Global Licensors Poised for New Decade of Growth

This year's report on the world's largest licensors is another example of the breadth and scope of the licensing biz, as well as its unrivaled popularity among consumers and its significance to retailers.

April 6, 2018

3 Min Read

This year's report on the world's largest licensors is another example of the breadth and scope of the licensing biz, as well as its unrivaled popularity among consumers and its significance to retailers. i1_724.jpg

The exclusive global licensors' report, complied by the editors of License! Global magazine, also reflects the growth of licensed products, the globalization of brands and the evolution and sophistication of the licensing business.

When this report was introduced more than a decade ago, it was called "The Nifty Fifty." Over the past 12 years, it has been expanded several times and this year it boasts the Top 125 Global Licensors and Top 25 Licensing Agents with more than 30 companies appearing on the list for the first time.

Since the debut of this special report, Disney Consumer Products has always been the No. 1 licensor setting the standard for style, marketing, brand extension and retail development. In "The Nifty Fifty" (April 1999), for example, DCP reported $10 billion in retail sales and in this year's issue, DCP reports $27.2 billion in retail sales, almost tripling its size over the past decade.

So it's only appropriate that DCP chairman Andy Mooney, who joined DCP in December 1999, appear exclusively on the cover of this special issue of License! Global, certainly representing the beginning of a new decade, the overall importance worldwide of the licensing business and the Top 125 Global Licensors, but also the growth of DCP, and most importantly, the beginning of a new era for DCP, which is launching several new strategic initiatives that include the integration of Marvel Entertainment, acquired a few months ago, in one of the most interesting and impactful deals in the history of brand licensing and entertainment. DCP is definitely back on the growth track and optimistic about the future and that bodes well for all of brand licensing.

The Top 125 Global Licensors also reflects other key trends and developments in licensing worldwide. Consider the skyrocketing growth of Iconix Brand Group and its position as a licensing and brand management company, featuring 17 DTR brand partnerships and counting. Just a few years ago, Iconix wasn't even included in the top licensors' report and now the company is ranked as the second largest licensor behind DCP with $9 billion in sales of licensed products at retail in 2009, an incredible $3 billion jump from the previous year.

The Top 125 Global Licensors' report is also a reminder of how a "new" property can become an instant phenomenon. Twilight emerged on the scene in November 2008, when the first film debuted, and the merchandise contributed to a strong fourth quarter for Hot Topic, which took a major stake in the fledgling property. Now Summit Entertainment is ranked at No. 77, reporting sales of licensed merchandise at $250 million for 2009.

The Top 125 Global Licensors also exemplifies the staying power of brands. For example, Star Wars from Lucasfilm was ranked No. 34 a decade ago with $750 million in retail sales and in this year's report, Lucasfilm is ranked No. 14 reporting $3 billion in retail sales of licensed merchandise. Furthermore, the Star Wars property reflects more than 33 years of being a top boys' brand and this year the Empire Strikes Back is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The Top 125 Global Licensors represent about $165 billion in retail sales, or close to 90 percent of the total worldwide licensing business of $187.2 billion as reported by License! Global. There are an astonishing 41 companies generating more than $1 billion in retail sales and 25 companies generating more than $2 billion.

There are dozens of successful and well-known properties that don't appear on the list for various reasons—some financial, as the economy has impacted business, others size, as a property needed to exceed $35 million in retail sales to make the list.

Brand licensing is as strong as ever—especially now that the global economy is beginning to turnaround—and the industry is well positioned for the next decade of growth. And dare I say, the Top 150 Global Licensors!

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