The Licensing Expo starting on Tuesday is the largest such event in the world, bringing 16,000 licensors to Las Vegas. Having been in New York City for years, the show moved west for a very good reason: The big dogs playing in the intellectual property world are in Tinsel Town. But while entertainment properties -- movies, TV, games -- are the major source of licensed merchandise as well as a destination for brands to get integrated into movies and games, other sectors are catching up fast.
More and more consumer brands are finding brand equity and revenue in chocolate/peanut butter mashups. "I think, obviously, you think first and foremost entertainment and music studios, but a lot of growth over the next ten years will be CPG, food brands and heritage brands using collaboration and licensing as way to keep fresh and relevant," says Chris DeMoulin, EVP, customer development and president, licensing at show organizer Advanstar.
DeMoulin tells Marketing Daily that the largest and fastest-growing segment is fashion. "You are seeing it from Tommy Hilfiger, from Calvin Klein and others, especially in emerging markets. We created a section at the Licensing Expo for fashion brands and for the first time we have something like 40 or 50 companies coming."
According to License! Global, the top 150 licensors accounted for nearly $230 billion in retail sales of licensed products globally last year. The trade book says that for revenue, Disney Consumer Products is number one, followed by brand portfolio aggregator Iconix Brand Group. Among consumer brands, Mattel is number five Warner Bros. Consumer Products is seven; Nickelodeon, Major League Baseball and Hasbro round out the top ten.
In automotive, it's likely that the most successful licensing program is Jeep's, handled by New York-based Joester Loria. Jeep has gotten a huge push in China where it has its own branded retail outlets. "It's now a mid-tier fashion brand in China," says DeMoulin. "If you have a strong point of view as a brand, you can go into new markets. Ford [handled by Beanstalk Group, of which it is part owner] is very aggressive. GM has tried to break out sub-brands with Camaro and Corvette. Ferrari has been a global license source for years, he says, adding that VW is working on a big global push into licensing starting next year in Las Vegas and London.
Celebrities have also gotten much more aggressive with chains like Kohl's and Macy's: Jennifer Lopez, Madonna with business partner Leon Funk supplying a "Material Girl" fashion line exclusively at Macy's. Kathy Ireland has establish a veritable licensing empire, he says, adding that at this week's show Gwyneth Paltrow and Tracy Anderson are launching a lifestyle line.
When you look at China and India, the most common route is through a distributor who is a store operator. Vans has partnership in China, and Skechers has opened 500-600 stores. Harley-Davidson has cafes. "There's now a legitimate middle class in these countries and a full-immersion brand experience is what they are looking for."