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The trends to watch from Licensing Expo 2018

Carol Feeley from Beacon Creative highlights her top spots from last month’s showcase.

Over 65 countries representing the $262.4b global brand licensing industry attended this years licensing expo in Las Vegas. We’ve collated our top picks featuring the best stands, emerging trends and our favourite product from the show.

Buzzfeednew

Buzzfeed


By far our favourite stand at the show, Buzzfeed well and truly stuck to its promise of approaching licensing in ‘a thoughtful way’. Looking initially unwelcoming and fairly intimidating, we were greeted by the friendly Buzzfeed team who explained the maze-like concept – you’re asked a question, eg ‘What does LOL mean?’ then you have the choice of two doors, option 1 ‘Lots of Love’, option 2 ‘Laugh out Loud’. Go through the door to discover a related brand.

The first question ‘which do you prefer?’, door one – lettuce, door two – doughnuts. Door one led to Buzzfeed’s health brand ‘Goodful’  promoting healthy living and life hacks, the second featuring ‘Tasty’ (and freshly made pancakes) showcasing the latest range of cookware.

The doors keep coming, the friendly team keep appearing, the rooms featuring makeup stations and climbing walls are seemingly never-ending. One of the best stands we’ve ever seen, a really clever concept that’s fun and engaging. You can see more on our Pinterest page and Instagram.

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Ink Group

Ink Group introduced a new animated property Zafari, which tells the story of a group of animals who have been magically born with the skin and patterns of other creatures. The story follows Zoomba, a baby elephant with zebra stripes, and his sidekick, Quincy and encourages embracing what which makes us unique. The series is also linked with the World Wildlife Fund, which encourages viewers to learn about wildlife and different countries.

The stand featured Zoomba and Quincy, as well as a printed grass floor and a pretty incredible waterfall. We nearly forgot we were in Vegas!

Sanrionew

Sanrio

A big, bright and bold stand featuring Sanrio favourites as well as emerging characters. Our favourite feature was the product display vending machine showcasing a new range of Hello Kitty products.

We were pleased to see some development with their newest character Aggretsuko (red panda office associate turned heavy metal karaoke), which was launched to the American audience in 2017 with video shorts. She now has her own series on Netflix and an expansive merchandise programme planned for 2018.

Sanrio continues to stay ahead of the game with emerging character properties and innovative partnerships including Kidrobot, O’Neill, Shoe Palace as well as several sports promotions with teams including LA Dodgers and San Francisco Giants – seamlessly tapping into the athleisure trend.

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Universal


One of the biggest stands at the show, Universal showcased its range of brands with an innovative approach to the stand walls – shelves with hundreds of minion and dinosaur characters. The stand also had the biggest queue, with custom screen printed The Secret Life of Pets t-shirts for either you… or your pet.

Bandainew

Bandai


Last but by no means least, the best meeting booth by far!

Linenew

Line Friends


We were pleased to see some new product development from Line Friends,featuring some new collaborations from Reebok and some fun new characters and plush. It’s going to be interesting to see how this brand develops in such a competitive marketplace with so much of this style of illustration dominating the show. You can read more about this below.

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Terrified Sushi


Making us laugh, Terrified Sushi made a real impact with the worlds most scared sushi on earth. Featuring plush and product concepts, we’re looking forward to seeing how this new brand develops.

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Fingerlings & Fiesty Pets

Striker Entertainment showcased a range of new Fingerlings products including a back to school range and accessories. The brand has released a series of animated shorts which have helped attract a bigger audience to the brand.

Fiesty Pets has also announced an extended licensing programme based on its success of their interactive plush dolls. Millions of fans are interacting with the brand posting their own ‘Fiesty Films’ across social media. You can see some of them here… if you’re brave enough.

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Amazon Merch

The talk of the show, and big news for brands as well as creative agencies, Amazon unveiled its new platform that allows licensors to develop and launch products faster than ever before.
 Simply upload your artwork, choose a product type and colour, set your price and add a product description. Amazon creates a product page on Amazon.com and when customers buy your product, Amazon handles everything – production, shipping, and customer service – all with no upfront costs.

It’s available by invite only for the time being (Disney, Marvel and Candy Crush are already signed up) but will also be available to smaller brands. Most definitely one to watch, we’ll be following up on how this is going to impact at retail later this year. You can find out more here.

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Trend update – Illustration

The image above probably says it all. There was an overload of simple 2D illustration at the show, with brands merging into each other. There’s no doubt that this style is popular and having massive success at retail, but we’re looking forward to what’s next, with some exciting trend based illustration styles in development from our team, developing high fashion product which will really disrupt on shelf. You can get in touch below if you’d like to see what we’re up to!

Carol Feeley is creative manager at Beacon Creative – an independent brand design consultancy, working with worldwide brands on a daily basis, which believes that at the heart of every good brand communication is a great idea. She can be contacted on 0191 478 4411 or by clicking here.

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