Licensed Fashion Products Drove $16.9 Billion in 2013 Sales

Sales of licensed products (items bearing the trademarked names and likenesses of cartoon characters, corporate logos and brands, major sports teams and more) continued their upward trajectory in 2013 for the third straight year -- resulting in an estimated $5.655 billion in royalty revenue in the U.S. and Canada, translating to $115.75 billion in retail sales, an increase of 3.3 percent and 3.25 percent, respectively, above 2012 levels, according to the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association's (LIMA) Annual Licensing Industry Survey.

Leading the advance are the industry's five largest categories: Character, Corporate Trademarks, Sports, Fashion, and Collegiate. Together, they represented 94 percent of the overall licensing revenues in 2013.

The latest annual report from LIMA, the leading trade organization for the worldwide licensing industry, points to consumers' continuing confidence and trust in established brands and licensors' quest for long-term revenue streams. The report, which was researched and assembled by a team from the Yale School of Management, is now available free to LIMA members in advance of Licensing Expo 2014, the industry's largest yearly event that kicks off on June 17 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

"Licensing activity enjoyed strong growth in 2013, reflecting the importance of licensing as a business and marketing tool," said LIMA president Charles Riotto. "Our industry and our members continue to strategically leverage the equity of their brands, characters, and intellectual property with even more creative and robust licensing programs that successfully connected with consumers and drove healthy sales."

Following are just a few highlights from the new report:
  • Character-related merchandise (encompassing Entertainment/TV/Movie and Celebrities – The largest classification, accounting for $2.66 billion in royalty revenues and an estimated $51.44 billion in retail sales, up 4.3 percent from 2012. Royalty rates are generally higher in this category compared with others, accounting for 47.2 percent of total industry revenues.
  • Digital technology continues to adversely impact the appeal of traditional toys, and the world of digital apps has created new brands that have expanded to both digital and physical retail channels.
  • Corporate and Brand Name – Licensing royalties in the second largest category were estimated at $965 million, representing about 17.1 percent of industry revenues, and an estimated $22.5 billion in retail sales, or 19.4 percent of the overall licensed retail business.
  • Strong growth in home improvement and home decor are expected this year and in the future.
  • Fashion – The third largest category in licensing, Fashion royalties rose to an estimated $770 million, accounting for 13.7 percent of total revenues, up 2.0 percent from the prior year. Based on these royalty rates, retail sales of licensed fashions translated to $16.9 billion in 2013.
  • The changes in the industry are being driven by greater use of exclusives for mid-tier and mass merchandising segments. Category growth is linked to beauty (i.e., fragrances/perfumes) as well as strong performance in the apparel and the accessories segments.
  • Sports (Leagues, Individuals) – Consisting of major sports leagues, which account for a majority of the licensing revenue generated, royalty revenue rose 1.9 percent to $698 million over the previous year, translating into retail sales of about $12.8 billion.
  • Longer strategic partnerships, continued reorganization at retail, growth opportunity in retailers' own label products, and direct-to-consumer sales through digital and specialty physical channels show strength. An important long-term opportunity is the extension of sports properties in healthier food and beverage segments, travel and the women's market.
In addition to these categories, the annual survey presented royalty revenues and retail sales results for Collegiate, Music, Publishing, Non-Profit, and Art.

LIMA's 2013 Licensing Industry Report is available free to LIMA members and $295 for non-members. 
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