10 Minutes With … Panini on the Growth of the Brand and Keeping Consumers Engaged

License Global sits down with Antonio Allegra, group external relationships director, Panini, to discuss how the brand has grown and keeps consumers engaged outside its core periods.

Ian Hart, Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA

September 13, 2023

4 Min Read
Antonio Allegra, Panini
Antonio Allegra© Panini S.p.A All rights reserved

Founded in Moderna, Italy, by brothers, Benito and Giuseppe Panini, in 1961, Panini has been producing and publishing collectible soccer stickers since the 1970 FIFA World Cup and has grown into a global brand synonymous with sticker collecting.

Over the years, the company has had the rights to produce stickers for the UEFA Champions League, FIFA World Cup, UEFA Nations League, Copa América, Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Argentine Primera División, among others.

License Global: How has the Panini brand grown from a small, family-run business to a brand synonymous with sticker collecting and phrases such as “swapsies,” “got, got, need” and “shinies,” being connected to the brand and becoming common language?

Antonio Allegra: The Panini “magic” has been part of the company’s DNA since the beginning: the sensation of picking up a packet, tearing it open, smelling the stickers inside, finding out if the missing player is inside, the thrill of finding rare stickers. There is no way to replicate it electronically, and this magic is the same even today, more than 60 years after the brothers Panini started the business.

Collecting Panini stickers meant and means being part of an ante litteram social network, which is why the brand and the different moments of collecting have become part of our culture, even outside the world of stickers.

Related:Panini Announces Launch of 2024 Premier League Adrenalyn Xl Trading Cards

For many fans, a season or major tournament “officially starts” when the Panini stickers are launched. What is it about the brand that resonates so well with consumers?

There is a deep connection between the Panini collections and the events they celebrate. Stickers are an essential part of that, a sort of appetizer that collectors need before the kickoff of the tournament to get closer to the players, learn all about the competition and be ready when it officially starts.

How have consumer habits changed since the brand was first launched? Do you find that consumers who discovered the brand when making swaps with friends in school still engage with the brand in adulthood?

Everything has changed, and nothing has changed in collecting. The Panini magic is still there, but children today have so many stimuli and interact with each other more and more digitally, which is why it is more difficult for us to be part of their free time.

The good news is that today’s adults have rediscovered the pleasure of collecting, sometimes with the “excuse” of sharing beautiful moments with their children, but in general because they are happy to go back to experiencing the sensations of their childhood.

Related:Brand Licensing Europe 2023 Content Agenda Announced

Panini Kick player logo, Panini

Panini Kick player logo, © Panini S.p.A All rights reserved

How do you keep fans engaged in the brand outside your peak periods?

In general, once a tournament or an event has been identified, an editorial plan is built around it with various launches to cover all the needs of collectors in terms of products. For example, if we look at a local championship, we publish no less than four to five collections per season, trying to cover the different phases of the competition.

Supporting each program also means comprehensive coverage across different social networks to enrich the user experience for our different launches.

Historically, when the brand first launched, how important were the stickers as a gateway for fans to get to know and learn about overseas players? How do you amend and adapt the product to keep it fresh and keep modern fans engaged from year to year?

The “role” of Panini stickers in the collector’s learning process has always been fundamental. Obviously, in terms of graphic and editorial development, you always need to “refresh” the product at every season or at every tournament.

Internally, our motto is “innovate within tradition.” We must always add new elements and renew the product, but the base and the heritage must be respected to not “betray” our collectors and our history.

Have you branched outside the traditional trading sticker model into other areas of licensed consumer products?

In addition to the traditional collecting world, both the European one, linked to passion and community dynamics, and the American one, more focused on the search for rare cards and memorabilia, Panini has developed various loyalty programs for third parties, based on not only sticker/card collections but also editorial or merchandising products, to support the partners’ needs.

On the other hand, Panini becomes the licensee of its own original assets, starting with icons and slogans linked to the Panini tradition, which prove to be very attractive for enthusiasts in various consumer products.

To learn more about Panini, visit stand B262, at Brand Licensing Europe, Oct. 4-6, ExCeL, London.

Register for Brand Licensing Europe 2023.

About the Author(s)

Ian Hart

Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA, License Global

Ian joined the License Global editorial team in May 2022 as digital editor for the U.K. and EMEA, becoming Senior Digital Editor in April 2023.

Ian is a huge fan of sports and entertainment brands and, as a father, toys and kids' brands are a large part of his life!

He has been at Informa (formerly UBM) since 2018, where he was previously the editor of SHP, a B2B digital publication aimed at health & safety professionals.

Ian studied journalism at university before spending seven years in online fantasy gaming. Prior to moving to Informa, Ian worked in B2B trade print media, in the automotive sector, working on various publications aimed at independent automotive technicians and parts distributors.

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