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Derivative Products: Royal Family, City of Paris… How Institutions Ride the Wave of Object Marketing?

Derivative Products: Royal Family, City of Paris…
How Institutions Ride the Wave of Object Marketing?

Produit dérivé institutionnel par excellence : le fameux porte-clef Tour Eiffel.

Museums, metropolises, and cities, National Parks, Universities… These public life actors enjoy a strong attachment from their visitors and users. Some rally around strong values, and shared memories, while others are a true national pride.

Yet, institutions have “nothing to sell” except an experience, a public service. Buying and wearing their derivative products is, above all, a claim of belonging to a group, as perfectly demonstrated by the success of RATP’s online store.

Discover in this article how institutions, now convinced of the importance of brand communication, are increasingly seizing the “souvenir” business.

Cultural and Territorial Institutions: Brands Like Any Other?

Commercial Challenges

Major world metropolises, national museums, and even the Royal Family of England… None of these institutions can escape the three major challenges faced by any commercial enterprise:

  • Image (enhancing intangible heritage and asserting identity)
  • Notoriety (fostering visitor/user loyalty, turning them into ambassadors)
  • Revenue (diversifying income sources to secure turnover)

In the marketing world, few levers simultaneously address these three challenges, except for the creation of licensed derivative products (distinguished from promotional goodies).

The Principle of Licensed Derivative Products

This allows exploiting the full potential of a brand through a strategy with minimal risks: the brand grants a license to a company that bears all the financial costs to market products in its image. In return, the brand receives a royalty on the sale of these derivative products.

Used for a long time in the entertainment world (movies, video games…), the creation of licensed derivative products is relatively recent for all institutional life actors.

However, this approach has the primary advantage of turning communication not into an expense but a potential source of income!

The British monarchy has long benefited from the economic repercussions through its line of derivative products marketed by the Royal Collection Trust. In 2022, during the jubilee celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign, the royal family sold €330 million worth of derivative products. A record sum for a lucrative business reignited with each birth, marriage, or scandal within The Firm.

Territorial Marketing: The Success Story of the City of Paris

Logo ville de Paris
City of Paris logo
logo I love New York
"I love New York" logo

Paris, the first French city to develop its derivative product license

Following the example of the State of New York, which has been developing and exploiting its “I Love New York” brand since 1977 to promote tourism, the city of Paris was the first in France to understand the interest of creating and marketing a line of licensed derivative products by launching its online store in… 2013!

Indeed, under the impetus of Gildas Robert, Head of the Marketing and Communication Department of the Paris City Hall Brands, the French capital has developed a commercial brand (City of Paris) separate from the Paris City Hall institution.

The goal? To embody the values cherished by Parisians and the numerous visitors to the city: the elegance, romance, and prestige of Paris through quality products. Fashion, gastronomy, and culture play a predominant role in the developed product range. 

The City of Paris, a Brand in Symbiosis with its Territory

Teas, chocolates, and coffees featuring Parisian monuments with the century-old brand Comptoirs Richard, By Tiline faience, Nada leather goods, stationery… In 2017, the City of Paris launched its “Made in Paris” label to highlight local creators and the know-how of Parisian artisans.

The key concept of City of Paris licensed products: quality!

According to Gildas Robert, the brand aims to fight against standardization by offering prestigious, local, and refined products. A comprehensive strategic approach that gives the brand its reputation and ensures the success of its catalog.

Produits Ville de Paris
Credit photo : Arborescence Agency

Building Your Brand with Institutional Derivative Products

Valuing the Intangible through Brands

Like the City of Paris, thinking about the brand is an indispensable preliminary step in any derivative product creation strategy.

France, lagging on institutional brands, is now taking the issue seriously, notably thanks to the APIE (State Intangible Heritage Agency).

Indeed, as indicated in its practical guide for creating derivative products, the goal is no longer to sell souvenirs in museum shops today but to create strong and identifiable brands carrying values.

This work is necessary to develop sustainable marketing strategies and to valorize the intangible heritage of museums, universities, and even the French army.

The success of this approach depends on the visibility, notoriety, and financial security of these institutions, both domestically and internationally.

Preliminary Questions

In its guide, APIE defines three essential steps to implement an effective strategy:

  • Define objectives: notoriety, brand image enhancement, brand image flexibility…
  • Know its legitimacy territory: what is the core business of the brand?
  • Anticipate public expectations: what types of products do brand users prioritize?

Therefore, it is only possible to move on to the design of collections after answering these questions through in-depth brand work.

This reflection allows prioritizing the products with the best potential in their market: the most anticipated, the most representative…

Examples of Heritage Derivative Products

Once again, derivative products prove their ability to create connections. They allow institutions to control their brand image and protect themselves from inevitable counterfeits. By generating a new type of income, derivative products enable public sector actors to initiate a virtuous circle: upscale, attract new audiences, and create a community of customer ambassadors… A mechanism is long known in the Anglophone world, becoming increasingly common in France.

From now on, you won’t see museum shops the same way…

To be accompanied in creating your line of derivative products, contact MS International.

Credit Photo : Cover by Cederic Vandenberghe from Unsplash

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