We caught up with Steph, the Hasbro UK Star Wars Brand Manager, and posed a number of questions to her and the rest of the Hasbro UK team.
A BIG thanks goes to Steph for taking the time out of her schedule to answer these.
Read on for what she had to say…
Jedi News: How many people work within the Star Wars team at Hasbro UK?
There are a number of people across the Hasbro business that contribute to the Star Wars brand. In addition to the Brand Marketers, our Sales, Inventory, Visual Merchandising and Operations departments all play a key role in ensuring that we have a strong Star Wars offering to meet demand, supported by an effective marketing communications programme to engage our consumers.
Jedi News: How far in advance do you work with new products?
We have a strong team in the US who dedicate a lot of time developing our product lines to ensure that we have a strong Star Wars offering that meets the needs of our consumers. For the UK market we work approximately one year in advance to select product lines and develop our strategies for the following year.
Jedi News: How often do you get to speak to the US development team and discuss new products?
As part of our planning cycle we have processes in place across the company to review the products in development for the following year. As part of this process we provide feedback on the line including our thoughts on the items presented as well as any additional opportunities or concerns in our local market that we need to address.
Jedi News: Are there any products that the UK has helped to develop and if so what were they?
Our product development is led by the US but UK feedback is given across the range to ensure that our product line is relevant for our market.
Jedi News: With so many products available how do you decide which products to bring to the UK and to which retailers?
Wherever possible we strive to offer as much of the Star Wars line to the UK market as possible. When considering exclusives there are a number of factors to consider but we strive to place the right products in the right place to meet the needs of our customers and consumers.
Jedi News: Are you offered products by Hasbro US, or do you have to request it? Are Hasbro in the US open to your input in terms of product that might appeal to collectors in the UK that might not necessarily fit with plans for US collectors?
As part of our planning cycle we have processes in place across the company to review the product line and give our feedback. Due to the size of the US market there may be additional items in the Star Wars line that are not available in the UK. However, if these items are particularly successful or we believe there is sufficient demand for them in our market they may be introduced in other markets at a later stage.
The size of the US market and similarities between this and the UK collector market usually means that if an item appeals to the collector market in the UK there will also be a demand for it in the US. There are occasions where we may adapt product lines for different markets, for example the Celebration Europe exclusives included a collector coin that was unique to this event.
Jedi News: What is involved in securing product that has been offered exclusively to a retailer that is not represented in the UK?
We would look at this on a line by line basis and strive to ensure that the right products are available in the right channels.
Jedi News: How frustrating is it when you can’t get a product brought to the UK that you know fans have requested and have you ever had to fight to bring a product to the UK?
We value our collector market in the UK and endeavour to make a wide product range available to satisfy their demands. When considering whether to bring in additional products we need to take into account the potential for the product in our market and any associated implications, for example, following any necessary procedures to ensure that our products are compliant with EU regulations.
Jedi News: Do certain lines come to the UK after a ‘trial’ in the US, such as the recent Comic Packs?
Due to the size of the US market there may be additional items in the Star Wars line that are not available in the UK. However, if these items are particularly successful or we believe there is sufficient demand for them in our market they may be introduced in other markets at a later stage.
Jedi News: Do you not feel that the UK market would benefit from a consistent ‘Greatest Hits’ line such as Saga Legends to maintain a presence of core characters on the pegs?
In the 2 years since the release of Episode III, our main figure lines (Saga and 30th Anniversary collections) have included characters from across the Saga which helps to ensure that we always have key characters available. We then have the Saga Legends range as a supplementary offering.
Jedi News: What’s the team’s greatest achievement to date?
Following an extremely successful year in 2005, it has been great to see the Star Wars line continuing to perform strongly in the 2 post-movie years and in such a busy market!
Jedi News: If there’s one thing the team could do to change or improve the Star Wars brand in the UK what would it be?
We are very pleased with the brand’s continuing strong performance. Rather than choosing one thing to change we always ensure that we review the impact of all our activity which then allows us to incorporate this into our plans for the future.