Dec 13, 2018

The Ultimate List of Brand Licensing Events to Attend in 2019

In many industries, events keep gaining popularity as a way for companies to promote their brands and network with other industry players. Similarly, brand licensing events, expos and trade fairs have become must-go for every player seeking new business opportunities and prospects.

Every player in this dynamic industry has their reasons to attend such events.

  • Brand owners are primarily interested in showcasing new properties and licensed products, sourcing new licensee leads, and nurturing the existing licensee relationships
  • In contrast, licensees get to show their know-how and find new, high-potential properties to license.
  • Agents aim to demonstrate their market presence and strength and meet with prospects to discuss collaboration perspectives.
  • Finally, service providers attend expos to gain market visibility, find new business opportunities, and build their network.

For each of the needs, there are specific events to attend. Considering the abundance of events in the licensing industry, the (right) attendance choices are often difficult to make.

This article breaks this abundance down to specific event types and suggests the ones worth attending per the key event functions.  

Major Brand Licensing Conferences

Among the largest brand licensing events, the two that deserve special mentions are Brand Licensing Europe, commonly known as BLE, and the Licensing Expo. Organized once a year (each) in London and Las Vegas respectively, these conferences gather nearly all influential players in the industry.

The “big” expos are all about making business and active networking.  Attendees spend most of their time on commercial meetings at their or their partners’ stands or in meeting areas.

Attending these expos is useful out of networking and educational consideration alike as their programs often include seminars and workshops. The industry’s well-known thought leaders hold the seminars at big licensing conferences.  

Typical seminar topics include industry trends, best licensing practices, the hottest properties to watch, and other licensing-related matters. Attendees are encouraged to hold discussions at round tables and sometimes even hold side events as a part of an expo’s program.  

Thematic Licensing Events

In addition to the largest industry events, there are other strategically important events that gather industry professionals throughout Europe and the United States. These conferences differ by size and scope, yet they tend to have more “narrow” themes, e.g., toy or sports fairs. It's also common for such events to focus on local licensing markets.

Among the biggest thematic licensing shows in the U.S. are the NYC Licensing Summit, Sports Licensing and Tailgating Show, and the American International Toy Fair. In Asia, Hong Kong International Licensing Show and Licensing Expo Japan are fairly popular and are more and more attracting the attention of international licensing companies. Likewise, in Europe, the Nuremberg International Toy Fair is increasing in popularity among global players.

Conversely, there are numerous significant brand licensing events that each contribute to its industry's ever-dynamic growth. Key examples are MIPCOM and Annecy International Animation events in Europe and Comic-Con International, Kidscreen Summitand CES in the U.S.

At these events, licensing companies can learn more about the upcoming trends in the entertainment and media industries from the trendsetters and creators of the hottest properties.

Local Licensing Conferences

As international brand licensing markets are actively growing in all corners of the globe, so does the number of local licensing events. Today, we can see numerous local trade fairs gaining momentum, including NYC Licensing Summit,  the Sports Licensing and Tailgating Show, and American International Toy Fair in the U.S. and Kazachok, Bologna Licensing Trade Fair, Nuremberg ToyFair, and Licensing World Russia in Europe.

During the past few years, the brand licensing industry has been exponentially growing also in Latin America and Asia. Proof of this trend is the abundance of Latin America- and Asia-based expos that year after year keep attracting more and more players and professionals to their venues.

Latin America’s and Asia’s most prominent licensing shows include Expo Licencias y Marcas Show, Expo Licensing LATAM. On the other side of the globe, the Hong Kong Licensing Show and Korea Character Licensing Fair, Licensing Expo Japan and India Licensing Expo are the biggest local licensing shows.

Networking Events Organized By LIMA

Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, or LIMA, is an organization that stands behind the majority of conferences and trade fairs in the licensing industry. However, its contribution to its prosperity doesn’t stop there, as the organization also hosts local networking events and seminars in many countries throughout the year.

Themes of such events change year by year, yet the most common locations traditionally are New York, Los Angeles, and London. The list of LIMA’s upcoming networking and reception events can be found in the organization’s events calendar.

Events Organized By Industry Players

Apart from actively attending licensing events locally and internationally, many industry players choose to organize their own events. Industry players organize such events for different purposes, including networking, prospecting, and promotions. Often such events are held concurrently with the bigger expos like BLE, though they can also be organized locally as small receptions and gatherings.

Our team organized such an event in Helsinki earlier this year, where we invited five North American licensing industry leaders, including LIMA’s president Maura Regan, to share insights on trends and best practices with Finnish market players. You can read more about the outcome here.

Brand Licensing Events: Worth Attending?

Brand licensing events are always interesting to attend for both the established industry players and the newcomers seeking growth. However, not every one of them should expect a similar ROI from attending licensing events. Truth be told, most of the industry expos and conferences are not cheap to attend, especially considering the travel expenses involved.

Yet, depending on individual goals of a company, the benefits of attending, say, BLE or Licensing Expo can outweigh the expense factor. After all, participants can raise the awareness of their programs, properties, or products, seize visibility they seek and gain an advantage at active networking.

Are you attending any licensing events in 2019?

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