Ahead of Licensing Expo, LIMA’s Marty Brochstein gives us an insider view on the US business.
“By all indications, 2016 was a solid licensing year in the US over a broad array of property types and product categories,” Marty Brochstein, LIMA’s svp industry relations and information, comments.
“The sports category was boosted by the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in over a century, releasing a lot of pent-up demand. Overall, the licensing business appears to have performed well.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the kids’ space popular brands include PAW Patrol, Shopkins, Peppa Pig, Trolls, DC Super Hero Girls and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles among others, while Star Wars and Minions also performed very well.
Significant trends include the growth of experiential licensing.
Marty continues: “Millennials and their followers are increasingly drawn to spending on experiences rather than ‘things’. There is also the ongoing growth of DTRs and other forms of exclusivity being sought by retailers and accommodated by brand owners and licensees. Another major trend is personalisation/customisation.”
The US marketplace isn’t without its challenges though. The retail environment is volatile, with some major chains having closed their doors – including big box sporting goods specialist Sports Authority; teen apparel retailer Wet Seal; and audio/video/pop culture chain Hastings Entertainment. On top of this, Macy’s and JC Penney have announced plans to close 68 and 138 stores respectively.
Marty adds: “There’s a general sense that the US has been overstored and the continuing growth of ecommerce has exacerbated that sense. Aside from figuring out the retail piece, the biggest challenges facing brand owners are to get noticed and embraced by an identifiable consumer segment in an environment in which it’s easy to develop a character or brand but hard to stand out.
“There is also the need to be extremely agile in marketing, product development and manufacturing to meet rapidly changing consumer preferences. However, there is still obviously a consumer appetite for well executed mass entertainment.”