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Why opportunities abound in sports licensing

Tom Howgate explains why knowing what influences sports off the pitch is key to success in licensing.

In my (say it quietly) 25 years in the sports licensing industry, I think it’s fair to say I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of licence agreements. Those that succeed spectacularly, making fortunes for both brand owners and licensees (which were few and far between) and those that fail, often leading to huge financial losses, even bankruptcy for licensees and more than a little egg on the faces of the brand owners which had snapped up the guarantees without any certainty about the likely success of the project.

Now we are seeing a more scientific approach to licensing on both sides of the industry. We are living in an era when the world is changing faster than ever before. This generation of children, who are not only a key target market for licensed products in their own right, but also represent the future adult consumer, is like no other before. Kids today are super-informed, constantly connected and their attitudes, behaviours and consumption choices are not only significantly different from their predecessors but are evolving continually. Their whole ecosystem is far more fragmented and inherently more complex than ever before – the need for reliable, statistically significant and real-time data has never been more important.

I’ve been working with Kids Insights, the global leader in kids market intelligence, for the last few months, and the work it is doing in capturing business critical information about kids is phenomenal. Now it is starting to make an impression in the area of sports licensing.


According to the Kids Insights study, activities and clubs’ participation has increased across all age groups since the last quarter (July-September) – sports and dancing clubs taking a leading position.

The opportunities that will arise for the licensing industry are significant and here, we see in our data that 57% of kids, tweens in particular, have purchased something related to their favourite sports team overall.

The top three sports team related licensed properties are clothes, computer games and books. We also see England women’s football record its highest ever ranking in our data among girls. The Lionesses are the 22nd favourite team and this data is very promising, providing some context as to the direction women’s football is headed.

The growth of popularity in activities and clubs opens more collaboration and influencer opportunities, utilising both male and female sports developing content for their audience.

Understanding what is going on in the kids’ ecosystem has never been more important for all aspects of licensing, sport included. We specialise in helping not just making licensing selections for licensors and licensees, but building a story to potential buyers so ensuring that sales and marketing campaigns provide clients with their desired ROI.

Our data is also helping clients understand what, when, where and how young people are accessing media and social media, so they can adapt their communication strategy and social media content to ensure engagement and connection with their target audience.

This feature originally appeared in the spring 2020 edition of Licensing Source Book. To read the full publication, click on this link.

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