This is underlined in the execs' nominations for current leaders in licensed properties. Both cite
Dora the Explorer
while Michel taps Winnie the Pooh as a leading property. Although Girard accepts that "character licensing is growing," she is adamant that "even in preschool, fashion is still the driving force. Look at any children's apparel floor at any department store, and you will find high-end designer labels such as Cacharel and Kenzo." As Girard points out, a significant consequence of this emphasis on the quality of the product is that in France "maybe more than anywhere else in the world, successful TV ratings do not guarantee a successful licensing program at retail. A lot," she stresses, "rides on the quality of your products." Timoon's Michel also sees television ratings as less of a guarantee of success than in other countries because of the impact of new technologies such as VOD, mobile, and especially the Internet. "Right now," she acknowledges, "retailers plan their strategies based on the show's scheduling and performance, but a few years from now, they will pay much more attention to IPTV and mobile streaming." Citing the example of Timoon's Website,
, which, claims Michel, "receives 2 million hits per month, bigger than a typical French cabsat audience," she goes on to make the reasonable assumption that "once retailers begin to understand it is possible to get bigger audiences on the Web than on television, they will start to pay it much more attention." Whether this is how the market develops remains to be seen, but Sesame Workshop's Girard believes "France has one of the most structured and professional retail markets in the world. Hypermarkets," she explains, "are giant powerhouses with enormous bargaining power, especially over pricing. But one should not," cautions Girard, "overlook the mail-order sector, with giants such as La Redoute and 3 Suisse. Although, they can be very demanding partners, with a catalog in almost every French home, they also offer incomparable visibility." Visibility and cachet also are offered by the department stores, says Girard, but she accepts that "they do not always translate to huge volumes."
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