Discovery Enterprises International manages the international consumer products business for Discovery's powerhouse of brands that includes Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC. From its base in Chiswick, London, DEI runs a geographically far-reaching and innovative licensing program, taking into its remit everything from branded travel expeditions, educational toys, character parties and lifestyle property developments. The international business saw 40 percent year-on-year growth from 2009-2010 and is set to continue at this pace in 2011.
Consumer products are vital for revenue growth but also, as Nicolas Bonard, DEI senior vice president, told License! Global: "They are an important tool for raising brand equity, which gives the core business more power."
Strategy for the Discovery brands is developed jointly between the U.S. and international consumer products teams. However when it comes to executing those strategies, DEI ploughs its own distinct and increasingly distinctive furrow. Implementation differs territory by territory in a perfect example of how one size does not fit all around the globe. DEI has recently completed a real estate deal in India for a Discovery-inspired property development; attracted 50 licensees for its character Doki in South America; and will shortly launch the first DMax products in Germany, a unique line of "extreme" barbecue and food products reflecting a slightly tongue-in-cheek and adrenaline-fueled male lifestyle.
Each project follows a strategy devised centrally but implemented according to the maturity of each brand in each territory.
"The context of licensing is global–we develop architecture and style guides and develop individual market opportunities," says Jo Edwards, vice president of DEI's international consumer products. "With the help of our global network of agents, DEI has ambitious plans to go after the huge potential in markets such as China and the other BRIC nations."
At last year's Licensing International Expo, DEI unveiled a newly-aligned licensing strategy that focuses on its core men's audience with Discovery Adventures, which brings the brand to life through "unforgettable" travel experiences, and Discovery Expedition, which extends the core values of adventure and exploration into technically advanced lifestyle apparel and equipment.
The core product lines for Discovery Expedition will be apparel, footwear and accessories with additional categories of gadgets, hardware and camping equipment. Product lines will be tailored for each territory, with a small range of hero products stocked across all regions. A retail strategy is being developed to bring the Discovery Expedition brand to life and DEI is working with Barber, a U.K. design agency, to create a global blueprint for the Discovery Expedition brand at retail. DEI is expected to announce its first licensees soon. Extensive research has informed the Discovery Expedition retail strategy.
"Our core demographic is men aged 25-49 and Discovery Expedition speaks directly to them," says Edwards. "But we have worked until we fully understand the customer and the customer journey."
Discovery Kids' brands are also growing outside the U.S.
The Animal Planet licensing program continues to develop across the international markets with more than 45 licensees signed and new toys and books launching this year.
"Since the launch last year we have partners on board and there are good products coming into the market across different categories," says Edwards.
The Animal Planet brand has been successful for on-pack promotional activity with consumer goods companies including Pepsico and Sabritas for the Cheetos brand. In Q3 2011, a global food promotion is scheduled to roll out for back to school. International partners are also being secured for the Animal Planet magazine, which launched in February in the U.K. and is published by DC Thomson. It is also published in Benelux and deals are being finalized for the magazine in Italy, Poland, Greece and Russia.
At Licensing International Expo, DEI will officially launch its newest kids' brand, Explore Your World. Appealing to boys aged 6-12, the new line offers high tech role play, gadgets, science kits, outdoor play and cameras.