Editor's Note: The Top 150 Debuts

Tony Lisanti, Editor-in-Chief

This comprehensive and authoritative report ranks the world's largest licensors by retail sales and identifies new products, strategies and retail promotions for hundreds of brands.

There are no better examples of the power, impact and scope of brand licensing around the world than the exclusive articles in License! Global's May issue.

This month's cover story not only reflects the celebrity aspect of licensing, but also the importance of the health and wellness category among consumers. The article reveals the new initiatives of Gwyneth Paltrow and Tracy Anderson and why the Tracy Anderson brand is poised to become one of licensing's hottest new properties.

The Licensing Expo Preview spotlights what the majority of exhibitors will be featuring, and serves as the perfect planning guide for appointments at next month's show in Las Vegas, Nev.

The University of Arizona's Global Retail Conference report not only addresses key challenges in retailing, but also reflects the importance of licensing as a merchandising strategy.

And there's the Top 150 Global Licensors report, which accounts for almost $230 billion in retail sales of licensed products worldwide in 2012, with an impressive 56 licensors reporting retail sales of $1 billion or more.

These are remarkable numbers compiled and reported by many of the world's largest and most reputable entertainment, fashion, sports league, non-profit and consumer products companies.

To put this in greater perspective and context, the total retail sales of licensed merchandise represents almost five percent of the cumulative total–$4.2 trillion–of the Global Powers of Retailing Top 250 (published by the National Retail Federation, Stores and Deloitte).

  • Top licensors added to the Top 150 include Meredith, IBML, Rovio, Ralph Lauren, Hershey, Blue Star Alliance, Authentic Brands Group, Focus Brands, Sequential Brands, HIT Entertainment, Activision, Televisa, Energizer Brands and Tommy Bahama. These licensors represent dozens of well-known and diverse properties in apparel, entertainment and corporate such as Better Homes & Gardens, Everlast, Angry Birds, Marilyn Monroe, Hickey Freeman, Cinnabon, William Rast, Thomas the Tank and Skylanders, to name a few.
  • Acquisitions and restructures have resulted in several licensors dropping from the rankings, but they are still very much a part of brand licensing. They include Lucas Licensing, which was acquired by Disney; Classic Media, which was acquired by DreamWorks Animation; and Lazytown, which was acquired by Turner.
  • Meredith joined the list at No. 4, reporting $11.2 billion in retail sales based on its core properties Better Homes & Gardens and Parents.
  • Sanrio reported $7 billion in retail sales in 2012, adding $2 billion in retail sales over the prior year.
  • Several brand management companies joined the Top 150 report this year including Bluestar Alliance, Authentic Brands and Sequential Brands.
  • Fashion licensors, in addition to brand management firms, are now a part of the report and include Ralph Lauren, Pierre Cardin and Tommy Bahama.
  • Activision makes its debut with $200 million in retail sales.
  • Boy Scouts of America is expanding its licensing efforts and joins the ranking for the first time.

From t-shirts to the haute couture designs featuring an unlikely character to the celebrity connections to the co-branding partnerships to live events, brand licensing is the business of choice for thousands of start-up and iconic properties.

In addition, licensors, licensees and retailers are becoming more innovative with new product designs and categories and focused on creating an integrated 360-degree approach to brand extensions.

Brand licensing is a robust market when compared to just a few short years ago as more acquisitions have been made, new properties have been introduced and the apps market continues to explode–all trends that will continue in the foreseeable future.

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