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Licensing Trumped?

By Karina Masolova
Updated Nov. 22, 2016 with retail sales data

For the first time, we have a president who has actively embraced licensing, from menswear to hotels—and despite some bumps, he’s been quite good at it. You might remember, in your spare moments at this year’s Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, that the big scandal at the time was Trump’s extensive consumer products program—most of the products are manufactured overseas.

Big-picture economics

What does a Trump presidency mean for the economy, and for licensing specifically? We won’t know, for sure, for a while. And naturally, different sectors such as fashion and tech, will be differently impacted. The general perception is that, with a few bumps, business will go on as usual. We’re a hopeful industry, and for good reason—business always goes on. For better or worse, the National Retail Federation is standing by its Nov. and Dec. 2016 sales forecast to increase 3.6% year-over-year.

But TLL is observing distance from some who have taken on a wait-and-see approach towards increased expansion into international markets, especially Latin America and the Middle East. On the flip side, international companies are hesitant about making new deals in the U.S. until their trade concerns are addressed.

Retail Sales of Trump-branded Goods

TLL estimates that the three Trump brands—the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection, Trump Home, and Trump Select—cleared around $5-10 million in licensed consumer product retail sales in the U.S. and Canada in 2016. In its heyday (that is, before Trump-branded goods were pulled from the shelves of biggies like Macy’s), the brand made a bit more—anywhere from $10-20 million in retail sales. For a bigger picture of Trump’s branding efforts, The Real Deal reports that, during the 18 month period between Jan. 2014–Jun. 2015, Trump earned somewhere between $9 million and $36 million in income from royalties. That figure includes his branded real estate—hotels and skyscrapers—as well as his fashion and home collections.

But the real money-maker this year was daughter Ivanka Trump, who saw interest in her own brand soar as the campaign heated up. TLL estimates that the Ivanka Trump Collection’s licensed retail sales reached around $150 million in 2016. Her apparel, footwear, jewelry, and handbag lines are stocked in Macy’s (sorry, dad) along with other major online and department outlets. The apparel line is the biggest chunk of the pie, at an estimated $100 million in retail sales (in 2015, according to Forbes); licensee G-III reported an $11.8 million growth in net sales of Ivanka-branded products for the first 6 months of 2016, compared to the same time period in 2016.

For the Trumps, sales are going to be dinged by the #GrabYourWallet campaign and other general boycotts. But retailers aren’t dropping Ivanka from shelves as they did Donald. And her company reports that site traffic figures are recovering. Although they won’t return to peak campaign levels anytime soon, the Ivanka line is here to stay. What will truly be interesting to see is if retailers decide to embrace the Trump brand once more.


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