Ella Haynes, event director, Licensing Expo, Global Licensing Group, chats with License Global about Licensing Expo’s devotion to progress in sustainability and D&I.

McKenna Morgan, Content Editor

April 2, 2024

7 Min Read
Ella Haynes.
Ella Haynes.Global Licensing Group

The licensing industry has global influence; consumers flock to buy the products the industry creates, and the revenue driven at retail is a substantial driver in a brand’s power to implement change. Some executives harness the power of their position to become what License Global is calling a “Changemaker,” meaning they are leveraging licensing’s potential as a catalyst to create change.   

As Licensing Expo approaches next month, we caught up with Ella Haynes, event director, Licensing Expo, a part of the Global Licensing Group at Informa Markets, which includes Brand Licensing Europe and License Global, to discuss the event’s commitment to sustainability, diversity and inclusion. 

License Global: Why does sustainability matter to Licensing Expo? 

Ella Haynes: Events can naturally be very wasteful and have a negative impact on local communities where they take place. We work consciously to make sure that we use the event as a platform to drive positive change through two main areas: measuring and controlling our impact as an event and taking accountability for using our platform and reach to educate the licensing community on how to make more sustainable decisions. 

The licensing industry is also responsible for producing and manufacturing consumer products, so we feel we have a duty to help educate our community on how to make more sustainable choices or to be inspired by materials or processes that can help protect our planet. 

How did the Licensing Expo team establish sustainable practices for the event? 

Each year, we follow Informa’s 16 fundamental criteria which are designed to ensure our events meet and exceed our customers’ sustainability expectations and create a positive impact on customers, markets and communities. We are delighted that Licensing Expo is a 16/16 score show, but we want to continue to push the boundaries of our innovation each year. 

One way we amplify sustainable practices is through our partnerships each year. We have built close partnerships with organizations such as Delivering Good, Women in Toys and Products of Change.  

We partner with Delivering Good, a national nonprofit organization that connects excess merchandise from the retail, licensing and manufacturing industries with individuals and families in need, to collect unused and unopened product donated after the show to distribute to organizations that support children and families in the local Las Vegas area.  

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WiT) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and global community that champions and advocates for the advancement of women through leadership, networking and educational opportunities. We partner with them each year, promoting their networking breakfast, taking place this year on Wednesday, May 22. On the last day of Licensing Expo, for the first time ever, the event will welcome the WiT Empowerment Day to campus. WiT Empowerment Day gives women inventors, creators and entrepreneurs a forum to pitch products or ideas to top companies and buyers exclusively from Walmart. Mentor roundtable discussions will also be available to provide learnings from the best in the business. 

Ahead of Licensing Expo, there will also be a specialized WiT Empowerment Day Pitch Prep Program, led by Azhelle Wade, known as The Toy Coach. This program includes everything from preparing product pitches to on-demand video lessons, digital workbooks and a virtual Prep Session to ensure Empowerment Day participants will be confident and ready for meetings. 

Products of Change, the global educational hub driving sustainable movement across the consumer product markets partners with us through hosted on-site product displays, sustainability clinics, roundtable discussions and content, providing valuable advice and guidance for every stage of the sustainability journey. 

Licensing Expo is known as the biggest event in the licensing industry. With an event of this caliber, how do you expand sustainability as the show grows? 

A core initiative at Informa is Better Stands. Better Stands means we will be encouraging all exhibitors to move away from single-use, disposable exhibition booths in favor of reusable structures. We believe moving away from these will improve the ease, quality, safety and sustainability of our exhibitor experiences. Our commitment is that by 2025, all exhibitors will be at minimum, Bronze-level status. We’re delighted that in 2023 all exhibitors were on Bronze level or above, however, we will always continue to work with our exhibitors to ensure that, over time, they move up that ladder and closer to Gold level. 

What trends in sustainability does Licensing Expo see emerging throughout the licensing industry? 

