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Market Research


The royal wedding becomes a brand

Sales related to Prince William and Kate Middleton wedding are expected to rise up to 26 million pounds


The wedding between prince William and Catherine Middleton is a global event of unquestionable appeal. The TV audience is expected to be of 2.5 billion, more than three times the audience of 750 million that watched the wedding between prince Charles and Diana in 1981.

In fact, 36 major broadcasters are now in London to cover the event live: BBC, Skynews, ABC, NBC, CBS and even al-Jazeera. There are around 8,500 journalists in the city, 6,500 of them with official accreditation by the palace. BBC alone has invested 2 million pounds and has 550 people working on the wedding coverage. As a comparison to give account of the level of awareness of the event, there were 15,000 journalists with accreditations in the South Africa World Cup.

As almost half of the world population will at least pay some attention to this act that is part a private affair and part state politics, is not strange that a good number of toys and licensed product companies were willing to manufacture all kinds of goods with the image of the princes.

The expected numbers are really impressing. Consulting firm Verdict expects sales of products related to the wedding for 26 million pounds in the UK. Also, the British Retail Consortium estimates than total sales could reach 480 million pounds, including all products and services with sales boosted by the event, even though they don’t include the image of Charles and Kate. Such as the cucumbers for the classical English sandwiches. No kidding: the food chain store Waitrose has increased its cucumber orders in 50% to meet increasing demand.

Without any official seal
The Royal Family does not demand an official license in order to manufacture products using its image: it simply publishes a series of guidelines for the use of the royal insignia and all pictures of the members of the family. 

Basically, all insignias and images related with the British monarchy can be used for any products, “providing they are of a permanent kind, free from advertisement, in good taste, carry no implication that the firm concerned has received Royal Custom or approval, and are not in contravention of any trademark or copyright”. There are of course exceptions: medals and coins (which are not legal tender), seals, articles of dress, household linen, furnishing fabrics, packaging, containers, boxes, covers and labels.

The main goal is to allow all British businesses to benefit of an institution that represents all citizens, but doubtless this carries some negative effects for companies that want to distinguish themselves from competitors and use licenses for this purpose. For example, when Arklu decided to get in touch with Clarence House in order to have some kind of approval for their Kate Middleton doll, the firm only received an answer by email. A very British answer, no doubt, stating that “we would not wish to object to the production of a doll”.

This doll has however become a success: the limited edition of 10.000 is nearly exhausted, and some British designers will also prepare outfits for the commemorative toy.

Another toy maker that has decided to manufacture products with wedding references is Corgi, that launched three classic British model cars: a mini, a T Ford van, and obviously a double-decker bus. They are also close to sell-out.

Some other known companies in the business with wedding related products are Danilo, a calendar and cards maker, and GB Eye, a poster manufacturer. Even PEZ has sold a pair of sweet dispensers with the heads of William and Catherine.

Some near ridiculous memorabilia
It’s not strange to think that some of this companies would have preferred some kind of differentiation. All kinds of products with the bride and groom image have been sold: some of them are curious and others are simply outlandish. For example:

  • A fridge with a huge photo of William and Kate. Embracing. Waiting for you to surprise them if you suddenly feel hungry in the middle of the night.   
  • Allegedly funny  tea bags.   
  • Garden gnomes.   
  • Condoms. Under the Royal Jewels brand. Manufacturers assure that they combine “the strength of a Prince with the yielding sensitivity of a Princess-to-be”. The company seems eager to add that they “are not supplied to, or approved by, Prince William of Wales, Catherine Middleton or any member of the Royal Family”.   

The Royal Warrant, only official certification
The only royal distinction available for manufacturers and suppliers is the Royal Warrant: around 850 firms have been granted with this recognition of having supplied goods or services for at least five years to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales.

Some of these firms have obviously taken advantage of the opportunity. Schweppes has launched a series of limited edition bottles mentioning the royal wedding. The food and goods store of Picadilly Circus, Fortnum & Mason has also launched a range of royal wedding products such as chocolates, china gifts and picnic sets. Ulster Weaver also started to sell a line of kitchen cloth commemorating the event.

With all these fuzz and noise, it can hardly seem strange to anyone that a good number of Brits are fed up with all this royal show, even though only 30% of population are willing to abolish the monarchy. Some of them have decided to flee: the Thomas Cook travel agency has registered an increase in 35% of reservations overseas for these days, as it is in fact an official holiday, while Ryanair bookings are 65% higher. 

Those who stay can also read for example the Guardian online: it gently includes a button for republicans: if pressed, all information concerning the wedding will be blocked.

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