License Global delves into the French licensing market to see what is trending in the region and the impact the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will have on brand licensing.

Ian Hart, Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA

March 14, 2024

8 Min Read
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At a Glance

  • Strength of the Comic Book in Brand Licensing
  • French-Born Animation
  • Impact of the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics on Brand Licensing in France

Licensing in many areas of Western Europe continues to thrive, despite inflation, which hit European licensed goods consumers hard. The region retains the second-largest market share in the world for licensed retail sales, generating nearly $63 billion of total global licensed revenue at retail in 2022. While its share, 18.5% of the global market ($340,823 billion), dipped slightly (0.5%), according to Licensing International’s 2023 Global Licensing Industry Study, France, along with Sweden, Greece and Portugal, all had above average market growth rates.

The French licensing market follows many of the global trends, in terms of categories and spans various industries, including toys, fashion and fast-moving consumer goods. France also has a strong presence in publishing, leading to success for local editorial IPs like Astérix, Petit Ours Brun, Mortelle Adèle, Loup and Le Petit Prince.

“The retail landscape is fast-changing in France,” says Ali Sana, director, retail sales, e-commerce and marketing, France, The Walt Disney Company. “Retailers are consolidating market share and yet the market remains balanced between specialists, grocery and e-commerce players.

“Demand for licensed products remains strong and continues to grow. As one example, ‘Stitch’ is now a real star IP in France, across multiple categories.”

Related:March 2024

Strength of the Comic Book in Brand Licensing

License Global has reported previously how certain areas of toys and entertainment thrived during the pandemic and continue to see growth. In France, the birthplace of Asterix, comics are engrained into the cultural landscape. In fact, Statista data says France is the second-largest manga market in the world, topped only by Japan, resulting in significant demand for manga-related products, leading to success for licensed anime. Like board games and tabletop card games, comics were the go-to pastime when families were locked down and the sector continues to hit new heights.

“We didn’t expect this phenomenon [to last] after lockdown was lifted,” Marie Parisot, marketing and commercial director, Dargaud, publishers of “Blake and Mortimer” and “Lucky Luke,” told British newspaper, The Guardian.

According to official bookstore watchdog the Centre national du livre (CNL), almost one in four books of any kind sold in France are comics and there are over 3,500, and rising, independent bookshops in the country. In contrast, the U.K., which has a similar population to France, had a little over 1,000 independent bookshops in 2022.

It’s not just traditional French-language comics books, which are no longer confined to French-speaking countries, that are popular in the region either. Data from Statista says that, in 2020, American comics were one of the most consumed visual art forms in France, with almost one-quarter of all French boys ages 13-15 reported to have read American comics at least once in the past 12 months.

“Asterix has accompanied the French throughout the years and always with humor,” says Baptiste Cazaux, head, licensing for Asterix, Les Editions Albert René. “Asterix is passed down from generation to generation and we like to share it with family. During the pandemic, parents and children were able to share good times at home with Asterix and our album sales were a real success. The brand celebrates its 65th anniversary this year and is developing through films, licensing and, not forgetting, Parc Asterix near Paris.”

French-Born Animation

As well as manga, there is a strong passion for anime in France, with some of the foundational technologies and early animated movies being created in the country as far back as the 19th century. Today, despite strong competition from the U.S. and Japan, France continues to produce regular anime content. In fact, 2022 saw the highest number of certified animated feature movies released in France (13) for over 15 years.

The country also has a rich tradition in video games, supported by local animation productions and game developers.

“The French audiovisual market is affected by reduced funding from traditional broadcasters and streaming platforms,” says Alexandra Algard-Mikanowski, licensing and merchandising director, “Molang.” “To face this challenge, French producers are on teen/adult contents targeting international platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, Disney+. There’s also a growing emphasis on international collaborations and co-productions, especially for major franchises. Producers and broadcasters seek standout concepts, strong IPs that can stand out.”

“The strength of the category is helping the ongoing kidult boom, which is trending globally,” says Arnaud Simon, licensing director, Sanrio. “Anime, manga and videogames are gaining conspicuous market shares. Traditional business models are still there, but new opportunities are rising up, from video on demand to online retainers, from promotion on social media only to high-end collaboration. TikTok and Instagram are popular tools for engagement, while Web3, the metaverse and NFTs are driving what is increasingly known as ‘phygital’ products leveraging on nostalgia and based on iconic childhood characters.”

