With multiple newer properties unable to film new material during the COVID-19 pandemic, licensing and merchandising brands are turning to fail-safe properties to ensure success.

McKenna Morgan, Content Editor

February 19, 2021

3 Min Read
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It’s no secret that licensing is a business for people. Favorite properties, artists, brands and more get a boost from the licensing industry, and people find joy in the licensing products they purchase.

However, newer properties are on a bit of a standstill as of late. With the COVID-19 pandemic running rampant, new properties are more of a risk for licensing and merchandising. Not only are many shows and movies unable to film necessary material due to the lockdown, but because of this, studios and manufacturers are opting to create product for “safer” properties.

These evergreen properties are a surefire way for licensing deals to continue to rake in the dough, while newer properties with less of a cult following are more of a risk for business partners. Nostalgia in licensing was an enormous trend even before the pandemic struck, but lockdown caused a large shift toward nostalgia to occur at a much more rapid rate.

“Everything starts with the consumer; understand their ever-shifting habits,” says Chris Urban, vice president, general manager, Mealtime Stories, Kraft Heinz. “How has this pandemic changed the consumer behavior? What’s here to stay? How much will revert? Everything happens with the consumer.”

When faced with uncertainty, consumers are more likely to turn to brands that bring them comfort. Hence, with global upheaval happening all around them, consumers find that the best way to soothe themselves is with things and properties that have brought them comfort in the past. In addition, lockdown has given parents the option of teaching their children about the properties they love, introducing a whole new generation of fans and continuing the cycle of evergreen content.

Nostalgic brands are also relaunching and making a huge comeback during this period. Millennials found comfort in trends from the ‘90s, and Gen-Z is shifting trends to a 2000s state of mind in what seems like the blink of an eye. ‘90s brands and trends like chokers and jelly shoes were back “in” in the late 2010s. Now, denim on denim, multi-toned hair and tracksuits are making a comeback, just one year into the 2020s. Brands like Baby Phat relaunched with huge success. This led the early-2000s brand to expand upon their 2000s’ branding and take a modern approach, joining the beauty brand craze in September of 2020.

The success of these brands comes from both nostalgia and innovation, something that brands can tap into to make their products stand out. What worked during the time period that made this brand huge, and how can it be evolved to fit the interests, lifestyles and personalities of the 2020s? How and why does the evergreen cycle occur, and what external factors allow it to speed up or slow down? How can the industry predict trends in what properties and products will be worthwhile to the younger generations?

The answer: properties that bring back the idea of a better time. Generations romanticize their childhoods, and with kids needing to grow up far too fast because of situations like COVID-19, it becomes clear that these products and properties jump into their minds as a coping mechanism. The speed of the evergreen cycle connects directly to generational experiences and how those generations handle said experiences. When dealt a tough hand at a younger age, the evergreen cycle speeds up. The licensing industry, therefore, can use these evergreen properties to help generations let go during times of turmoil – and they have a responsibility to.

About the Author(s)

McKenna Morgan

Content Editor, License Global

McKenna Morgan is Content Editor for License Global. Based in the Santa Monica office, McKenna specializes in coverage involving non-profits, beauty and cosmetics, health and wellness, new and social media and entertainment licensing.

When McKenna isn’t covering the latest licensing news, she spends her time attending live music shows and finding her next travel destination.

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