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Global sales of licensed merchandise and services pass $300bn milestone

Global sales of licensed merchandise and services have passed the $300 billion milestone, as the overall licensing industry grew by 7.75% since 2019.

The figures are from Licensing International’s seventh annual Global Licensing Industry Study, which was conducted by Brandar Consulting.

Released ahead of next week’s Licensing Expo (24-26 May), the topline figures also show that some pandemic trends continue to strongly shape the global licensing industry.

Notably, the report showcases there was a flight towards stable, evergreen properties with both consumer comfort and staying power being the key drivers behind this switch.

“The study highlights the impressive growth the licensing industry has seen over the past two years,” commented Maura Regan, president of Licensing International. “With the constant emergence of new innovations and trends, there are some incredible opportunities to grow even further, some of which will be previewed at next week’s Licensing Expo.”

The global sizing study contains two years’ worth of economic data, country-level data, product market data, royalty rate data and company-level financials, painting a full picture of what has transpired in the licensing industry.

Notable findings from the early release of the study include:

  • Retail – an explosion of e-commerce emerged across the retail landscape, capturing 34% of global licensed sales as businesses fully embraced the move, noting a two-fold benefit of increasing distribution when physical shelf space was so compressed, while also increasing their profit margins.
  • Celebrities – celebrity licensing saw significant growth (30.1%) because it served as a very close proxy to entertainment properties, with established celebrity brands being viewed as more evergreen with longer term staying power at retail.
  • Sports – with Name, Image & Likeness (NIL) licensing becoming a reality for college athletes, the collegiate sports category was up 18.6%, showing even stronger growth than the overall sports category, which grew 8%.
  • Publishing – with the pandemic leading to a renewed interest in leisure reading, publishing properties saw a resurgence in the licensing world growing share for a fifth year in a row, now accounting for 8.5% of the global licensing business.


The report dives further into additional categories, touching upon pressing topics within the industry including sustainability, royalties and counterfeiting among others.

Further results from Licensing International’s 2022 Global Licensing Industry Study will be published in a complete report, including regional and country by country breakdowns for major markets. The full report will be made available for free to Licensing International members on 24 June and will also be available for purchase by non-members.

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