Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) – The worldwide trade organization for the licensing industry is rigorously working towards advancement of professionalism in licensing. During a conversation with License India, Martin Brochstein, SVP-Industry Relations and Information, LIMA Worldwide talks about the objective of LIMA for India and the advantages of LIMA membership for a licensee of a licensor operating in India.
What are LIMA’s prospects for India as a potential market for licensing industry?
We see India as a major growth area potentially for LIMA. We are a global organization and have a thousand companies in the world, so there are very specific places we see as potential markets for significant growth. India is one of them partially because India has been relative small market globally global. The licensing business internationally is USD 241 Billion as of 2014. India stands for about a billion dollar which is a very small part. That’s where the growth will come from.
How would LIMA promote growth in Indian licensing industry?
There are a lot of companies who want to get into licensing, some are most probably in licensing and they want to expand what they are doing. Our job as LIMA is to help them do that through networking, education or other assistance that we can give in term of putting them together with companies from elsewhere in world who want to do business in India and also Indian exporters to do business outside.
How can one be benefitted from LIMA membership?
The big thing that we can do is put companies together. If you have a company from the US that is working to find Indian partners, Indian licensees or who want to take Indian properties, LIMA can help facilitate that. Same way if you have been an Indian company in the business of licensing and expand beyond Indian borders, LIMA will come in handy there. The other big part is education. There is a very specific way that businesses are done in licensing business. You talk about protection of IP, making sure that goods are made within ethical standards, business relationships; LIMA can educate everybody about how to do business in licensing and how to do it better if you are already in licensing business.
A lot of major players are doing away with gender specific toys. What is your say on the same?
There are a lot of trends that are necessary to support not just licensing, but also the retail. One that is specific for licensing particularly in children’s area is that there are a lot of new properties from the big entertainment companies that are focused on empowering girls. You have the whole superhero thing going on for boys, and that is mostly for boys. Some girls do love the superheroes, but I think everybody has realized the need of that something empowering girls. So, several companies have been coming up with properties that are talking about similar things.
What other trends do you see in the licensing industry?
The corporate brand sector continues to grow; it is one of the four largest growing parts of the licensing business. But companies, who have classic consumer brands, have understood that those brands can be used in other ways through licensing. Another thing for 2015 is that everybody is waiting for what impact does the Star Wars have. Globally Star Wars is a huge entertainment phenomenon that has been going on since 1977. But this year is the first Star Wars movie that had been released since it has been under Disney’s ownership. Everybody knows it will be big, but how big…nobody knows. And that affects everybody else because retailers have a certain amount of shelf space. Star Wars will be placed differently around the world because it a major phenomenon for everybody. Another thing happening in the business is the celebrity licensing which continues to grow in all markets. Some celebrities are very local while others are cross borders and have wide reach. For instance David Beckham has gotten into licensing business. Moreover a whole new set of celebrities is coming through YouTube. The culture is changing and there are new parts of entertainment culture, so the celebrities are coming from a media that didn’t even existed 5 years ago. Another part of licensing business which is general is that social media has a big effect on it. It is a major marketing force in whatever happens and product licensing is no different. The effect has quickly exploded into a big phenomenon in the major changing of the business in past 2 years. In general, things now happen faster than they used to. They are built faster and they are sold more quickly.
How eCommerce is benefitting licensing business?
Ecommerce is very important in few areas but particularly we find it’s very important for sports licensing because probably the local retailers of India are not going to stock ManU merchandise for a fan of the club. Here online come into the picture. So, the market for sports business is particularly affected and benefitted from eCommerce. The other thing happens is when you walk into store, there is very defined amount of shelf space, while with eCommerce, the entire world is shelf space. ECommerce is definitely a growing areas for licensing business.
Don’t you think, eCommerce is somewhere promoting infringement?
Well, any technology can be used for good and evil. The downside for ecommerce is that it is easier to sell counterfeit goods online. The counterfeit problem is never going to do away, despite everybody doing their best to protect their IP. Ecommerce is just a part of what is going on.