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Licensing International Releases Global Licensing Industry Study 2022

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Licensing International has released its 2022 Global Industry Study, capturing the size and state of the licensing industry and how sales of licensed merchandise rebounded amidst the pandemic. Diving into categories across entertainment, sports, retail, fashion/apparel, and more – the report also shows how pandemic trends continue to shape consumer behavior. Data shows the licensing industry and sales of licensed merchandise strongly rebounded amidst coronavirus pandemic and residual economic shocks.


Summary & Key findings


The 2022 Licensing International Global Licensing Industry Study, conducted by Brandar Consulting LLC, captures the size and state of the licensing industry and highlights impressive growth of licensed products over the two-year period from 2019 to 2021:
Global sales of licensed merchandise and services surpassed a $300-billion milestone, reaching $315.5 billion in sales in 2021
The overall licensing industry grew by 7.75% since 2019


Insights from the report show how several pandemic trends continue to shape consumer behavior and impact the global licensing industry at large, including:

Consumers, retailers, and licensees – faced with a scarcity of new entertainment content amidst pandemic-related production shutdowns – migrated toward evergreen entertainment properties, whether it be nostalgic entertainment, iconic celebrities, or well-established corporate brands.

Both consumer comfort and the staying power behind classic, proven brands were key drivers behind this switch.


After suffering significant disruptions due to Covid, the sports industry saw a strong rebound in 2021, growing 8% since 2019
Name, Image, and Likeness agreements for college athletes became a reality, contributing to significant growth in sports licensing opportunities as the collegiate category grew 18.6%


A strong focus on health and wellness continues to have a profound impact on how we live, work, and play
The publishing category was up 20.1% as consumers turned to leisure reading for entertainment and mental well-being; Young Adult fiction in particular saw massive growth during the pandemic, driven in large part by tweens and teens recommending books to each other on TikTok

Licensed sales in the health and beauty category grew 6.1%


The retail landscape continues to evolve following an explosion of e-commerce, with 34% of global licensed sales happening online (up from 22% in 2019). Licensees have since enhanced their direct-to-consumer and e-commerce capabilities to stay competitive in the new retail environment.


The real estate market has driven growth in numerous additional categories spanning home décor, housewares, lawn and garden


Hybrid experiences blending digital and physical brand engagement have become a key part of the marketing mix, as IP owners explore NFTs, eSports, metaverse activations, and more opportunities to expand fan bases and market new products and properties


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies became table stakes for companies as Millennial and Gen Z consumers demand both sustainability and diversity initiatives from the brands and products they choose to purchase.

This theme also contributed to growth in the non-profit sector (up 8.4%) as consumers supported museums, churches, charities, and special interest organizations aligning with their values