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Cultural Institutions: A Guide to the Heritage Brands in Demand

Carlin West, Lauren Sizeland and Julie Newman discuss the emergence of cultural institutions at Licensing Week Virtual.

Carlin West, chief executive officer, The Carlin West Agency, Lauren Sizeland, licensing head and business development, V&A and Julie Newman, chief executive officer and founder, Jewel Branding and Licensing discussed the emergence of cultural institutions in a panel at Licensing Week Virtual. 

Cultural institutions held the smallest market share of brand licensing’s $292.8 billion global revenue in 2019, precisely 0.5 percent, according to the Licensing International Annual Report 2020. 

While the percentage of actual market share may be comparatively small, the category is defined by positive growth in consumer demand, widespread market penetration, endless archives of heritage assets and dedication to quality. 

“The recent Licensing International survey listed non-profit as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the licensing industry, and that’s what we're seeing here in the U.S. market,” says Julie Newman, founder, chief executive officer, Jewel Branding. “What is interesting about cultural institutions is that they have an immense archive, or they support a cause, or are not-for-profit. For example, the New York Botanical Garden, one of our clients, has an archive that dates back to the 12th century and we have developed a slew of licensed products based on that amazing archive.” 

Non-profit was one of the fastest-growing sectors in licensing in 2019 – up 18 percent over 2018 – according to Licensing International, and while the lockdowns of 2020 have placed stress on cultural institutions, the growth of the sector and demand from consumers across the world stood its ground. 

“We don't have any boundaries in terms of reach,” says Lauren Sizeland, head, licensing, V&A. “So, we work with companies in East Asia, U.S. and throughout Europe, and the fact is we have millions of objects but this lockdown is giving us confidence that we can work remotely. It doesn't matter where we are in [or] what we do, because what we're licensing is digitized. We've got imagery [and] digital metadata to accompany our imagery. All of our approvals have been done online over the last five years or so. It's pretty much business as usual.” 

The traditional reasoning behind cultural and heritage licensing – being to fund the institutions themselves – is transforming. Global market activity has fueled the non-profit industry’s dedication to unparalleled quality, authentic partnerships, far-reaching brand awareness and life-enhancing product design across all price points, making licensing a valid new market for heritage brand owners. 

“What makes it compelling is it is very much an evergreen property,” adds Newman. “Archives and artifacts and rare books, these things never go out of style. So, there's always something to draw from. I think that what's cool about cultural institutions is that you can create very compelling stories that consumers want to know about.” 

You can view the full panel Cultural Institutions: The Next Emerging Market for Licensing hosted by Carlin West of The Carlin West Agency by registering for Licensing Week Virtual

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