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Licensing Expo Attracts Record Crowd of Retailers

This year’s Licensing Expo saw a sharp rise in attendees from the world’s retailers, according to Licensing International.

The association says last week’s event drew thousands of attendees from the world’s most reputable retailers and licensees. The number of retailers in attendance rose 42% from the 2019 event, marking record growth for Licensing Expo.

Licensing International says some of the many attending companies included Target, Hot Topic, Walmart, Fanatics, Five Below, Zulily, Centric Brands, Primark, Burlington Stores, CVS, Forever 21, El Corte Ingles, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Hybrid Apparel, Mad Engine, ASOS, Inditex, Hallmark Cards, Jakks Pacific, PacSun, H&M, Crocs, and Bioworld Merchandising. Many brought large teams to span multiple product categories.

Held live at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas from May 24 through 26, the event’s in-person return was highly anticipated by the $292 billion global licensing industry, indicated by the nearly 5,500 meetings held on the show floor, with many more expected on the online platform, standing room-only keynote sessions, and well-attended educational and networking seminars.

The vibrant show floor hosted more than 250 exhibitors spanning the widest cross selection of categories to date—Characters & Entertainment, Art & Design, Gaming & eSports, Music, Agents, Corporate Brands, Location-Based Entertainment, and more—all benefiting from 10,000+ unique attendees in search of new partners, brands, products, and trends to introduce to consumers.

“We’re still reeling from last week’s remarkable event—everything from the engagement, education, to the dazzling booths surpassed everyone’s expectations,” said Anna Knight, SVP of the Global Licensing Group, organizers of Licensing Expo. “All we heard for three days was the incredible quality of attendees, underscoring the pent-up demand for an in-person event after three years apart. Thank you to everyone who collectively made the event the astounding success that it was.

Licensing Expo was held both in-person and online for the first time, opening the digital platform in advance of the live get-together for attendees to discover licensable IPs and schedule meetings for a productive on-site experience. Additionally, the online platform remains open from May 27 to June 3 to facilitate follow-up appointments and enable guests the opportunity to engage with content on-demand at a convenient time.

Warren Schorr

“It was wonderful to be back in person; the show exceeded all our expectations,” said Warren Schorr, SVP of Business Development & Global Licensing at Crayola. “While the show is always great for pre-booked meetings with traditional licensing industry partners, first-time attendees in Location-Based Entertainment (LBE), interactive, and traditional categories brought a fresh perspective and energy to the show.

Crayola is among the companies making new moves in the LBE sector. The concept of a place where the magic of Crayola came to life began 25 years ago as The Crayola Factory in Easton, Pa.

Recognizing the desire by consumers for family-driven experiences that were fun, educational, and repeatable, Crayola saw an opportunity in LBE and in 2013 reimagined the downtown attraction as Crayola Experience. The company also owns and operates Crayola Experiences in Orlando, Fla.; at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.; in Plano, Texas; and in Chandler, Ariz.

The Crayola Experience at the Florida Mall
Photo by Preston Mack / Crayola

With venues ranging from 20,000 to 60,000 square feet, Crayola Experience engages more than 1.5 million kids and adults annually in activities inspired by and incorporating proprietary Crayola products and technologies.

During this week’s show, Schorr said the Crayola team was kept busy with partnership discussions in multiple categories, including LBE.

“Decision-makers came looking for opportunities,” he said. “Based on how our booth and the booths around us were packed, I expect most attendees came away with a robust pipeline for future new business.”

In addition to discovering trend-driven IPs, registered guests had access to three days of expert-led education. Throughout the show, the Licensing U Theater drew thousands of guests for sustainability education, insights on entering the licensing industry, trend predictions, and much more.

Steven Heller, President and Founder of The Brand Liaison, a prominent exhibitor at Licensing Expo, added, “It was so great to be back live and in-person; the energy at Licensing Expo 2022 was beyond incredible. The show was crowded; everyone was excited about new licensing deals, bringing new products to market, and new brands. Can’t wait till 2023.”

Next year’s Licensing Expo is already open for registration, so if you haven’t had enough Expo yet, register here to engage with the event’s online platform, and save the date for next year’s Licensing Expo, returning from May 23–25, 2023, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Licensing Expo Says Live Trade Show Will Return to Vegas In May