Jul 16, 2019

2019 Market Trends From the $280 bn Licensing Industry

Last month, Licensing International released its Annual Global Licensing Industry Survey. In the month since the licensing community has used the data to refine its strategies for the upcoming year and beyond.

To recap, the survey yielded that total licensing revenue increased to $280.3 billion in 2018, a 3.2 percent increase year over year. Royalty revenues hit $15 billion, up 4 percent.

With the taste for film and movies at an all-time high, the entertainment and character categories continued to lead with $122.7 billion or a 43.8 percent hold of the market. Corporate brands generated $58.8 billion (21 percent), fashion accounted for $32.2 billion (11.5 percent), and sports yielded $27.8 billion (9.9 percent). The U.S. and Canada were the largest markets for licensed good with 58 percent or $162.6 billion (up 3.1 percent). Seventy-nine percent came from brick-and-mortar in 2018, compared to 21 percent from online sales.

Here, we explore how this unique insight can help you create, launch, and succeed in licensing.

Regional Expansion

As the study shows, the U.S. and Canada continue to consume the most licensed products. Because these countries have large populations and stable economies, disposable incomes and demand entice brand owners to launch new products in the region each year. Brand owners from the U.S. and Canada may find it easier to build and launch products in their home territories, where they have established themselves and have relationships.

However, the numbers also show that emerging markets, including Latin America, Northern Asia, and Southern Asia/Pacific all experienced growth above 5 percent. For brand owners and manufacturers interested in breaking out of the crowded North American field, emerging markets that competitors have not penetrated or are not willing to immerse themselves in may be a good bet. Emerging markets can be more open to innovative products, appreciate particular aesthetics, or need unique products in a way that larger markets do not.

Category Growth

By now, the phrase “content is king” has been uttered by every licensing executive in the world. With streaming services, tv channels, and film studios churning out new content every day, fans are continually looking to validate their fanfare through licensed products and goods. For manufacturers, this can be especially exciting.

Manufacturers who specialize in one of a kind items or who have found a way to innovate may be attractive to IP owners who want to offer their fans products that speak to their fanbase in a profound way, such as a wand to compliment as a wizardly character.

It was no surprise that fashion continued to grow. Improvements in technologies and the ability to create and produce textiles faster than ever before have made fashion extremely attractive to consumers and creators.

Brand owners who want to promote their brand may wish to collaborate with classic fashion brands or new manufacturers. Fashion is unique in that followings can be hyperspecific (think sneakerheads) or broad (women who wear dresses). If the right celebrity or influencer happens to come across your fashion collaboration, you can find success for both the licensed collaboration and your core brand.

Brick and Mortar vs. Online

Another statement that has become popular in licensing? “Retail is dead.” But, as this year’s survey showed us, it is still alive and well. While younger consumers are increasingly opting for the convenience of online shopping, brick and mortar stores even have a more significant share of the market. However, the demands at brick and mortar are higher than they were in the past. Consumers are looking to have experienced while they shop, not to complete a transaction.

While we can expect to see online shopping continue to grow, brand owners who want to keep their customers happy will want to ensure that their customers are delighted when they walk into their store, wish to return and recommend it to their friends.

Licensing International’s (formerly LIMA) global was conducted in association with Brandar Consulting. For the full report, visit

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