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Property Types

Corporate Trademarks/Brands Propel 3.3% Increase in Global Licensed Retail Sales in 2019

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Licensed retail sales jumped 3.3% in 2019 to reach $180.7 billion worldwide, according to TLL’s Annual Licensing Business Survey.

This last year marks the fastest rate of global growth since TLL began tracking these sales in 2011, with an average year-over-year growth rate of 2.1% from the years 2011–2018.

Of the five major property types TLL tracks worldwide, corporate trademarks/brands saw the largest year-over-year growth in licensed retail sales in both dollar value and percentage change. Sales were up 4.3% in 2019, or $1.6 billion, to reach $39.0 billion in sales globally. Licensed sales within the U.S. and Canada were up 4.2%, with international sales up a whopping 4.8% compared to the previous year. The property type boasts a 21.7% share of all global licensed retail sales, second only to fashion.

Retail Sales of Licensed Merchandise, by Property Type, Worldwide, 2018–2019

Fashion brand-based global licensed sales were up 2.8%, or $1.2 billion, to reach $43.3 billion. Growth within the U.S. and Canada was somewhat slower than outside the territory, with licensed sales up 2.4% and 3.4%, respectively. The property type has either matched or surpassed the average global growth rate every year since TLL began tracking this data in 2011, and is one of the only types to grow in share over the last eight years. In 2019 the property type made of 31.0% share of global licensed sales.

One of the only other property types to grow in share since 2011 is entertainment/character, which saw a 2.7% jump in licensed retail sales to reach $31.8 billion. Sales growth for entertainment/character-based brands has actually slowed dramatically over the last two years, with flat -0.1% growth in 2018 compared to an average year-over-year growth rate of 4.8% from the years 2014–2017. Most of this past year’s recovery in sales from 2018 has come from the U.S. and Canada (up 3.7%) rather than internationally (2.0%).

Sports was up 3.2%, or just over $690 million, to reach $22.3 billion in sales worldwide. Although it holds a 12.3% share of sales globally, the property type’s influence outside the U.S. and Canada is not as high as it is domestically. In 2019, sports was the only property type to grow in licensed sales at the same rate within the U.S. and Canada as outside of it (3.2%).

Licensed sales based on art properties were up 3.5%, or just over $300 million, to reach $34.3 billion in value. Sales within the U.S. and Canada were up by 3.1%, while internationally they jumped 3.5%.

U.S. & Canada Contribute 79.5% Share of Global Corporate Trademark/Brand-based Sales

Licensed retail sales trends in the U.S. and Canada have a disparate effect on global trends given that the territory is home to 63.1% share of all sales worldwide (see pg. 19 for comparison with other territories).

In fact, the U.S. and Canada makes up 79.5% of all corporate trademark/brand-based sales worldwide. The territory also has an outsized influence on sports (74.7% share of global sales) followed by art (62.8%), fashion (52.2%), and entertainment/character (42.5%).

Because the U.S. and Canada commands over half of licensed sales in each property type, with the exception of entertainment/character (42.5% share versus 57.5% internationally), average licensed sales growth tends to be much more dynamic than the global figures might imply. For example, fashion sales were up by an entire percentage point higher outside the U.S. and Canada (3.4% versus 2.4%) with major territories like Europe and Asia boasting higher growth than the behemoth U.S. and Canada.

Excluding licensed retail sales in the U.S. and Canada, the largest property type by share of sales is actually fashion (31.0% share internationally) followed by entertainment/character (27.4%), corporate trademarks/brands (12.4%), sports (8.4%), and art (5.4%). Other property types, which are broken out in more detail in TLL’s U.S. and Canada figures, make up 15.3% of sales internationally.

Share of Licensed Retail Sales, U.S. & Canada versus International, 2019


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