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There's No Place Like Home: Consumers Flock to Licensed Home Goods

Home is where the heart is, and for most consumers that also means filling their abode with quality goods. In today’s era, however, there are a multitude of options when it comes to homewares, and with brands like HGTV, Better Homes & Gardens and Scott Living, among others, shelling out advice on the latest trends in the space, it only makes sense for these brands to expand into their own ranges of licensed products giving, consumers more options than ever before.

“The good news is that consumer demand for home products is not waning. How and where they buy new sheets for their guest bedroom or that perfect decorative pillow for a pop of color on their couch continues to evolve,” says Sondra Newkirk, senior director, brand licensing, Meredith. “We see shopping behavior split between ‘need’ states and ‘want’ states: when time is limited, consumers know what they need and can quickly go online. When they’re looking for inspiration or for products they want, in-store shopping provides a tactile experience, tapping into the pleasure of discovering what they didn’t know they needed.”

So, what does it take to meet consumer demand in the home category? Take Meredith, for example, which boasts brands like Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Coastal Living, among others. The world’s second largest licensor, according to License Global’s annual Top 150 Global Licensors report released last month, has utilized these brands to create a robust assortment of branded home goods including patio furniture, cushions, pillows, string lighting, pathway lights, planters, rugs, drink dispensers and much more.

Most recently, Meredith partnered with Universal Furniture for Coastal Living-themed living, dining, bedroom and upholstery furnishings celebrating the look and feel of seaside living. The company also expanded its Coastal Living Home Collection with Bed Bath & Beyond last year.

Other highlights from Meredith’s home licensing program include Dillards’ Southern Living collection, which saw double-digit growth and became one of the retailer’s most successful partnership in 2017; Clipper Corporation’s Allrecipes-branded oval roaster set, which includes several kitchen products designed to help home cooks multi-task; and Direct Wines’ Better Homes & Gardens Wine Club, which ships 12 new bottles to members every three months; among others.

Another brand that has been successful at tapping into consumer demand is Scott Living, founded by Jonathan and Drew Scott (aka “The Property Brothers”). The brand debuted in 2014 and since has entered into a host of categories including outdoor and indoor furniture, tabletop, décor, fabric and more, sold at retailers like Amazon, Wayfair, QVC, Lowe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and more.

The duo has even expanded the Scott Living brand into mattresses with licensee Restonic and is gearing up to add a suite of products in 2019 including mattress pads, bed pillows, fashion top beds, rugs and other home décor items. But Scott Living isn’t only helping consumers out in the bedroom; the company is also planning to release a new collection of licensed products that will allow them to build out their entire dining rooms, excluding the food, of course.

“There’s a lot of monotony in the industry when it comes to product for the everyday consumer. It’s a lot of the same, boring, safe items,” says Drew Scott. “One thing we’re trying to do is stimulate that and break things up a little bit, as well as to show people that you can have style and function. Whether you’re renovating or putting product in a home, a lot of what’s produced isn’t functional for the average family, and we really try to think of families and how these products and furniture work in the home when we create them.”

Scott Living recently released a line of branded towels on QVC, which racked in $2.6 million in sales in less than 24 hours, according to Jonathan Scott.

“When people buy $2.6 million worth of towels in less than 24 hours, you know you’ve got to be doing something right,” remarks Drew Scott.

The Scott Brothers aren’t the only celebrities who have built their licensing portfolios in the home category.

Take Kathy Ireland, for example, who through her company, Kathy Ireland Worldwide (the world’s No. 27 largest licensor, according to License Global), has crafted a significant licensing program within the category. 

Most recently, KIWW renewed its licensing agreement with Pacific Coast Lighting, expanded its relationship with Nourison to include its Kathleen Marie New York label and entered into a new partnership with Michael Amini for Kathy Ireland Home Designs.

“People laughed in our faces when we decided to license our brand in the furniture industry, and last year, our company was named one of the 40 greatest influencers in the industry by Furniture Today,” says Ireland. “The industry has opened up so much since our company first ventured into the home industry, and people are understanding the power of licensing in the home space.”

Christopher Knight, known for his role as Peter Brady on “The Brady Bunch,” is another celebrity “homing” in on the home industry. The Brand Liaison, which represents Knight for licensing, has constructed a program spanning bedding, home décor, home accents and more, all of which can be found through traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and through e-commerce options such as Overstock.com.

The Brand Liaison, in partnership with Daymond John’s The Shark Group, has also seen success with Catherine Zeta Jones’ home brand, Casa Zeta-Jones, on QVC.

The agency has also expanded the fashion brand Gloria Vanderbilt into the home category and is currently working on a program for Romeo and Juliet Couture.

From the art category, Debra Valencia has launched a program that includes bedding, sheets, tabletop and more. And Barbara Ignatiev, The Brand Liaison’s newest client, will also debut products, including ceramic and melamine.

Licensing agency Beanstalk is also making its mark on the home category via its clients HGTV Home and Kelly Ripa.

In 2017, HGTV Home’s consumer products program achieved $400 million in retail sales with merchandise spanning paint, furniture, wallpaper, decorative fabric and outdoor living. The brand’s most notable initiative saw Sherwin-Williams launch a branded paint collection in Sherwin-Williams’ stores and in all Lowe’s locations nationwide.

The agency has also painted a robust licensing program for Kelly Ripa Home that spans decorative fabric, wallpaper, bedding, furniture and rugs. Several years ago, the brand partnered with retailer Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft on the exclusive launch of the Kelly Ripa Home decorative fabric collection, which is now available in more than 400 Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft locations. Looking ahead, the retailer will expand its Kelly Ripa Home offerings to include 10 new fabric options and branded peel and stick wallpaper.

Beyond its traditional home clients, Beanstalk brought British designer Matthew Williamson into the fold with wallpaper and furnishings from Osborne & Little. Once established in the category, Williamson launched his first U.S. home collection in collaboration with CB2. The 39-piece range featured pieces including furniture, table top goods and other home accessories, all of which showcased the designer’s signature style and prints. As a follow-up to the collection, Williamson is gearing up to launch a 12-piece line including rugs, cushion covers and more this summer.

Across the pond, Beanstalk paired Williamson with British-based home manufacturer Duresta to launch his first bespoke furniture collection, which is sold in high-end retailers worldwide. He also designed a collection of bed, bath and decorative accessories for the mid-market department store Debenhams.

All in all, the home licensing industry looks to be in good shape, as does the category’s position at retail. According to the National Retail Federation, retail sales at furniture and home furnishings stores were up 6.6 percent year-over-year in January, up 2.9 percent year-over-year in February and up 4.1 percent year-over-year in March.

“Many changes have occurred in U.S. society over the past decade that either directly or indirectly impact the home furniture industry,” says Steven Heller, founder, The Brand Liaison. “Technological changes, the rise of social media, evolving demographics and the increasing purchasing power of women are just a few factors that furniture manufacturers and retailers must consider in their marketing efforts.” 

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