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Walt Disney Company world's is leading licensor with $56.6bn in licensed products in 2016

Disney photo

With more than $272bn in global sales of retail merchandise last year, a License Global magazine report lists the Walt Disney Company as the world’s leading licensor with brands that include Lucasfilm, Marvel, ABC, ESPN, DisneyPixar and Walt Disney Studios and a total of $56.6bn in licensed merchandise sold in 2016.

With 55 out of the 150 brands profiled in the report earning $1bn or more in retail licensing sales last year, the report notes seven new companies earning over $1bn including Viz Media (No. 150); Diageo, owner of brands such as Guinness and Smirnoff (No. 78); household appliance maker Hamilton Beach Brands (No. 111); London design house Santoro (No. 134); American casual dining brand Tony Roma's (No. 138); gardening brand Scotts Miracle-Gro (No. 139); premium ice cream franchise Cold Stone Creamery (No. 142); and Biltmore, inspired by the iconic Biltmore House and Gardens in Asheville, N.C. (No. 149).

After Disney, the global publishing house Meredith earned $22.8bn in retail sales of licensed products for brands such as Better Homes and Gardens, Shape, Allrecipes, EatingWell and more. Further, PVH Corp, which owns fashion powerhouse brands Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger earned $18bn in 2016, while Iconix Brand Group, a brand management firm with a diverse roster that includes Mossimo, Umbro and Peanuts reached $12b. Warner Bros. Consumer Products, which saw big success with its DC Universe and Harry Potter franchises in 2016 as well as TV properties such as "The Big Bang Theory" ($6.5b) came in at number five, while Hasbro ($6.2b) is followed by Universal Brand Development ($6.1b); Nickelodeon ($5.5b); Major League Baseball ($5.5b); and IMG College Licensing/Collegiate Licensing Company ($4.5b).

"The Top 150 Global Licensors report offers insights and trends for the world's major brands in the entertainment, sports, fashion/apparel, corporate, art and non-profit sectors and exemplifies the popularity of consumers' favorite brands around the world," ​said Tony Lisanti, global editorial director, License Global. "This report also reinforces the importance of licensed brands as a critical business for many of the world's largest retailers."

Other companies that climbed the ranks include The Pokémon Company International, which moved up ten spots to No. 19 on momentum from the brand's 20th anniversary in 2016 and the global phenomenon that was the "Pokémon Go" mobile app; machinery brand Caterpillar, which jumped four spots to No. 24 after finding success in the smartphone market with the launch of the first-ever phone with thermal imaging; Moose Toys, which moved up an incredible 84 spots to No. 53 following the runaway retail success of its collectible toy brand Shopkins; Rovio Entertainment, which got a boost from The Angry Birds Movie that propelled it up 16 spots to No. 63; and Sony Pictures, which saw increased sales for both classic and new Ghostbusters merchandise following its reboot of the franchise, propelling it up 5 spots to No. 87.

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Laurie Fullerton

Laurie Fullerton is a writer based in Boston, MA with a background in business, sports, community, medical and travel writing. She has been a newspaper editor in the Boston-area, a sports writer covering yacht racing and a community reporter. She has been reporting for The Drum since October 2015.

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