This week, we spoke to Alisa Stromberg from our Client Partnerships team about her experience in licensing and technology and her love of fashion and retail. She gave us her insight into the industry as it stands and the evolution and innovation taking place.
Hi Alisa, thanks for your time! Firstly, tell us about yourself and your background…
My background is in fashion retail and brand management. I worked for a number of big fashion brands such as Michael Kors and New Look, expanding them into about twenty new markets, establishing operations internationally, as well as expanding into new categories, and forging relationships between the brands and licensing partners.
I then moved into brand management at CAA-GBG, taking brands into new categories. I worked across the entire portfolio, introducing them into retail and experiential categories.
At the time, it struck me the amount of unavailable information for licensors and the lack of ability to extract accurate information on products. Coming from a vertical brand, it was something that really surprised me – I couldn’t understand how such important things were not known upfront, ahead of royalty reconciliation.
I was there for three to fours years before I was introduced to Andrew at Fabacus – and it was a no-brainer that technology like Xelacore was needed to evolve the industry. I saw it as a huge leap into the future, which I really wanted to be a part of.
I also really wanted to know more about how tech could innovate the industry and shape the future of consumer interaction and service the industry better, making it more efficient, more collaborative, transparent and influencing business in positive ways.
And it is now over two years later…
Amazing, such varied experience in-house, on the agency side, and now through technology. So did you always want to work within licensing and retail?
When I finished my degree, I went to work for a fashion distributor, and then on moving back to the UK from Finland, I had experience there and wanted to stay connected within the industry.
The journey from fashion to brand management, to licensing and technology, I feel are connected, as I’ve been on a journey with my knowledge, and it’s given me an opportunity to improve ways of working. It’s hugely motivating to know we can make an impact as all the team understands how things work and have been in the business themselves.
It is also interesting how I have applied all the things I have learnt throughout my roles and spotting those gaps that technology can help aid.
Throughout the experience in those roles, what would you say are the major changes you have seen play out over the past two years within licensing and retail?
I would say it is definitely become faster-moving and also more receptive to evolution, new ways of working and how to innovate.
People don’t like to fix what isn’t broken – it makes sense. However, given the events of this year, I think people are so much more open to learning from each other to deepen collaboration and connections across the industry, which is amazing to see and be a part of.
You can see that from events happening in the industry too, there is so much knowledge transfer and sharing of information and learning from each other, rather than just showcasing own case studies.
For example, look at the conversations around blockchain, NFTs and how technology can be applied to licensing and how it can propel it forward and innovate it. I do not believe those conversations or sharing would have happened a few years ago. Eyes are being opened to the possibility of how businesses can be grown through technology and how it can help evolve the sector.
It’s exciting to be a part of and help drive forward.
So what is a typical day at Fabacus like for you then?
There isn’t a typical day! We are such a fast-moving, fast-growing company – there are always conversations with new brand partners, new licensees, new technology advancements.
The main part I love is working across all different business functions. I’m working with developers, with the clients themselves, our marketing – it is really a 360 approach to being involved in the business. The agility is super exciting and not necessarily something you get in a wider or larger organisation where you have one specific role.
Speaking of those advancements and working in a fast-moving company, where do you see the industry in the next 5 years? What key changes do you think there will be?
In line with deeper collaboration industry-wide, I would say the movement to more knowledge-based, data-driven decision making and partnerships. By having a foundation of insight leading to a data-driven strategy, there will be a stronger collaboration between licensors and licensees in order to grow brands.
Technology then makes this seamless and more agile. We are building out an ecosystem for a future that allows brands to make a better consumer experience.
I see fewer silos, more connection – a connected world of licensing actually means that, so all players in the chain are connected for the benefit of everyone, including the end consumer.
I hope this way of working won’t be novel or new in 5 years time, but just be an evolved, standard way of working.
How do you think technology like Xelacore can play a role in that standard way of working?
At Fabacus, we are enabling this connection to take place between siloed business and siloed information sets for seamless data transfer. Ultimately we not only benefit the business we are working with but the consumer too.
It is the only solution today that is looking into the cause of the issues existing today, rather than a solution that is trying to fix an outcome that already exists. Basically, our technology isn’t plugging holes without understanding why it is happening.
By getting to the root cause, a number of issues, as well as future innovations, can take place at once – better efficiency, a more robust approach to licensing – from brand protection, to effectively identify projects, proactively fight counterfeit, increase discoverability and trust, and ultimately connect licensor, licensee and consumer offering a better brand experience.
Additionally, through this technology, for the first time, licensors can get consumer insights that were previously only owned by retailers, giving physical products a much longer lifecycle.
Licensed brands can develop better, more audience-led ranges, as well as establish a communication line with your consumer base.
Through your experience, is there one main pain point you have consistently seen occurring across businesses within the licensing industry?
The complexities of licensing give you a whole new appreciation for streamlined communication and accurate, governed data.
Without live product information in front of you proactively, it is hard to make strategic brand decisions. You’re relying on a partner to give you the information in order to make decisions for your business. Currently, licensors are completely removed from the value chain until it comes to royalties. It’s the best guess set-up.
Now there is a focus on wanting to see more within businesses, wanting to know of missed opportunities or possibilities, making businesses data-driven.
In my past roles, the number of times I tried to launch experiential concepts with different licensees and found it near impossible to have accurate, up to date data. How can licensors bring a brand experience to a consumer if they’re not in control of their own data?
They’re missing out on opportunities and trends that are available with consumers that can make or break brands, and currently, there is nothing they can do about it as they don’t have the access, the data, or the visibility. But that is changing and evolving, and it’s so great to be a part of spearheading this innovation.
With the data you talk of now available, what can brands be doing more to provide value for consumers, especially given the events of the past 18 months?
I would say it is no longer about the pure product itself, it is about exciting and delighting the consumer.
Regardless of touchpoints, digital or physical, the consistency of brand message is so important and powerful. Ultimately people buy into brands, they are not necessarily buying the t-shirt cause it is a t-shirt, it is the connection to the brand and how it makes consumers feel.
Also, from the business perspective, this gives licensed brands an opportunity to support your partners to promote and cross-promote their products with your brand IP – engaging and re-engaging consumers. So, for instance, you don’t have apparel separate from beauty – the whole base is supporting each other to sell products as one brand.
This was not really possible before, but now with the same effort through Xelacore Reach, licensors can support all their licensees at a brand level and offer something special to consumers – meaning bigger return and benefit for the same input. But it needs the quality data, shared data – that unlocks the possibility and enables the tools we have to do these campaigns.
Finally, who would be your dream client… if they’re not already?
Honestly, our dream is to provide the new standard way of working for the entire industry, the more players we have to join the bigger the benefit to the entire industry. It is not about one or two players, it’s about everyone coming on board to transform the entire industry.
Amazing. Thanks, Alisa.
Richard Price, Managing Director of Clothing and Home at M&S to join the Fabacus Advisory Board.
Fabacus today announced the appointment of seasoned retail executive, Richard Price, to their