“Where The Licensing Buisness Is Headed” was the topic addressed by Martin Brochstein, senior vice-president of Industry Relations & Information for the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (212-244-1944, licensing.org), and guest speaker at the annual Home Fashion Products Association meeting, held Nov. 8, 2018, at 295 Fifth Avenue in New York. Here are highlights of Brochstein’s presentation.
In 2017, $271.6 billion was generated by the licensing business with $19.4 coming from the home décor sector. Although the U.S. and Canada remain the largest markets for licensed goods, the percentage has been declining in recent years as consumption grows in the rest of the world, notably in Latin America and China.
Refresher On What’s In It For Whom To License
Motivations for licensees include, of course, increasing brand awareness as well as the opportunity to establish new profit centers, refresh an image and strengthen relevance and engagement with consumers.
Benefits of licensing for manufacturers include providing a shortcut for getting products to the marketplace, opening up new retail distribution channels, and creating credibility and recognition.
Advantages to retailers include focusing their image, and the ability to offer design exclusivity and to achieve a shortcut to market. Retailers today also are building private label brands as leverageable assets. Target, for example, has six billion-dollar brands among its private labels. Some view private labels as a threat because of the shelf space they take away from other generic and licensed products.
Forward Direction: Living The Brand
Brands have always needed to connect emotionally with consumers to succeed. The difference today is consumers aren’t satisfied merely with merchandise—they crave experiences. So many brands beyond home textiles are connecting with consumers by collaborating with a variety of companies to create lifestyle experiences. Examples: jeweler Bulgari has opened eponymous luxury hotels, vacation experiences are offered on Cartoon Network Wave cruise ships, and car maker Ferrari opened Ferrari World theme park in Abu Dhabi.
This “experiential licensing” allows merchandise-based brands to reach into other markets that enable consumers to “live the brand.” It is also part of a larger retail disruption that centers on “blended” strategies—moving away from “pure” vertical structures to multi-venue endeavors. For example, Amazon, no longer solely online, is sending out printed toy catalogs and opening brick-and-mortar stores.
Where and how brands originate today also embraces a wider range of options. Celebrities, sports figures and other “famous” professionals are now joined by influencers, super-influencers and micro-influencers who rise to a degree of fame via the internet, tv and other media and seek to establish licensed lines. So although the opportunities for success are growing in the licensing universe, so are the complexities and challenges to be mastered in order to achieve licensing success.