Brand licensing is big business in Europe: Advice, lessons and case studies for the food industry

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Brand Licensing Europe character licensing

According to the International Licensing Industry merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) – the leading trade organization for the global licensing industry founded in 1985 – the retail sales of licensed goods in Europe reached $14.04bn in 2017. The annual sales generated royalties of $818m for property owners.

However, it is big business in other centers where the Global Licensing Group hosts its Licensing Expos.

Licensing Expo Las Vegas is the tradeshow organizers biggest and oldest show, launched in 1980. More than 16,000 retailers, licensee, manufacturers, distributors and licensing agent attend the Expo from more than 67 countries.

Licensing Expo China – only launched two years ago – has experienced the biggest growth, growing 9.8% year-over-year.

But it is Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) that mirrors what Steven Ekstract, 20-year industry veteran and License Global founder, describes as the melting pot of UK, European and global brands. The UK is the world’s second largest licensing market behind the US and generates more sales than Japan, Germany and China/Hong Kong.

Happy birthday

This year’s three day event – held at London Olympia from October 9-11 – celebrates the event’s 20th​ anniversary and features over 260 exhibitors representing more than 2,500 brands.

The theme – food and beverage (F&B) – was selected because of  its constant reinvention within the licensing arena. According to the organizers, F&B is one of the fastest-growing and most robust categories within licensing, with sales of licensed products reaching $16.3bn in 2017.

BLE featured a number of F&B sessions, ranging in topics from earning the right to approach food licensees to building a successful food licensing program.

So why get involved?

According to the organizers, brand licensing allows you to ‘rent’ a well-known brand and attach it to your own products to help increase sales and drive revenue growth.

Licensing is a marketing and brand extension tool that can be widely used by everyone, from major corporations to small businesses. It can extend a brand into new categories, areas of a store or into new stores entirely. It is also a way for brand owners to increase their current fan base and move into new businesses without major investment in new manufacturing processes.

Success stories

  • Confectioner Perfetti Van Melle was a forerunner to license a food and beverage brand on the European market 20 years ago. “This far-fetched initiative has proven to be, two decades later, a profitable and sustainable model,” Marta Ballesteros, licensing area manager, to License Global.
  • The Smiley Company has penned a deal with McDonald’s to feature the Rubik Cub in a McDonald’s Happy Meal promotion. The campaign was first launched in France last summer and will roll out across Italy, Spain, Austra, UAE and Canada in November 2018.
  • Beanstalk has brokered a deal between Finsbury Food Group and Baileys to produce the Baileys Freakshake Cake, launched in Asda stores in September. Finsbury has also launched a Baileys Yule Log in Tesco and Asda stores.
  • Nadiya Hussain, Great British Bake Off 2015 winner, has kick-started a massively successful licensing program. Represented by Start Licensing, together they have developed a program that includes several cookbooks, a novel and lending her ever-growing household name to kitchenware and accessories. She noted it has been a very slow process, but to get into the world of licensing has been amazing.
  • In the show’s newly launched BLE Kitchen, MasterChef UK 2018 winner Kenny Tutt and 2014 winner Ping Coombes cooked up a store on behalf of the Endemol Shine Group. MasterChef is the most successful cookery TV formal in the world, having been adapted locally in 52 countries and enticing a 250 million-plus audience. The brand has extended into a range of commercial activities across multiple platforms, including publishing, consumer products, live events and kitchenware.

Watch out for more on these stories and so much more in BakeryandSnacks’ special newsletter, out next week.

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