Licensing is a Child's Business

Licensed products captured 26 percent of unit sales in the U.S. for kids ages 14 and under, according to Q1 findings from the U.S. Kids’ License Tracker, the latest service from global information company The NPD Group that tracks spending across 17 industries.

While present in kids’ lives throughout their youth, licenses, and the means through which they engage with them, tend to change and age in and out of children as they move through their different life stages.

Kids ages 3 to 5 represented the largest age group for licensed sales based on units sold, or 30 percent. The industries that over-indexed in this age group were toys, games and puzzles; arts and crafts; and health and beauty. Children ages 6 to 8 was the second-largest group, with 23 percent share of the kids’ licensing market. On the other hand, the industries holding the highest share for this age segment were school supplies, consumer electronics and accessories and arts and crafts. 

“There is a lot of fluidity in the kids’ licensing market, and understanding the differences among age groups is critical to finding opportunities,” says Juli Lennett, senior vice president and industry advisor, toys, The NPD Group. “Change is only growing stronger and faster today as technology continues to accelerate the pace of trends and carves out additional ways for consumers to engage. Kids are utilizing more platforms than ever before to interact with their favorite licenses. Finding synergies across industries and extending the life of a license where it makes sense are important avenues for licensors and retailers to pursue.”

In Q1, licensed sales for kids amounted to $14.2 billion in consumer spending. Across all industries, clothing captured the largest share of product sales, followed by toys, games and puzzles; party supplies and costumes; and DVD/Blu-ray and digital. 

“One thing is clear: in a world where consumption keeps changing more rapidly than ever, kids love their licensed products and in particular, love to wear them,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor, The NPD Group

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