Worldwide retail sales of licensed merchandise rose by 4.2% last year to $251.7 billion, with help from consumers’ passion for all things Star Wars, the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) reports this morning at the kickoff of the industry’s annual Licensing Expo confab in Las Vegas.
Rights holders’ share of the retail pie increased 7.8% to $13.9 billion as the average royalty rate grew to 8.5% from 8.2%, according to the info from the second Annual Global Licensing Industry Survey by Brandar Consulting.
Toys, clothing, and other goods tied to entertainment and characters, including movies and TV shows, accounted for 45% of the global retail sales for licensed merchandise, or $113.2 billion — up from $107.2 billion in 2014.
Star Wars was the force with which everyone reckoned.
The Disney release, with $700 million in retail sales last year, “brought in more sales and contributed more growth than Jurassic World, Minions, and Avengers combined,” research firm NPD Group said in January. It estimated that sales of movie-related merchandise grew 9.4% in 2015.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens is undoubtedly the story of the year,” LIMA SVP Marty Brochstein says. “It became something that affected everybody else’s business. This is a business of share of mind, and it was tough to get in front of the consumer with other things because Star Wars was so strong.”
Its success could pose a problem for this year’s sales tally.
“The natural order of things is that the second year won’t be as big as the first,” Brochstein says. “You have a very different story this year with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It’s for an older audience than The Force Awakens. And by nature those don’t draw as much licensing business…..It would be the natural way if things weren’t quite at the level they were in 2015.”
That’s important because the consumers are inundated with licensed merchandise.
Still, store shelves and ecommerce sites probably will soon become even more stuffed with entertainment-related stuff.
When Comcast’s NBCUniversal closes its acquisition of DreamWorks Animation it plans to heavily promote merchandise around its productions — including Shrek.
In addition, YouTube channels and video on demand services including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu are developing programs and characters.
Last year consumers in the U.S. and Canada spent $145.5 billion on all licensed merchandise, up 3.9%, and accounting for 57.7% of the global total. The rest of the world spent $106.4 billion, up 4.8%.
It wasn’t all about entertainment. People spent $52.8 billion on products with corporate trademarks. Fashion names sold $29.8 billion. And sports accounted for another $24.9 billion.
Clothing and apparel led the way among licensed products, with $37.9 billion in retail sales. It was followed by toys ($33.7 billion) and fashion accessories ($28.5 billion).
Most people still buy at bricks and mortar stores. But online sales are steadily growing: They represented 18.3% of last year’s licensed retail sales, up from 16.4% in 2014.