The Grateful Dead has endured for generations through its music and tie-dyed, peace-loving lifestyle. But now Rhino Entertainment, a division of Warner Music Group and licensing agent for the brand, is relying on a new brand strategy to ramp up licensing efforts to ensure the brand carries on alongside its music.
Jennifer Lynch: What led to this new licensing strategy for the Grateful Dead?
Sara Nemerov: The Grateful Dead has always been a strong brand with a message that speaks to the core of the band’s beliefs and the culture of their loyal fans. The Grateful Dead and Rhino Entertainment charged our consumer products and brand licensing team with creating a strategic map for the brand that starts with target categories close to the core and expands from there. Our goal is to find new and unique ways to let people connect with and live the brand.
J.L.: For many fans, there is a culture to the Grateful Dead beyond its music. What space do you see the brand in?
S.N.: The Grateful Dead brand is in a rarified category that I call iconic music lifestyle. Not many bands are iconic enough or have the fan base that follows them like this band. There is an incredible love and support from the Grateful Dead fans, a real community. The audience for the Grateful Dead stretches across many age groups and demographics, which is unique in the music world. People of all ages from all walks of life across the whole world live the Dead.
J.L.: So, who is the Dead’s target demographic in terms of product?
S.N.: We had a consumer profile created for the Grateful Dead, [which showed] the consumer demographic core was males and females over the age of 18. That’s a huge, broad-reaching core with lots of opportunity. That doesn’t mean that we are limited to products just for the core though, even if it is huge. Interestingly, we recently sold toddler and infant apparel at retail, and they performed at the top of the charts for those particular retailers.
J.L.: How would you describe your approach in terms of choosing products to associate with the Dead brand?
S.N.: We have our eyes on unique, on-brand opportunities for the Grateful Dead, which we know the fans will love and support such as organic foods, art, bedding, bath and room décor, outdoor sports, and tailgating products to name a few. We turn down more opportunities than we partner on.
J.L.: Are there any DTR exclusives and where can consumers buy the new Grateful Dead-branded products?
S.N.: Unfortunately, most of the retail deals in the works are still confidential, but I can share that Grateful Dead products are currently sold at mass to Barneys and on the dead.net website.
J.L.: What are the latest licensing deals and what efforts are in the works for the future?
S.N.: We recently announced a partnership with Wines That Rock, legendary rock business managers RZO, and award-winning winemakers Mendocino Wine Co., to create Grateful Dead Wine. And we partnered with the San Francisco Giants team to create a Grateful Dead Day and a co-branded collection.