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What’s a Licensing Exec Worth?

What is a licensing executive worth? Combining our research from TLL’s Annual Licensing Business Survey, TLL’s 2016 Salary Survey and demographic data from the Licensing Source Book, we’ve come up with an interesting answer to that question.

On average, TLL estimates that top executives are responsible for $19.6 million in retail sales while pulling less than one percent of that in salary and bonus. Broken out by major territories, licensing executives based in Asia manage the most money compared to their territory’s estimated 2015 retail sales ($36.6 million), followed by Latin America ($23.1 million), U.S./Canada ($18.9 million), and Europe ($16.9 million).

Note that this is an imperfect science for a couple of reasons, not the least of which are:

  • We’ve calculated each executive’s “worth” equally, so that an average agent or consultant is assumed to generate as much licensed retail sales as a licensor or licensee.
  • Licensing executives based in a particular country do not necessarily directly contribute to the licensing business in that territory. For example, a top executive that manages the whole of Latin America might be based in their company’s U.S. headquarters; likewise, those who manage the Middle East and Africa are often based in Europe. This trend is shifting in recent years as companies expand their business as close to the ground as possible in order to capture the unique quirks of doing business in new territories.
Retail Sales Per Licensing Executive, Worldwide
Rank Territory Share of Licensing Executives Retail Sales Per Executive, in Millions
1 Asia 6.5% $36.62
2 Latin America 2.1% $23.07
3 U.S./Canada 65.6% $18.92
4 Europe 23.0% $16.85
5 Australia/New Zealand 1.9% $14.25
6 Middle East & Africa 0.8% $14.09
Total 100.0% $19.55

The top five countries based on population of licensing executives doesn’t follow the same trend as retail sales figure for each country. For example, the second-largest market for licensed retail sales, Japan, would have been number 6 on this list. And for the reasons listed above, the analysis by country is questionable at best. But for your viewing pleasure, here is what an average licensing executive can be expected to work with at home.

Retail Sales Per Licensing Executive for Top Countries by Population, Worldwide
Rank Top Countries by Population of Licensing Executives Share of Licensing Executives Retail Sales Per Licensing Executive, in Millions
1 U.S. 62.5% $18.04
2 U.K. 12.2% $7.22
3 Germany 3.2% $20.03
4 Canada 3.1% $36.62
5 Australia 1.8% $13.35

Where’s the Money? Breakdown by Property Type

While entertainment/character leads worldwide retail sales of licensed merchandise for the top five major product categories we track—and certainly makes for the flashiest headlines—don’t forget that corporate trademarks and fashion sports brands generate more retail sales. Although entertainment/character licensors make up 29.3% of the executive population worldwide, they don’t necessarily manage the most funds.

While only 3.0% of licensing executives worldwide work as licensors for fashion brands, they individually oversee $569.7 million in retail sales. Sports licensors are second (5.4% of the worldwide population, with each licensor responsible for $160.5 million in sales attributed to the property type); corporate trademark (9.5%; $159.4 million); and finally entertainment (29.3%, $42.7 million). And while we don’t break out “other” categories for the rest of the world, note that it includes apparel and accessories licensors, who make up 10.2% of the world’s population; as well as publishing (5.8%); and digital, online, and video game executives (5.2%).

Retail Sales Per Licensor, by Property Type, in Millions
Property Type U.S./Canada Rest of World Worldwide
Fashion $445.57 $835.00 $569.74
Corporate Trademarks & Brands $157.97 $165.07 $159.40
Sports $164.29 $0.00 $160.49
Art, Artists & Museums $23.70 $62.87 $31.03
Entertainment & Characters $32.28 $55.18 $42.66
Other $32.08 $39.50 $33.88
All Licensors $63.90 $87.62 $70.95

We don’t consider distrobution of licensing executives in our analysis of retail sales of licensed merchandise by property type. But the numbers line up fairly evenly—especially when comparing the U.S./Canada to the rest of the world.

Comparison of Share of Licensed Merchandise v. Share of Licensors, Worldwide
Note: Numbers may not add up exactly due to rounding.
U.S./Canada Rest of World
Property Type Share of Retail Sales, 2015 Share of Licensors Share of Retail Sales, 2015 Share of Licensors
Entertainment & Character 41.4% 54.7% 58.5% 45.3%
Sports 74.3% 72.6% 25.6% 27.4%
Fashion 53.3% 68.1% 46.8% 31.9%
Corporate/ Trademark 79.2% 79.9% 20.8% 20.1%
Art 62.1% 81.3% 37.9% 18.7%
Other 71.7% 75.8% 28.2% 24.2%
Total 63.3% 70.3% 36.7% 29.7%


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