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Top Global Licensors 2021

This year’s exclusive, annual reports look at a very changed landscape, documenting shifts in both retail and culture across 2020 through the lens of licensed consumer products and merchandise, and how licensing agencies helped their brands thrive during a tumultuous time.

License Global

June 24, 2021

2 Min Read
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The Top Global Licensors 2021 report identifies the world's top IP owners that drove the consumer product business forward during 2020 – a year unlike any other. The annual report, which showcases the world's most powerful brands based on prior-year sales of licensed merchandise, is once again topped by The Walt Disney Company, which reported $54 billion in retail sales worldwide of licensed and direct-to-consumer products, slightly less than the $54.7 billion the company reported in 2019. The latest report also includes a number of newcomers such as the United States Postal Service at No. 63 with $200 million in retail sales of licensed consumer products. Read the June issue of License Global in full here

Unlike previous editions of the report, which has touted a ranking of the most powerful 150 brands around the world, the 2021 report hones in on 75 companies to ensure all retail sales listed are accurately reported and estimated in a systematic and accountable way

"This year's report may look different; however, it is arguably the most important one yet," says Amanda Cioletti, content director, License Global. "As the year presented forced retail closures and brand consolidation, the latest report not only highlights trends that surfaced from the chaos of 2020, but the companies that have been able to find success in weathering such storms."

Newcomers to the Top 10

Top Global Licensors 2021 report sees two new entrants to the Top 10 – The Pokémon Company International and Bluestar Alliance. The Pokémon Company comes in at No. 8 with $5.1 billion in retail sales in 2020, a $900 million increase year-on-year. Pokémon, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, attributes retail sales to the franchise growth efforts that have grown to include video games, apps, the popular trading card game, animation, movies and play, as it extends beyond its core to gaming, toys, apparel and accessories, designer collabs, tech gear, home decor and more. Bluestar Alliance also saw very strong gains in 2020, reporting $4.5 billion in retail sales of licensed consumer products, a $1 billion increase from 2019, enabling it to achieve the No. 9 spot on the list. The company attributes its success in part to influencer-led marketing, the acquisition of Justice, direct-to-consumer and e-commerce platforms like Amazon, as well as distribution to all major markets globally.

The Top Ten Global Licensors Include:


1. The Walt Disney Company – $54B 

2. Meredith Corporation – $30.1B 

3. Authentic Brands Group – $13.8B 

4. WarnerMedia – $11.B 

5. Hasbro – $7.8B 

6. NBCUniversal/Universal Brand Development – $7.5B 

7. ViacomCBS – $5.8B 

8. The Pokémon Company International – $5.1B 

9. Bluestar Alliance – $4.5B 

10. Sanrio – $3.9B


About the Author(s)

License Global

License Global is the leading news source for the brand licensing industry, delivering award-winning editorial content including news, trends, analysis, and special reports about the global consumer product and retail marketplace.

Through its print edition, website, daily e-newsletter and event publications, License Global reaches more than 150,000 executives and professionals in all major markets. The magazine also serves as the official publication for the sector’s trade events, which include Licensing Expo, Brand Licensing Europe, Licensing Expo Japan, Licensing Expo Shanghai and the Licensing Leadership Summit.

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