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"The challenge is to choose the right strategic partners"

Christine Cool, Senior Brand Manager, Licensing Division, Chupa Chups


Christine Cool is in charge of Chupa Chups’ licensing program, a brand known worldwide thanks to the success of this lollipop, that reaches a third of all sales of such products. As Cool explains, the brand presents a strategy based on a colourful and cheerful lifestyle, and clearly relies on its logo, redesigned by Salvador Dalí in 1969.

What are the key strategic points of the Chupa Chups’ licensing program?
In the late 90's, Chupa Chups began an international licensing program, driven by the high awareness and emotional value of the brand. The program aims to develop products targeted at children and youngsters that project the colourful lifestyle of the brand.

Our partners particularly value our style guides, published twice a year offering a variety of retro pop designs, inspired by the rich heritage of Chupa Chups.

Today the brand already has more than 40 licensees worldwide, mainly in Europe and Asia.

How was the international business development planned?
The licensing division of Chupa Chups is centralized in the Spanish headquarters of Perfetti Van Melle Group, from where all activity and international strategy is directed. Also, artwork and communication elements that apply to all products are designed and developed. In some European markets like Spain and Italy, licenses rights are managed directly, given the proximity and knowledge of the marketplace. But to allow further expansion in other countries where the brand has great potential, such as France and the UK, we use local agents to help us assess the quality and capacity of distribution licensees, and also manage all their activity.

In Asia and particularly in Japan, we have shared several years of collaboration with Sanrio Far East, and Chupa Chups is a reference to licensing, as is shown by the award received in 2009 for the best licensed product, given by the Japanese branch of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association.

Recently we have also appointed agents in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, where the brand is growing very rapidly in response to local opportunities.

What are the main difficulties encountered in this process of internationalisation?
Chupa Chups is a brand with great global presence and counts with the strong international structure of Perfetti Van Melle group. Therefore, the process of internationalisation is a reality that extends to licenses, offering the possibility of global projects.

Moreover, we chose to enter markets where Chupa Chups enjoys a high popularity while they are also ripe for licensing purposes.

But the challenge is to choose the right strategic partners. It is essential that they are well placed on the market in question, but is also critical that they understand and defend the values of the brand as we would. When we get this combination, it often happens that we offer highly original and stunning projects that add value to the brand and inspire the activities conducted in other markets.

Do you think there is a general lack knowledge about the licensing business?

It is true that the world of sports and entertainment licensing is increasingly present and introduced at the business level, but there is also still a great ignorance of the industry and the potential it offers. It is still very common to confuse merchandising or franchises with licenses. In this sense, we are still far from countries like the UK or the US, where there are sophisticated ways of licensing, also very well organized at a legal level. In fact, there is no specific academic training for professionals who make up the licensing industry, but this year the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association has decided to set foot in Spain, and with the help of the platforms in the industry, we hope to increase the level of information and knowledge.

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