Trend Report from Licensing Expo 2024

by Lisa Orman | 06 Jun 2024

Industry Commentary, Op-Ed


Even though I’ve been in the play industry for 30 years, I’ve somehow never been to Licensing Expo so with this being my year dedicated to trying new things and attending new shows, off I went! It did not disappoint.


My first reaction was it felt much more corporate and professional than other big shows like Toy Fair in NY. True, there were many smaller booths presented by independent brands or service providers on the outer limits of the show floor, but the whole center of the floor was dominated by huge companies with very expensive booths.


After just a few minutes scouting the floor, I noticed how many toy, game and children’s entertainment brands were present, and how many people I knew at the show. Somehow I was expecting more like a 50/50 mix and maybe it’s been that in the past with a larger presence of consumer brands like Coke, Nike, and beauty products, but it was more like 80-90% juvenile brands, to my eye.


Many of the trends I saw related to merchandise licensed from entertainment/movie properties. I attended the Empowerment Day hosted by WIT at Licensing and keynote speaker Kidfinity CEO Lisa Whitaker presented these fascinating revenue trends shifting in 2023 and 2024:


2023 Top 10 Toy Properties

(As compared to 2020 Ranking)

  1. Pokémon (#4 in 2020)
  2. Barbie (#2 in 2020)
  3. Squishmallows (N/A)
  4. Star Wars (#3)
  5. Marvel (#5)
  6. Hot Wheels (#6)
  7. Fisher-Price (n/a)
  8. LEGO Star Wars (n/a)
  9. Disney Princess (Frozen #8)
  10. Melissa & Doug (#10)

Interesting side note from Lisa’s presentation:

Top Brands in ‘20 No Longer in Top 10:

-LOL Surprise (was #1)

-Nerf (was #7)

-Little Tikes (was #9)


Here’s what saw a lot of at Licensing:

  • Kidult brands
  • Animé
  • Video Game companies with game consoles and lounges to play
  • Nostalgic/retro brands, many celebrating big anniversaries and adding new entertainment content this year and next on streaming platforms: Teletubbies, Miffy (70 years!), Care Bears, Peanuts (celebrating 75 years in 2025, booth was jammed and everyone I know who attended had visited that booth!), Dr. Seuss, The Smurfs and Rainbow Brite (40 years!).


One more thing: there were so many retailers! I was spotting badges and my rep friends were beside themselves with glee to have such a good turnout and big range of buyers. Trade shows are constantly getting beaten up for not having enough retail traffic so it should be celebrated when a show succeeds at it!


Can’t wait for Licensing Expo 2025! Enjoy the photos from 2024 below...





















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