What is it?

The local morning news did a little piece yesterday on the Christmas displays that are already going up in some stores in the UK – a tad early, perhaps? Better start buying, there are only 140 shopping days left…

It does bring to mind the subject of why people buy product, a subject that should be of interest to every licensed artist. We are not going to plumb the depths of psychological motivations that might cause someone to pick an item up off the shelf – we’ll leave that to the theorists – but look more at the question often asked in our studio – “Sure it’s cute, but what is it going to be?”

This is what you should be asking yourself about every piece of art you want to license. How is this art going to translate into a fresh, unique but still mainstream product that will actually cause someone (preferably a lot of someones) to part with their hard-earned cash? We often say in our office that a design needs a “reason for being”, meaning that it may be a cute…penguin, snowman, kitty, character, etc… but that is generally not enough to make it commercially viable.

The greeting card industry is a great one to study because they have it down pat. People buy cards for holidays and life events like birthday, baby, grad, get well, new job – the list is well defined. And they target who they are buying for – spouse, mom, uncle, co-worker, and so on. They also have mastered that important “connection” part of the equation – as the saying goes about cards, “the art stops them but the words sell them”. That same philosophy can be translated into whatever category you are going to target – put together a group of products with good enough design to stop them, and a meaningful message to connect with them, and they will be much more likely to be picked up off the shelf.

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