Investing in AI and automation to drive growth of celebrity cut-outs

03 May 2022

A manufacturer of life-size cardboard cut-outs of celebrities, Disney and Star Wars characters is anticipating game-changing growth after investing in trend analysis software and AI.

UK-based Star Cutouts prints on demand and distributes an array of 3,000 characters, including the British Royal family, celebrities, sports stars, as well as film and TV stars. 

With the help of Made Smarter’s North West adoption programme, the business is investing £30,000 in software that will enable it to monitor media to help improve its speed and accuracy in reacting to trends, such as the South Korean survival drama Squid Game.

Supported by a £324,000 investment in new automation machinery, Ian Ravey, managing director at Star Cutouts, forecasts the business can increase sales and turnover five-fold within the next five years, as well as create a new digital role in the business and upskill its marketing and design team.

“Big data and analytics offer a huge and exciting opportunity for us to not just be quicker to react to trends, but to influence them,” said Ravey. “The increased accuracy of our product launches will save time and resources, making better use of our design team. We will be able to use that efficiency to focus on growth.

“Our strategy is to combine the latest digital tools to understand our customers and increase production through new machinery and continuously improve processes. This is a major first step. We predict the impact of our strategy will be huge and we are grateful to Made Smarter for supporting and accelerating the opportunity.”

One of Star Cutouts’ major challenges is managing the risk of launching new products. “Selecting the right character is extremely time consuming as it involves research via social media to spot who and what is trending,” explained Tavey. “Sentiment also changes so quickly day to day. When you are spending a considerable amount on licensing agreements you need to be confident in your investment.”

The new software will monitor a huge archive of characters, as well as identify new trends and analyse other metrics including geography. This business intelligence will be instantly fed to the management and design team via a bespoke platform to support decision making on product development.

“Our investment will enable us to react quicker to trends and popularity. We will also know where in the world the fans of certain characters are and target marketing accordingly to increase sales.”

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