REPORT: The global licensing industry achieved US$340 billion in 2022 sales

The industry grew 8% last year, compared to 2021, thanks to explosive growth from location-based entertainment and restaurant services.
August 17, 2023

The global licensing industry generated more than US$340.8 billion in revenue last year from merchandise and services. In total, the industry grew 8% when compared to 2021 (US$315 billion), according to New York-based Licensing International’s 8th annual Global Licensing Industry Study, published today. 

When accounting for the worldwide inflation rate of 8.8%, the results show that the licensing industry’s performance was relatively flat in 2022, according to the report. This is reflected most in the study’s largest product categories—toys (up 2%), apparel (up 5.9%) and fashion accessories (up 7%). 

Despite these results, 2022 saw global consumers shift their appetite away from products for new licensed experiences as families returned to group outings in force. Licensed restaurants, hotels and hospitality services generated US$6.8 billion last year, growing a massive 205.6%. This is followed by location-based entertainment and promotions, which experienced a 67.3% uptick in sales to US$7.9 billion. 

But what worked best for the companies launching location-based experiences? One of the top last year was retailers experimenting with smaller in-store formats and exhibits. This allowed other retailers and brands to lease out space within the store and sell exclusive products. Retailers view these pop-up destinations as new ways to tap into a brand’s community by offering a wide range of experiences, including activities, cafes and product repairs, according to the study. As a result, retailers report seeing more in-store foot traffic in 2022. 

When looking at international markets, APAC (up 12.4%), LATAM (up 8.8%) and Middle East and Africa (up 8.6%) all saw some significant growth. The APAC growth was caused by a rapidly expanding middle class and urbanization occurring in Southeast Asian countries, according to the report. The growth in incomes was reflected in the licensed merchandise sales in the region, which was worth US$12.4 billion, up from US$11 billion in 2021. 

Many of the study’s surveyed licensing companies felt a content “void” last year from a lack of new theatrical releases, which fragmented the audience across several streaming platforms. The report predicts that this void will continue to be felt into 2024, with streamers ordering fewer films and TV and the ongoing strikes halting future productions. 

Video games could have the power to counteract this dearth in new properties, though. The category generated more than US$31.5 billion in global sales in 2022 and now accounts for 9% of the total licensing market, beating out other categories such as publishing (3%), sporting goods (4%) and food and beverage (6%). 

Photo of Nickelodeon Riviera Maya resort, courtesy of Paramount 

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