The 2024 Licensing Landscape

Success in the licensing business hinges on consumer’s emotional connections with brands and products. As we gather for Licensing Expo, we face significant challenges, which will influence trends and consumer behaviors in the licensing sector.

Steven Ekstract

May 16, 2024

3 Min Read
Steven Ekstract
Steven EkstractLicense Global

At a Glance

  • Global Challenges
  • U.S. Issues
  • Positive Outlook for Licensing

Global Challenges

The war in Ukraine has led to a massive refugee crisis, disrupted agricultural production and has threatened the sovereignty of Eastern European NATO members. Similarly, the war in Gaza threatens civilian populations and major shipping routes, promoting regional instability. China’s expanding dominance in the Asia-Pacific region, coupled with accusations of social media disinformation through TikTok, fuels global fears. The evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents both economic opportunities and risks. AI technologies are replacing jobs across various industries, including entertainment and tech sectors. It can also develop new IP that will forever change the licensing business.

U.S. Issues

The U.S. faces cultural divisions on women’s rights, equity/diversity/inclusion, mental health and gun violence and socioeconomic disparities. With 2024 being an election year, consumer economic concerns impact retailers’ inventory and pricing strategies. The political landscape sees a former President’s re-election bid amid legal challenges, and immigration remains a contentious issue.

Positive Outlook for Licensing

Despite these challenges, the licensing business capitalizes on consumers’ desire for security, emotional connections and lifestyle/leisure time. In uncertain times, trusted brands and entertainment provide comfort and distraction. Some key promising areas for licensing in the next few years include:

Related:Navigating the 2024 Licensing Landscape

Entertainment Dominance –The entertainment/characters’ sector remains a major driver for retail, despite challenges such as Hollywood consolidation and the shift from theatrical to streaming services. Location-based entertainment continues to thrive post-pandemic, with major studios and platforms entering the space. Major growth for licensing is experiential, from festivals/concerts and amusement parks to retail experiences or adventure travel. Fan-based entertainment (video games, anime) is growing and transitioning  to mainstream audiences.

Digital Expansion – The rise of the metaverse and Sand-box games opens new avenues, with brands extending into virtual environments like Roblox and Minecraft. Rock legends, KISS, just signed a $300 million deal to sell their music catalog and name, image and likeness (NIL) to memorialize the band as metaverse digital avatars. Digital licensing will see explosive growth in the next decade, with brands developing new revenue streams via digital-first products.

Corporate Brands Growth – Brands in the food/beverage and FMCG sector have expanded their licensing initiatives, fueled by pandemic-induced consumer demand. In hardlines, bellwethers like GE, Kenmore and Craftsman leverage generations of consumer trust. In softlines, Authentic Brands Group continues to acquire well-known fashion and lifestyle brands. Real estate, financial services, travel and leisure are taking advantage of licensed brands, appealing to consumers’ love of trusted names.

Sports Industry BoomSports has witnessed exponential revenue growth, with live sports remaining a major revenue driver for TV and streaming platforms. In 2024, women’s sports will generate over $1 billion in revenue, a 300% increase from 2021, holding great promise for brands and licensees seeking new partnerships. Major sporting events like the 2024 Paris Olympics will drive record sports licensing revenue.

Celebrity and Influencer BrandsCelebrity licensing, endorsements and influencer collaborations continue to rise. Consumer products for women are dominated by celebrity brands such as the Kardashian-Jenner empire, Rhianna’s Fenty, Jessica Alba’s Honest Company, Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP, Beyonce’s Ivy Park, Drew Barrymore’s Flower, Kate Hudson’s Fabletics, Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty, Paris Hilton’s return to licensing with her 11:11 Media and Meghan Markle’s new lifestyle brand, American Riviera Orchard.

Nostalgia Continues – Classic characters are all the rage, reflecting a broader trend for classics. Kids’ classic book properties will see a resurgence in animation and brand extensions.

Cowboy Chic – Reinforced with Beyonce’s Cowboy Carter and Paramount’s Yellowstone.

Art Cultural licensing from individual artists and classic designs continues as a form of self-expression and affordable luxury.

In summary, the 2024 licensing landscape is characterized by an interplay of trends, from nostalgia-driven revivals to digital expansion, shaping the future trajectory of the industry.

This story was taken from the May 2024 issue of License Global. Read the full issue here.

About the Author(s)

Steven Ekstract

Steven Ekstract, a former Brand Director of the Global Licensing Group, has been a leading voice in the licensing industry for more than two decades.

After working in Entertainment Journalism and Marketing including Video Review, Premiere magazines and the Hollywood Reporter, Ekstract founded License Global magazine in 1997, the leading news source for the brand licensing industry. He is often tapped as a thought leader to provide his insights and forecasts on the licensing business.

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