Staying Cool

Licensing deals in the refrigerator category have been relatively rare, primarily limited to appliance and electronics brand extensions—which, while few in number, can generate significant sales—as well as occasional novelties. Whirlpool would be an example of the former, with its licensed collection of compact refrigerators, and Hello Kitty of the latter, with its Sakar-produced line of mini-fridges.

Recently, however, there has been a burst of activity in the category, with a diverse group of licensors entering. Some of the announcements that have come to light since December 2015 include:

  • Black + Decker licensing W Appliance for refrigerators, freezers, and wine coolers, as well as other appliances such as humidifiers and fans.
  • Anheuser-Busch authorizing Danby to produce Budweiser and Bud Light refrigerators.
  • Fashion label Dolce and Gabbana pairing with Smeg, an Italian appliance brand, for a limited edition of 100 refrigerators, each brightly hand-painted by artists commissioned by D&G.
  • AC/DC including refrigerator marketer Husky Deutschland among its newest group of partners.

Some of these agreements focus on smaller refrigerators suitable for storing a few bottles or six-packs. Others, including the D&G collection, consist of full-sized household models.

In the past, refrigerator makers would have sought, for the most part, true brand-extension opportunities with licensed properties that were a very close fit with the category. After all, a refrigerator is a major household purchase that must last for years. But as some of these deals illustrate, that goal is less often the case these days. Certainly properties from a wider range of sources are actively considering the category than in the past, and the frequency of deals is on the rise as well.

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