We’re seeing a tremendous amount of new material innovation and manufacturers introducing innovative ways of producing and shipping products. Brands are launching new ranges that are looking at purpose, manufacturing process and packaging alternatives. Consumers are becoming more conscious and making choices on what they buy based on more transparency of manufacturing processes. Our industry is asking for more education and more opportunities to connect with the right people to start their sustainability journey. 

What’s new for Licensing Expo this year? 

In addition to the offerings seen each year like the Opening Night Party at Daylight Beach Club, our annual Character Parade, show floor tours, etc., there are many new initiatives to highlight, including: 

  • The Food Court – From sizzling street food to gourmet delicacies, our food court is a melting pot of flavors that caters to all tastes and preferences. Our carefully curated selection of cuisines ensures that there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a devoted foodie or simply seeking a quick and tasty meal. 

  • Networking Happy Hours – From 3-4 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday on the show floor, take this great opportunity to unwind, make new connections and enjoy a beverage. All attendees are welcome! 

  • Campus Map – Licensing Expo is all about making the most of the entire industry being in Las Vegas at the same time. We want to accentuate all the spaces and places across our whole Mandalay Bay Campus and the intentional touchpoints created to maximize all the chances available to serendipitously meet contacts that could ultimately lead to your next big partnership. 

  • The Game Lounge – Here, exhibitors will showcase their latest and most exciting games, providing attendees with the opportunity to experience cutting-edge technology and innovative gameplay. 

  • Licensing Unlocked – This is your simple and trusted source to learn about the brand licensing world and figure out if it’s right for you. With this course, we’ve assembled some of the brightest minds in the industry to cover all the essentials, provide actionable insights and share real-life case studies. 

  • The Japan Pavilion – With sales of $15.5 billion in 2022, Japan is the third-largest market for licensed merchandise in the world. Overall, Japan accounted for 6.6% of total global licensed merchandise sales. Licensing in Japan covers a broad spectrum of different product types, with toys ($3.1 billion), followed by apparel ($1.6 billion), fashion accessories ($1.3 billion) and software, video games and apps ($2.8 billion). The new Licensing Expo Japan Pavilion is an exciting addition to the heart of Licensing Expo's show floor, dedicated to shining a spotlight on new licensing business opportunities with the Japanese market. 

  • The Sports Pavilion – 19.5% of all global sales revenue are generated from licensed sports merchandise and services. Make the most out of the opportunity to meet and connect with some of the biggest European professional sports clubs. 

  • The Licensee Pavilion – Wanting to find a new manufacturer to partner with? Browse the broad variety of products available to license across different product categories. The new Licensee Pavilion is designed to create a buzzing hub of innovation, collaboration and new business opportunities. 

  • The Official Licensing Expo Closing Night Party – Loud Luxury; Canadian-born Los Angeles-based music group duo, Andrew Fedyk and Joe De Paceon, known for several independent releases and remixes, including the smash hit “Body,” will set the stage for the close of an epic Licensing Expo this year as hypnotic dance energy brings the week to a finish at the contemporary Vegas Hakkasan Nightclub to conclude the Expo in style.

  • We also are offering new, purpose-driven content which focuses on a theme of Shaping the Future of licensing, including a diversity and inclusion panel on Thursday, May 23, 11-11:45 a.m. which will discuss, “Building Teams” and “How Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Needs to Start at Recruitment,” detailing various perspectives and practical solutions on fostering and attracting unique and diverse talent as the industry shines its attention to the next generation of licensing professionals. We will also have a CMO Panel on Thursday, May 23, noon-12:45 p.m. made up of a dedicated panel of chief marketing officers who will speak on constructing forward-facing brands and how to connect with audiences while engaging consumers in new and innovative ways.  

Want to attend the event? Register for Licensing Expo here. 

About the Author(s)

McKenna Morgan

Content Editor, License Global

McKenna Morgan is Content Editor for License Global. Based in the Santa Monica office, McKenna specializes in coverage involving non-profits, beauty and cosmetics, health and wellness, new and social media and entertainment licensing.

When McKenna isn’t covering the latest licensing news, she spends her time attending live music shows and finding her next travel destination.

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