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Global sales of licensed products reach $280.3 billion

Marks fifth straight year of growth for the licensing industry.

Global retail sales of licensed merchandise and services grew to $280.3 billion in 2018, a 3.2% increase over the $271.6 billion generated in 2017, according to topline results of the 5th Annual Global Licensing Survey, released today (June 4) by Licensing International.

Royalty revenue for brand owners leapt to $15 billion, an almost 4% increase from 2017.

The US and Canada accounted for 58% of worldwide consumption of licensed goods and services with $162.6 billion (up 3.1% from the prior year), while the Latin America, Northern Asia and Southern Asia/Pacific markets experienced the strongest year-over-year increases in licensing business, each showing growth of more than 5% for the year.

Licensing International – known previously as LIMA – commissioned Brandar Consulting, LLC to conduct the survey for the fifth consecutive year. The survey results have shown steady growth year-over-year, with a 16% leap in revenue over the course of the five years the survey has been conducted.


The entertainment/character sector was by far the largest category, accounting for $122.7 billion, or 43.8% of the total global licensing market. Notably, the second-largest sector – corporate brands – showed the highest growth rate (5.5% year over year) of the top four sectors with $58.8 billion (21%) of the overall business, attributed to the staying power of name brands in today’s challenging retail environment. Fashion was the next largest ($32.2 billion, 11.5%), followed by sports ($27.8 billion, 9.9%).

Apparel (15%), toys (12.6%) and fashion accessories (11.5%) continued to lead in the breakdown by product category, although the global toy sector experienced the largest decline, down 2.1% from 2018, in part due to the market disruption caused by the bankruptcy and ultimate liquidation of Toys R Us.

“The 2019 Global Licensing Survey drives home the fact that licensing continues to be a vital part of the consumer marketplace, and a versatile tool for brand owners and licensees to creatively build their businesses,” said Maura Regan, president of Licensing International. “This year’s results highlight licensing’s wide reach, value and potential in both developed and growth markets. It’s an exciting time to lead the licensing business into its promising future.”

The complete report – including regional and country by country breakdowns for major markets – will be made available free to all Licensing International members in the summer.


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