food either through brick-and-mortar or through online,” said a person familiar with Walmart’s plans. “With all those riders, it is even harder to do it.” Walmart’s strategy is in contrast to arch-rival Amazon, which received government approval last year for a fully owned food retailing subsidiary that the Seattle-based ecommerce behemoth is yet to start. Amazon’s plans hit a hurdle after the government asked it to keep separate equipment, machinery and warehouses for the food products business and not to mix or share anything with its flagship marketplace business Amazon.in.

Walmart has always maintained that a food-only brick-and-mortar venture doesn’t make business sense because of the wafer-thin margins.

“Walmart would rather handle the back-end of the food and grocery and that will help it escape the scrutiny and riders associated with food FDI retailing,” the source said.

A spokesperson for Walmart declined to comment.

A company like Walmart is not in a rush because it is in India for the long term, according to Devangshu Dutta, chief executive officer of retail consultant Third Eyesight.

“They are looking at India as a longterm game — if it may not happen now, it will happen two years down the line when the regulations become friendly,” he said. “If you are in for the long haul, you are not in a rush as the window of opportunity is not closing.”

India created the food-retailing segment in 2016, allowing full ownership by overseas companies in ventures that could sell locally produced and packaged food items through offline and online channels. However, it set riders for applicants such as keeping logistics, manpower, accounting and offices, among others, at arm’s length from their existing ecommerce marketplaces. India also permits 100% foreign capital in online marketplaces, which can only be offered as platforms for other vendors and retailers to do business.

The government had banked on global retail giants such as Walmart and Tesco to lap up the new investment opportunity in food retailing, especially after the 2012 policy allowing 51% FDI in multibrand retailing remained a virtual nonstarter due to stiff riders.

While most global bigwigs shied away from investing in the high-profile food only retail ventures, Amazon appeared as a saviour in February last year, when it applied to invest $500 million through this route.

Amazon has now sought a clarification from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion on whether it can share some of its warehouse staff, entry and exit doors at warehouses, barcode machines, trollies, pallets and other logistical paraphernalia for its food-only venture with the existing infrastructure of Amazon.in, ET reported in April.

It has also asked the department if it can maintain the segregation “virtually.”

A top foreign retail consultant said Walmart would rather wait until India allows such ventures to sell non-food items like soaps, toothpastes and personal care items to make the business viable for store operators.

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com