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Licensing Expo- A Recap


Brand licensing is a massive, and quite profitable, global empire. Worldwide sales of licensed goods soared to $241.5 Billion in 2014, the United States and Canada generating 59.8% ($144.3 Billion) of that total. Yes, those of us living in North America really love our branded merchandise- from food to fashion, sports and music, the licensing industry is booming.

In 2014, entertainment/character, corporate brand, fashion, sports and publishing rang in as the five top properties of licensed goods- they represent 94.5% of all licensed merchandise sales. Apparel, toys and fashion accessories were leading categories in retail sales, generating a collective $96.7 Billion. For big name brands and celebrities, licensing can mean some serious royalty cash (hey there, Jessica Simpson). Last year, $13.45 Billion in royalties were paid, according to the Licensing Industry Merchandiser’s Association. Not. Too. Shabby.


I recently attended the 2015 Licensing Expo in Las Vegas to get a look at this much buzzed about show and industry. In its 35th year, the show did not disappoint during its three-day stretch at Mandalay Bay’s Convention Center. Along with the usual Las Vegas suspects, there was a massive amount of eye candy to enjoy at the expo. Nearly 5,000 brands roll out the red carpet for 15,000 attendees. They had Care Bears, roaming Minions, daredevil BMX tricks and the Hulkster himself- yes, you can totally score that Hulk Hogan autograph you’ve always wanted at the Licensing Expo. I settled for a group picture with the Teletubbies (below). Here’s a visual tour and a Top 10 list of highlights, in no particular order, from the show:

  1. Big character brands were shining bright, but there was a curious undercurrent of ugly and gross being pitched by indie brands- think Garbage Pail Kids but a little less clever.
  2. Movie franchises were top dogs.
  3. Kathy Ireland has a massive brand. We knew it was big, but it’s even bigger.
  4. Blogs such as Song of Style and Cupcakes & Cashmere have developed some major credibility in licensing. Blogger merch is getting bigger and bigger.
  5. Sitting in a chair made out of Care Bears made all of our childhood dreams come true.
  6. Hexbugs are even cooler and more innovative than I thought.
  7. Gene Simmons and the Starchild are masterful marketers- look for even more KISS and Paul Stanley branding coming soon.
  8. Maui & Sons, Mr. Bubble and Members Only are still in the game.
  9. Advertising is down but licensing top magazines like Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone & Better Homes and Gardens for consumer products, is up.
  10. Health and beauty is massively underrepresented in licensing. Let’s get on it.



L-R: My Little Pony, Transformers


L-R:, Care Bears, Calaveritas & Star Trek


L-R: Village People, Popsicle, Monopoly & WWE


L-R: Mr. Bubble, Distroller, Powerpuff Girls, Ice Age/ 20th Century Fox


L-R: KISS, Nickelodeon Paw Patrol, Sun Bum & Brandettes’ Nikola Cline w/Teletubbies

Images above, top. L-R: Care Bear chair & Hasbro

Featured Image: The Littlest Pet Shop


Source: Inside Licensing, 2015. Published by the International Licensing Industry Merchandiser’s Association (LIMA).



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