Victoria Preston on how The Brand Informer is helping retailers of all shapes and sizes embrace licensing

We caught up with Victoria to find out more about the origins of The Brand Informer, and how it’s helping change the relationship between retailers and brands.

May of this year saw the launch of The Brand Informer, a new online platform that connects brands and retailers.

The brainchild of Victoria Preston, the platform aims to simplify the buying process around licensed product in way that helps retailers make decisions faster and discover new brands effortlessly.

We caught up with Victoria to find out more about the origins of The Brand Informer, and how it’s helping change the relationship between retailers and brands.

Victoria Preston, The Brand Informer

Hi Victoria, thanks for making time. To start things off, how did you find yourself in this industry?
When I was little, all I wanted to do was work in Formula One. I was told: “You’re from Belfast, you’re a girl, don’t be silly!” I managed to get work experience at Williams, the racing team, when I was between my first and second years at university. I got on really well with the head of marketing and with Frank Williams, so when it came to doing my dissertation, they wanted me to do it on licensing – comparing football licensing to Formula One licensing.

I really struggled, because there was no literature around it at the time, but I spoke to some amazing people for it and when I graduated, I got a job with Williams and that’s where it started. I was known as the t-shirt and toy girl!

Great stuff. Did you stay in sports from there or have you worked with other types of brands?
From Williams, I went and worked at CPLG – as most people do in the licensing industry! My clients there were England Rugby and England Cricket. I also had World Rally, Everton FC and West Ham FC. At the time, England Rugby wanted to target girls, so we did a set of England Rugby books with Mills & Boon. It was a great, fun product!

Victoria Preston, The Brand Informer

Ha! What a fun idea! Where do you go after getting England Rugby into Mills & Boone!
Well, after that, Sean McAuliffe left CPLG and I got The FA – which was great, except I’m not into football and four days after I got that brand England failed to qualify for the Euros! It had never happened before, so there were bridges that needed to be crossed that hadn’t even been designed!

From there, I went and worked with ITV. I then fell pregnant and started working for myself. I saw that my children wanted to buy, for example, an England Rugby pencil case in the local shop down the road, but they couldn’t because the local shop didn’t know about licensing. The cogs started turning and that’s where the Brand Informer came from.

Yes! Let’s talk about The Brand Informer. For anyone new to it, what’s the nutshell?
We make it easy for high street retailers and smaller shops to buy into licensing.

What are some of the reasons why shops struggle to embrace licensed products?
Well, a lot of shops don’t know what licensing is. Lots of smaller shops have just one buyer, and they know what sells. They know their customers and they know what their customers’ want. We want to make licensing available to as many buyers as possible.

We also have a licence calendar, so brands can make buyers aware of activity coming up around their IP, because buyers are only human and they’re only as good as the information they’re given. We’re pulling a lot of information together so retailers can anticipate demand around brands and evaluate if it’s the right opportunity for their customers.

You mentioned the calendar there, what else makes up the core of The Brand Informer?
I have two customers – the retailers and the brand owners.

Brand owners can enter details of their brands to the site and I’m here to talk them through how they describe their IP as a licensed brand, rather than just a brand. It’s about highlighting the products and what the brands are trying to achieve when it comes to consumer products.

Local shopkeepers might not care that England Rugby want to be world champions, but they will care that it’s a brand focused on producing high-quality, sustainable products, for example. It’s about talking the retailer’s language. I’m here to help brand owners describe their offering in way that’s retail-friendly, because not all brands describe their products in this way.

So brands can put all this information in, upload photos and videos of product and put all the buying information there too. It means that if a local shop wants to buy 10 licensed pencil cases, they know instantly if that is feasible with certain brands.

Brand owners also have a dashboard that details all of a brand’s products. It also shows you how many people have looked at what, so if nobody is looking at your socks, it might tell you some useful things about your products that brand owners can then raise with their licensees.

And for clarity, I take no percentage on any transaction. I charge a fee of £20 a month for a brand to register on The Brand Informer site. For that, they get access to all of the retailers that are on board.

So that’s brand owners covered. How can retailers engage with The Brand Informer?
Retailers can log in and search by target category – like socks – to instantly find the right licensed product for their customers. That hopefully addresses a problem with lots of great product isn’t finding its way to the right retailers. The information will be there so the retailer can go to licensee and order the stock they want.

Do you see this as being a great way to get more retailers engaged with licensing?
Absolutely. Lots of small retailers might say “Oh no, we only work with small independent brands”, but there’s an awful lot of small independent brands doing great licensed product but it’s that’s dressed up as limited edition or as a collab. We’re not just talking about massive, massive brands.

Why do you think there has been a disconnect between some independent stores and the licensing space?
I think it comes down to resources. Brand owners and agencies only have so much time to pick up the phone and speak to retailers. And some retailers have been stung in the past by buying the wrong product. I remember at CPLG, when Minions first came out, no-one had predicted how huge the demand would be for that because Madagascar came before and wasn’t as popular at retail.

Smaller retailers can’t take huge risks so it’s all about finding the right brands and the right products for the right retailer. Look at Polaroid’s collaboration with Lacoste earlier this year; that might be a great fit for a certain independent retailer, but they may not have the time to look around and find out it exists!

I’m here to try and get more licensed product out in the market. Smaller brands don’t necessarily have the capacity to be in huge stores like Tesco or Asda, so they want to test their brands with independent stores and see how it goes. The Brand Informer might help brands find their perfect retailer.

How can brands and retailers sign up?
Head to our site,, and all the information is there.

Great stuff. Thanks again Victoria and good luck with The Brand Informer moving forwards.

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