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COVID Continues To Impact Licensing Trends This Fall

By Alicia Rosa

Fall is here with school in full swing and some people returning to physical offices. According to a new survey from MassMutual, Americans are projected to have spent an extra $700 this summer. That being said, many consumers are keeping a close eye on the spread of the Delta variant and reverting to old shopping and buying behaviors, such as relying heavily on curbside pickups and online shopping. These trends are expected to hold, especially as we get into the holiday shopping season. These are the latest trends we’re keeping an eye on across retail, CPG, and licensing as we head into fall and winter.  

Experiential Retail

The retail landscape has seen dramatic shifts over the last year as brands and shoppers adjust to a new normal. DTC brands continue to enjoy boosts from the surge in e-commerce and consumers’ willingness to try new brands. Convenience is still reigning, but shoppers are also seeking out new immersive experiences from physical stores. Retail and recreational pop-ups are starting to make their way back and consumers want more exciting experiences than ever. 

Wilson Sporting Goods Co. recently unveiled a pop-up museum and retail shop that takes customers through Wilson’s career highlights and other milestones from tennis athletes. The brand has put its own spin on the pop-up model by focusing on Wilson Sporting Goods’ heritage and history, while incorporating modern elements like a collaboration with streetwear brand KITH. 

Parade, an online intimates brand beloved by Gen Z, launched a series of retail pop-ups with interactive elements like dance parties and wildflower-decorated photo ops. Their new summer collection will be available for purchase, but the event itself will be free with complimentary refreshments. Although Parade is e-commerce based, the physical locations will allow the DTC brand to test out the concept before expanding offline. 

Other brands are still experimenting with AR and VR. Skincare brand Dermalogica recently launched “VR e-commerce storefronts” with VR platform Obsess. Users can access the virtual world through the brand’s website, which allows them to walk through a photorealstic retail store and see Dermalogica’s new line of products. 


Princesscore is the latest viral aesthetic that adds an air of royalty to the cottagecore trend. Cottagecore brought us flowy dresses, mushroom motifs, and bread baking. Princesscore brings tulle, corsets, big sleeves, pastels, and pastry-making. The aesthetic highlights the staying power of trends inspired and driven by the popular Netflix show Bridgerton, which debuted last year. Accord to Lyst, searches for corsets, long gloves, pearl and feather headbands, and empire dresses saw a surge in the month after Bridgerton premiered. The trend has continued to grow in apparel and accessories, contributing to the rise of princesscore and related aesthetics like regencycore. 

Tangy Flavors

Consumers have a taste for acidic, vinegar-based flavors right now. This trend is on the rise with major brands like Doritos with their new Tangy Ranch and Tangy Pickle flavors, and we expect tangy-ness will continue to have a presence in the snack aisle in the future. Pickle pizza has been a viral sensation on TikTok, a trend that originates from Detroit and has spread to other cities throughout the US thanks to demand from social media. Grillo’s Pickles has garnered a following for their pickles, selling over 5 million pounds of pickles in 2019 at over 10,000 major retail locations. 

Indoor Nature Décor 

Greenery and nature-inspired color palettes are trending in home design, from faux plants to green furniture to leafy wallpaper. Many retailers are tapping into micro-trends in the plant community, offering up faux versions of more rare plants, like variegated monsteras, that are more personalized than a basic rubber tree or fake palm. By paying attention to what goes viral on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, retailers are driving real sales and social media engagement simultaneously. 


Kids are returning to school, some for the very first time due to the pandemic. This year’s back-to-school season will have a special emphasis on mental health and wellness as a result. Parents will be seeking out tools and products that will help their kids practice mindfulness, ease anxieties, and make time for self-care activities. Kids yoga mats will likely see an increase this year, especially as a tool for outdoor learning or outside reading time. Fidget toys will also continue to be an obsession for kids and will be an essential back-to-school product for children and tweens dealing with distractions and anxieties about returning to school. 

We Bring You Up to the Speed of Now

We’re Brand Central Insights, a custom trend intelligence service from licensing agency Brand Central. We understand that trends change so quickly it can hinder the ability to strategize and innovate, so we created a unique offering that distills pop culture trends and market insights most important to your business so you can stay focused on the future. Unlike other “syndicated” trend services, Brand Central Insights only gives you trends specific to your business and core consumer, along with actionable recommendations on how to leverage these trends to drive sales and build buzz. Each month we’ll be rounding up the hottest trends across food, fashion, home, influencers, and more to show you what we’ve been loving.

Want even more trends in the meantime? Contact us to learn more about Brand Central Insights and for a sample report! This month we’re offering special pricing to celebrate Brand Central’s 20th anniversary. Email Alicia at today for more information. 

Brand Central’s Trend Service Announces New Clients



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