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State of the Industry Report Published by Licensing International

State of the Industry Report Published by Licensing International

Licensing International today released a 30-page special report, “Looking Forward: The State of the Licensing Business,” that explores the trends, opportunities, and challenges facing the global licensing industry. Presented in partnership with Miller Kaplan, the report also features the perspectives of 35+ brand licensing executives from across the world. The report is available for download at

“The last 18 months has shown the underlying strength of the licensing business and spotlighted companies’ ability to adapt to new circumstances, even as many of the assumptions and underpinnings of normal business practices were upended by the global pandemic,” said Maura Regan, President of Licensing International. “We look forward to supporting and leading a robust licensing industry as it – and the world at large – identifies and seizes opportunities in a reformulated post-COVID world.”

Highlights from the special report include:

The year 2020, with lives upended in so many ways, was characterized by a notable uptick for many classic brands as consumers gravitated toward the familiar. Several of licensing executives say that people at all levels of the licensing food chain are “looking inward on brands” – seeking names and suppliers from within their own borders and cultures. 

Videogames, collectibles and trading cards are categories that performed strongly though the pandemic, in large part due the fact that lockdowns limited other out-of-house entertainment options. That’s expected to continue at least through 2021, if not further, particularly as the latter two categories interplay with the nascent category of NFTs. Brand owners of all sorts are trying to figure out whether/how they fit into the business of selling digital collectibles in the form of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), and to develop strategies around the category.

With “non-essential” retail extremely limited in most countries during the pandemic, physical retailers adapted by quickly ramping up their ecommerce marketing and operations, and by expanding their activities in such modes as “Buy online, pick up at curb,” “Buy online, pick up in store,” and other such hybrid approaches. According to Salesforce’s Shopping Index, European e-commerce grew by 47% in 2020 — slightly lower than the 56% growth rate for the world. Emarketer forecasts that 52.1% of China’s retail sales will come from ecommerce in 2021, up from 44.8% a year prior. 

Perspectives from global licensing executives include:

“The pandemic re-emphasized the need to be thoughtful and diligent about selecting partners. It’s clear that some companies were vulnerable to poor-sourcing, inventory mismanagement, unforeseen rising material prices and shipping challenges. And with no history of what it means to operate during a pandemic, many manufacturers oversold or over-committed and we are now watching the impact of those decisions affect sales and open to buys.” – Jay Asher, Partner, Brandgenuity

“A strong Ecomm distribution set-up has helped many partners to diversify their business and to sell where we were able to sell products during times of lockdown…We have also understood how important – especially for smaller or new properties – the visibility at brick-and-mortar-retail is and how this is driving brand awareness and impulse buying. Offering variety and creating positive shopping and brand experiences will be an important factor to drive traffic at retail.” – Natalie Berling-Noé, Director GSA Consumer Products, Hasbro Deutschland GmbH

“During the pandemic, we saw a shift in customer behaviours and trends. Digital streaming platforms grew massively in popularity during lockdown as more and more customers turned to these services for entertainment. This has had an impact on traditional entertainment and we have seen a rise in popularity in some of our key partnerships in this area.” – Sarah Jackson, Director of Licensing, Primark

The “Looking Forward: The State of the Licensing Industry” special report is free for Licensing International members. Non-members may purchase the 30-page report for $495. Visit for more information and to download the report.

About The Author

Rebecca Ash

Rebecca is the Editorial Director at Total Licensing Ltd. She can be reached at

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