How To Bring In Characters To Boost Sales



How To Bring In Characters To Boost Sales

Bring in some star quality to put your products on the fast track

How to bring in characters to boost sales

Link yourself to the next blockbuster and your sales can fly. If you make the right association with a character or a brand, you can propel yourself into a different league, compete at a different price point, open up a new demographic or improve your position on the supermarket shelf.

At the top level, you will find yourself in a battle to compete for the rights in superheroes or gold medalists. However, a whole host of secondary characters and brands beyond entertainment are becoming available.


August institutions like the V&A, the RFU and the WI are actively exploring how to extend their brands into different categories of the market. If you are in a niche like bed linen, supplements or jams, one of these could give your brand a tasty twist.

The classic model is for you to gain the rights to display a character or a brand on your packaging. Alternatively, you might opt to draw inspiration for next season’s range by tapping into your partner’s knowledge or searching through their archives to find motifs or insignia that correspond to today’s trends.

So how might you go about bringing on board a star of daytime TV or adapting a design classic?

  • You will negotiate a licence to use the intellectual property in a brand or a design for three to five years in a clearly defined category of the market, ideally giving yourself the option to extend if all goes well.
  • You will agree to pay a royalty on sales, which could be 10% for toys, 4% in the mass market or 1% for the transfer of knowledge.
  • You will usually be expected to make an estimate of how much you are going to sell and, depending on the strength of the market, you may have to pay an advance or guarantee payments.
  • Below the top level, you can often find that your partners are happy to work in developing the market together.
  • You are unlikely to be given a free hand in developing products: your partner will want to approve each stage of your design.

So from the start, it is worth being sure that everyone shares the same assumptions. You will struggle if one of you is targeting a mass market and the other is sticking to a niche. If you can match the right name to the right audience in the right format, you can find your sales can quickly taking off in new directions.

SMEforGrowth Editor