We just returned from the Licensing Expo in sunny Las Vegas. Held yearly, the Licensing Expo is a great opportunity not only to see colleagues and customers alike, but also see what’s new and exciting in the world of licensing across all industries. Here are a few great trends we saw:
- Attack of the movie franchise. Nearly every major brand within the entertainment industry attends Licensing Expo and they often present the flashiest and most note-worthy announcements during the show. This year was no different. Many of the entertainment brands and executives attending were buzzing about opportunities to license images tied to the plethora of sequels set to hit the silver screen this year. From Star Wars to Superman/Batman to Jurassic Park, much of the discussions centered around promoting the hottest new properties to merchandise. Clearly, consumer mindshare and relevance is of the utmost importance.
- Kids are not king. Over the past few years I’ve noticed that several brands have focused on licensing deals geared towards kids. This year however the tide seems to have turned. Many of the major retailers and consumer brands are trying to gain more market share by licensing more adult-oriented merchandise based on popular brands. From Duck Dynasty to the SciFi channel to traditional kid’s properties targeted to adults, there was a more adult-focused theme during the show. I’m willing to bet we’ll see this continue well beyond 2015’s Expo.
- Social media stars are licensors, too. Social media personalities and brands, much like the reality stars of the early 2000’s, were front and center discussing how they licensed their content, image and brand – particularly when it comes to YouTube. Major retailers also spoke with affection of how they were working with popular YouTube stars (such as Bethany Mota) to sell goods to teens. Through licensing, brands are expanding their message to previously untapped masses to sell everything from apparel to footwear.
Obviously this just scratches the surface of all the wonderful things that happened during the show. It’s quite clear though that the industry is evolving and embracing new trends at lightning fast speeds and 2015 is likely to bring an even greater focus on these areas and beyond. One thing’s for certain, regardless of what happens, these new trends will still face the same counterfeit, unauthorized online sales and under-reporting royalty threats – the same threats OpSec has addressed for many well-known licensed properties.