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Licensing Cross-industry Potential Presents Untapped Opportunities

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Euromonitor International estimates that while the combined value of industries that offer potential for licensing amounts to almost US$7 trillion globally, arguably the most licensable categories within these industries generate as much as US$3.5 trillion in combined overall global retail sales.

The following categories could debatably be among the most important for licensing across the fmcg industries: Packaged Food (Breakfast Cereals, Ice Cream, Dairy, Confectionery, Biscuits and Snack Bars, Cakes, Soup, Pasta, Sweet and Savoury Snacks), Apparel (Childrenswear, Children's Footwear, Menswear, Womenswear, Apparel Accessories), Soft Drinks (Juice, Bottled Water), Home and Garden (Home Textiles, Lighting, Dining, Kitchen), Beauty and Personal Care (Baby and Child-specific Products, Oral Care, Bath and Shower, Colour Cosmetics, Lip Products), Toys and Games (Traditional Toys and Games), Consumer Health (Wound Care, Vitamins and Dietary Supplements) and Personal Accessories (Bags and Luggage, Writing Instruments, Watches).

Size of the Prize, Total Market Sizes, World, Value, RSP, US$ million, Current prices, 2015

total licensing market global 2015

Note: Packaged Food = Breakfast cereals , Ice cream, Dairy, Confectionary, Biscuits and snack bars, Soup , Cakes, Pasta, Sweet and savoury snacks. Apparel = Childrenswear, Menswear, Womenswear, Children’s footwear, Apparel accessories. Soft Drinks = Juice, Bottled water. Home & Garden (2014) = Home textiles, Lighting, Dining, Kitchen. Beauty & Personal Care (2014) = Baby and child-specific products, Oral care, Bath and shower, Lip products, Colour cosmetics. Toys & Games (2014) = Traditional toys and games. Consumer Health = Wound care, Vitamins and dietary supplements. Personal Accessories = Bags and luggage, Writing instruments, Watches.

Licensing: A vital cross-industry parameter

As I also investigated in our "Key Global and Regional Trends Shaping Toys Licensing” global briefing, toys is one of the largest industries for licensed products, driving overall sales globally. However, the power of licensed properties stretches well beyond this and includes a broad range of fmcg industries.

Character licensing, the most important licensing category, which is made up of properties largely stemming from films, TV shows, video games and online entertainment businesses, is aimed at children via a wide range of merchandise categories such as toys, apparel, home textiles, personal accessories, packaged food and soft drinks. However, the target segment is not limited to children when it comes to licensing. While it is widely accepted that child-targeted properties often play a large role in promotional licensing, these also feature adult-targeted classic characters with an appeal that derives from a nostalgia factor. Even a number of child-orientated properties are marketed secondarily to adults by creating a “cool” factor around them.

Bearing these in mind, there are many opportunities in relevant industries thanks to the unprecedented demand for licensed goods, largely stimulated by popular film launches from Frozen to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, from Avengers and Jurassic World to Minions and Star Wars in recent years. While penetration of licensing hovers around 30% in traditional toys and games globally in value terms, even 10% of sales in other larger industries could potentially provide huge revenue streams for both licensors and licensees alike. For instance, just 10% of licensed global packaged food sales would be worth a whopping US$215 billion to tap into, whereas the same percentage for apparel and footwear and home and garden stands at US$164 billion and US$101 billion, respectively.

Does licensed food taste better?

When looking into the rationale behind the popularity of licenced products, perhaps a study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health on the “Influence of Licensed Characters on Children's Taste and Snack Preferences” could show how powerful the perception could be. During the study children significantly preferred the taste of foods that had popular cartoon characters on the packaging, compared with the same foods without. It concluded that “Branding food packages with licensed characters substantially influences young children's taste preferences and snack selection…”.

It is not surprising or something new that children would prefer products with popular characters on the packaging. However, it goes beyond a simple “preference” for or “appearance” of a particular product, even commanding sense organs to override sense assessments.


Whether licensed food really tastes better than its non-licensed counterparts, one thing is very likely –licensing is fast becoming a major factor in whether a particular product sells or not in many categories across different industries. The influx of new media as well as new film releases such as the new Star Wars, the top cross-generational global franchise, which reached cinema screens in December 2015, is further underpinning this trend. It seems as if sky is the limit – as proved by some rather unusual merchandise, possibly taking the “Nostalgia” element a bit too far...

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