Perfetti Van Melle

Product licensing is one way the brand tells its story.

Chupa Chups® licensing originated in the late 1990s in Spain, when the brand was approached by Spanish and European stationery, apparel and eyeglass makers interested in extending the brand. This interest led it to establish a formal licensing division in 2000.

“Our company founder was a visionary who understood the value of licensing activity,” Licensing Area Manager Marta Ballesteros says. “The goal of our licensing division since the beginning was to extend the brand across a variety of sectors to create additional visibility and revenue.”

The Chupa Chups lollipop was invented in 1958 and first trademarked in 1962. The brand has a presence in more than 150 countries and is the global market leader in Europe, Russia and Japan in the lollipop segment.

Making a Connection

Chupa Chups® today has dozens of active licenses. Lifestyle products bearing the brand include apparel, fashion accessories, personal care items, stationery and gift items. The brand has more than 3,000 licensed product references available in hotspot retailers worldwide, including high-fashion retailers such as Zara and H&M.

Perfetti Van Melle expanded its licensing efforts beyond Chupa Chups® in 2010, when it started licensing its Airheads® candy brand in the United States. Last year, the company expanded licensing efforts to include its two most popular mint brands: Mentos®, which it licenses in Europe and the USA; and Frisk, the leading mint brand in Japan. All three brands have inspired lifestyle and gift lines available in their respective home markets.

“We see licensing as the perfect communication tool to refresh our brands and keep them constantly trending while also increasing their visibility,” Ballesteros says. “From a marketing perspective, licensing creates new touch points with our consumers and creates greater loyalty for the brand.”

Most licensing deals tend to have a three-year lifespan, though several of the brand’s apparel partners have been on board for more than five years. The brand’s longest-lived licensee, Coty, has produced Chupa Chups®-themed fragrances available in Europe for more than 10 years.

One of the company’s biggest strengths in licensing is its expertise in graphic design. “Our brand has a very clear identity, starting with the logo,” Cool says. “We have created more than 1,000 different graphics and images around the brand since we first started licensing. Our partners have told us that our wealth of new designs and ability to align with the latest fashion trends is what they appreciate most about our brand.”

Perfetti Van Melle’s brands also have unique aroma profiles, making them a natural for fragrances as well as air fresheners. “Our brands have a very clear identity and make an emotional link with customers,” she adds.

Keeping Cool

The initial Airheads® licensing effort gave Perfetti Van Melle its first experience in the food and beverage category, which today is a major focus area for the group’s licensing division.

A licensed Airheads® ice cream, marketed by Unilever from 2010 to 2014, was so successful in the United States the company expanded the concept. Today, ice cream manufacturer Koldwave produces more than 10 SKUs of Airheads-branded ice cream available across the United States. A line of Airheads® freeze bars produced by JelSert will hit the U.S. market in 2017.

Perfetti Van Melle recently signed an agreement with Unilever to produce ice cream for the European market. A range of individually wrapped Chupa Chups® Calippo Shots ice creams with flavors including cola, lemon and sour cherry with banana will launch this summer.

The company plans to extend its efforts beyond ice cream and into other food and beverage products including baked goods, beverages and desserts, Ballesteros notes.

Staying Innovative

Although much of Perfetti Van Melle’s licensing efforts in the United States have centered on the Airheads® brand, it recently took a major step to introduce Chupa Chups® and Mentos® for licensing opportunities stateside.

The company last year reached a deal with IT’SUGAR, a specialty candy store with more than over 80 retail locations in US hotspots, for a “shop-in-shop” concept. IT’SUGAR locations feature a “Chupa Chups® Corner” with candy as well as other licensed products including apparel, pillows and accessories.

The concept proved so successful that in June IT’SUGAR will launch an in-store concept for Airheads® in recognition of the brand’s 30th anniversary. “This is a concept that is really based around the enjoyment of candy,” Cool says.

Perfetti Van Melle continues to seek new ways to present Chupa Chups® and its other brands to customers. One of the company’s more unique licensing initiatives is a limited-edition Mentos® car, manufactured by French carmaker Citroën for the French market.

“We keep innovating all the time with all of our brands and believe in staying on top of development and making high-quality confectionery products,” Cool says. “Our company philosophy is based on continuous innovation, having high quality standards for our products and tapping into consumers’ desires.”