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A little licensing goes a long way…

Every child has a favorite character. From movies  and TV shows to video games and Internet content, digital media surrounds children more than ever. Consequently, children’s licensing is capitalizing on this opportunity for market growth. Steven Ekstract, group publisher at License Global, reflects on the success of Licensing Expo 2017, taking place just last month. “We saw major success with our first ever Licensing Week, which incorporated all of the events surrounding the expo into one industry gathering,” he says. “Licensing Expo tends to evolve every year, and I am sure we will see new features and programs at next year’s event as we continue to build on the success we saw at Licensing Week 2017.” Ekstract weighs in on what the industry should expect to see over the next year—and even decade—for kids’ licensing.

How would you describe the overall performance of the kids’ licensing market last year?

The kids licensing business was up 4 percent in 2016, driven by the huge successes from Disney brands including Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, princesses and many of their other properties.

Where do you see the market expanding in 2017? 

Kids’ licensing continues to grow as more companies adopt licensing as an important marketing tool. While licensing products is an established business among Hollywood studios and television companies, significantly more licensing is happening within the gaming industry  (like Pokémon Go for example) and new online and digital properties such as emojis and licensed extensions coming from toy lines like Shopkins.

Any specific character trends you’re noticing for kids’? 

Disney is the leading kids licensing company. They create franchised entertainment properties that lend themselves too many different categories of licensed products. Toy companies are licensing original toy ideas like Shopkins into many different categories and in the preschool space, television shows like Peppa Pig and PJ Masks from Entertainment One, as well as Hey Duggee from BBC are doing significant licensing programs. Pokémon continues to be a very strong property for kids and many new properties that were born online are doing great, such as emojis.

Any exciting innovations in the pipeline?

Creativity is the profound innovation that continues to drive the children’s licensing business. As Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology become more mainstream, we will see significant opportunities in licensed properties utilizing this technology. Last summer’s huge success of Pokémon Go was a great example of licensed content being utilized in an AR game.

How do you see the licensing market evolving over the next decade? 

The licensing market will continue to  grow as more and more companies understand that licensing can help expand their businesses through brand extensions as well as with global partners. The world is getting much smaller and brands are playing a crucial part as emerging markets develop and embrace brands as a lifestyle.



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