Impact of the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics on Brand Licensing in France

The Summer Olympics is one of the most watched sporting events on the planet, with only the soccer World Cup and the Tour de France in cycling amassing more of a global audience than the 2 billion people that tune in to watch the world’s finest athletes compete at the pinnacle of their sports every four years.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games are being hosted in Paris this year, taking place throughout July, August and September. The Games will see an influx of global tourists entering the country during this time, with an estimated 10 million tickets being sold for the Olympics and a further three million for the Paralympics.

“The Paris Olympic Games will of course be a great event for the whole country, putting the country in the world spotlight, with retail set to be boosted by increased tourism and engaged domestic shoppers,” says Sana. “Retailers such as Carrefour will take advantage of this throughout the summer with robust marketing campaigns. It’s an opportunity for brands and licensors to partner with those key retailers to reach an engaged audience and drive revenue.”

In the run-up to the games, there has been a high demand for sport brands and events in the country, boosted by promotion around the benefits of physical and sporting activity.

“The increase in tourism is creating opportunities for retailers to capitalize on increased foot traffic and consumer spending,” say Laurent Taieb and Florence Ayem, co-presidents, Licensing International France. “Retailers may introduce special promotions, exclusive merchandise and themed products to cater to the influx of visitors.

“The Olympic Games is likely to create a host of brand partnerships and licensing opportunities with over 70 licensees across various product categories in including apparel, accessories, souvenirs, sporting goods and toys (with the ‘phryges,’ the official Olympic mascots) and also promotional campaigns driving sales and brand awareness. Retailers such as Carrefour, Danone, Decathlon, Air France, FDJ and Le Coq Sportif are expected to capitalize on this opportunity to offer exclusive products, limited editions and commemorative items to celebrate the event.”

Challenges and Opportunities in France Brand Licensing

Falling birth rates challenge the kids’ marketing segment. In France, in 2023, 678,000 babies were born in the country, 6.6% fewer than in 2022, and almost 20% fewer than in 2010, according to the annual review, leading to some concerns in the kids’ product category, but other categories continue to thrive.

“Location-based entertainment and hospitality continue to perform well, in line with the expectations of consumers who want to experience the worlds of their favorite brands in new dimensions,” says Eloïse Daire, development and partnerships manager, Le Moulin Rouge. “The boom in collaborations continues to be a dynamic factor for our industry, impacting all types of brands, from fast fashion to hyper luxury, and creating ever-wider bridges between the fashion and entertainment industries.

“The market is adapting to the underlying trend of brands taking into greater consideration their social impact, integrating ethical criteria into their selection of partners and products, and promoting their approach,” she continues. “The trend towards ‘made in France’ products and the appreciation for specific craftsmanship further characterize the French licensing landscape.”

Other challenges impacting licensing in France include combating piracy and counterfeiting, navigating complex legal frameworks and addressing the current economic pressure on purchasing power which impacts prices and reduces retailers’ and licensees’ margins.

“Opportunities lie in strategic partnerships, expansion into new markets, leveraging digital platforms and capitalizing on emerging trends like sustainability and personalization, prompting licensors to explore new revenue streams such as events and experiential categories,” add Taieb and Ayem. “Fanatics and Legends are expected to emerge as key players in the French market post-Olympics.”

Matthieu Battini, Global Licensing Group

France Licensing Day and Licensing International Awards 2024

France Licensing Day and Licensing International Awards 2024 returns to Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris in Paris, France, June 27. The event puts French licensing in the spotlight and offers delegates the opportunity to meet rights holders, licensing agents, manufacturers and retailers.

“Following a very successful first edition of France Licensing Day in 2023 and positive feedback (84% of the participants valued the event as excellent), we are pleased to be running the event again this year,” says Matthieu Battini, EMEA account and business development director, Global Licensing Group. “This is a unique occasion to get the entire French licensing industry together one day to network but also one evening to celebrate the best collaborations in 2023 through the Licensing International Awards. Stay tuned, lots of new brands will be revealed soon.”

Register for France Licensing Day & Licensing International Awards 2024.

Discover more about France Licensing Day & Licensing International Awards 2024.

The article was taken from March's issue of License Global. Read the issue in full here.

About the Author(s)

Ian Hart

Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA, License Global

Ian joined the License Global editorial team in May 2022 as digital editor for the U.K. and EMEA, becoming Senior Digital Editor in April 2023.

Ian is a huge fan of sports and entertainment brands and, as a father, toys and kids' brands are a large part of his life!

He has been at Informa (formerly UBM) since 2018, where he was previously the editor of SHP, a B2B digital publication aimed at health & safety professionals.

Ian studied journalism at university before spending seven years in online fantasy gaming. Prior to moving to Informa, Ian worked in B2B trade print media, in the automotive sector, working on various publications aimed at independent automotive technicians and parts distributors.

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