Disney's Approach Points To A Healthy Future For Brand Licensing: Analysis
As Walt Disney, the founder of the media conglomerate now known as The Walt Disney Company, once put it, "times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future".
The erstwhile animator could just as easily have been talking about the machinations of the grocery industry, particularly when it comes to tackling the growing issue of obesity among younger consumers.
This April, the UK and Ireland will become the latest countries to impose a sugar tax, with the UK's Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) recently describing the move as a "crucial development for the health of our children, who receive the highest proportion of their added sugar intake from such drinks".
In addition to such taxes, efforts have also been made to lessen the presence of high-sugar or fatty products on television during viewing hours for children - adverts for confectionery now inevitably find themselves broadcast after the watershed, and are generally aimed at 'mums', often the custodians of portion control in the household.
But in an era in which sugar is increasingly being portrayed as the 'evil queen', we should look at how companies such as Disney are taking an approach to brand licensing that could - and arguably should - be adopted by others.
In 2006, Disney developed a series of Nutritional Guidelines, outlining its forward strategy regarding food licensing, as well as relating to the products served in its theme parks.
These nutritional guidelines were built around six pillars, under which the company 'champions the happiness and well-being of kids, parents, and families [and supports] healthy lifestyles for all ages by offering and portraying a balance of nutritious options'.
The Guidelines encourage the consumption of 'nutritious foods that contribute to a healthful diet such as whole foods and minimally-processed foods like fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and lean proteins', while also seeking to eliminate ingredients such as trans fats, hydrogenated oils and caffeine.
And since these guidelines have been introduced, Disney has been proactive in developing relationships with suppliers of fresh produce and snack manufacturers that are aligned with this goal.
For example, in 2016, the company teamed up with a major fruit producer to develop a co-branded assortment of fresh produce featuring Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel characters - brands which all under the Disney umbrella.
Other tie-ups have seen the business link in with producers of confectionery developed from healthy ingredients, with no added sugar and no artificial flavours or colourings.
Happiness And Well-Being
Announcing one such partnership in 2017, a Disney spokesperson said, “Disney champions the happiness and well-being of kids, parents and families, and we believe we can play a positive role in helping people make healthier choices.”
While national governments seem to believe that taxation is the 'cure' to society's ills, big businesses such as Disney have been championing a different approach; one that is more likely to have a lasting impression on some of our most important consumers - our children.
Whether that makes any difference to Europe's legislators remains to be seen.
© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.