Anna Clarke, senior vice president, licensing, Global Licensing Group, Informa Markets, discusses how the world’s leading brand licensing event will evolve in 2024 and into 2025. Registration for the event is now open.

Amanda Cioletti, Vice President, Content and Strategy

December 12, 2023

5 Min Read
Anna Clarke, License Global
Anna ClarkeLicense Global

Licensing Expo has long been considered the preeminent event dedicated to the business of brand licensing, IP extension and consumer product collaboration since its founding in 1980.

The 2024 edition, set to take place May 21-23, 2024, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev., is no exception, and in fact, offers more of what exhibitors and attendees are demanding as ways of working continue to shift and business forges ahead into its next state of evolution.

Exhibition-Goers are Getting Younger

According to The Freeman Trends Report Q1, the average age of the exhibition attendee is trending down – pre-pandemic it was 51, but in 2023, that average age is now 45. In fact, by 2025, the projected size of the U.S. labor force is expected to be dominated by the Millennial generation. And with that, customer needs and event expectations are changing, with 84% saying that the No. 1 goal for in-person events is networking, followed closely by experiences on the show floor (73%).

And Licensing Expo is listening.

“We’ve been on a journey of evolving Licensing Expo since coming out of COVID,” says Anna Clarke, senior vice president, licensing, Global Licensing Group, Informa Markets (organizers of the event). “In 2022-2023, which we can call phase one, we focused on how we demonstrably increased the proportion of high-quality attendance at the show – think retail buyers, manufacturing decision-makers – people that really play a part in the deal. We invested heavily in our resources and commitment to that.”

Phase two of the evolution begins in 2024, and includes five areas of focus, which will set the groundwork for a larger scale reinvention in 2025.

Investment in Attendee and Exhibitor ROI

The first area of focus and the most important area of focus for Licensing Expo, says Clarke, is to ensure that all event customer groups see return on their time and financial investment.

“There will be enhancements to our meetings platform, better communications to make sure that our exhibitors in particular are aware of the resources and tools available to them within their exhibit fee, and we are also bringing in more affordable and different exhibiting options,” says Clarke.

New and improved features include innovations to the online meetings platform; enhanced tools and resources to facilitate new business (think a dedicated human head of retail, concierge services, a badge scanning app and more); affordable pavilions for Japanese brands, licensees, service providers and more; and a broader range of discounts across MGM hotels and resorts.

This investment is already delivering, with the 2023 event having seen record-high retail attendance, up 47% from 2019.

New and Purposeful Experiences

What is an event if not for the quality of experience it brings?

For the next edition of the event, the theme will be “Brands at Play,” which celebrates the power that play holds in every stage of life and the creativity it fosters when building brands.

Licensing Expo will debut several themed areas and features in and around the Mandalay Bay Convention Center including keynote and panel discussions, on-theme exhibitor brands, an arcade bar, a board game café, a sports tournament, art & craft zone, immersive brand experiences and more surprises in an effort to deliver more of what customers and attendees of all demographics are requesting.

Future of Licensing Program

On Day Three of Licensing Expo, the event organizers are highly focused on delivering content and experiences that push the envelope further, ensuring that all participants maximize their time in Las Vegas.

“We often find that the first days of the show are about pre-scheduled meetings, whereas day three tends to be a really great day to meet people you didn’t get the chance to – it’s a bit more ‘open season,’” says Clarke. “We’ll be encouraging some of the larger exhibitors to open their doors to new attendees, and we’re looking at things we can do around professional mentoring and networking for the new blood of the industry,” says Clarke.

Also slated for Day Three will be a high-profile keynote, a chief marketing officer panel, a diversity and inclusion panel, partner events and a focus on talent and acquisition for those new to licensing.

Servicing Those New to Licensing

The “new” is important to every facet of the business of brand licensing, and Licensing Expo is taking that to heart.

New to the show will be, in addition to the meetings concierge service, pre- and at-show orientations, better communication around “how the show works,” access to “Meet the Industry” networking events and more.

Launching in 2024 will also be a brand-new education platform, Licensing Unlocked, which is geared at delivering targeted knowledge to those beginning their journey in the business of brand extension.

Updated Admissions Policy

Quality of attendees and facilitating business is the priority for Licensing Expo, and one in which exhibitors and fellow attendees are also clear on the need for. To continue to deliver this quality , Licensing Expo will introduce a $50 general admission fee in 2024.

“We want to protect the attendance quality and the interactions we are facilitating, but we also want to ensure there is parity for our paying exhibitors,” says Clarke. “This nominal fee will also ensure that we can continue to invest in the show through new experiences as we continue to evolve.”

The fee will be tiered based on various attendee qualifications and meeting platform needs and include a $0 charge for 2023 past attendees through Jan. 31, 2024. Retailers will be free-of-charge, as will press, media and exhibitor staff and their contractors.

“An event should never stand still – there are always improvements and enhancements that can be made,” says Clarke. “We spend a lot of time talking to customers, prospective exhibitors, current and prospective attendees, media partners – you name it – to understand what is happening in the industry at large and the rate of change. We are seeing the needs of exhibitors change and the different ways in which they want to present themselves but also deliver back to their business. It is our job as the Global Licensing Group to make sure that we keep pace as our customers and audiences evolve.”

Registration for Licensing Expo 2024 is now open. Visit Licensingexpo.com for more information or to secure your ticket now.

About the Author(s)

Amanda Cioletti

Vice President, Content and Strategy, Informa Markets Global Licensing Group

Amanda Cioletti is the Vice President, Content and Strategy, for Informa Markets' licensing group.

Cioletti has more than two decades of experience in the business of news and publishing, and 13+ years in the licensed consumer products/B2B content space, having spent a bulk of her career nurturing the License Global and Global Licensing Group at Informa brands.

When not writing, reading or researching the many verticals that encompass the wonderful world of licensing, Cioletti spends her time with her family and friends in the wilds of Colorado.

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