This post is by Darren Brechin, Event Director at Brand Licensing Europe.

The licensing industry is a part of our everyday lives, and it is only getting larger. For retailers, in particular, it presents a variety of key and unique opportunities, but what exactly do these consist of and why are they so crucial?

1. It's a multibillion-dollar retail market globally

The licensing industry is huge and it is continuing to grow. Sales of licensed products generated an estimated $115.75 billion in the US and Canada alone last year, according to the Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association – that's the third consecutive year that this figure has grown. The seminars held at Brand Licensing Europe give some essential insight into this growth, including trends and upcoming industry opportunities.

2. It's not just for children!

Traditionally the licensing industry has been associated with the children's sector – think Peppa Pig, Dora The Explorer and Thomas the Tank Engine. However this is changing, making the industry impossible to ignore. Recent success stories outside of the traditional children's sector include Downton Abbey, The Great British Bake Off, Chelsea FC and The Imperial War Museum, tapping into a whole new demographic, and therefore revenue.

3. The 'brand' is more important than ever

The growth of the importance of the 'brand' means that in many product categories, it may be the only key distinction for consumers. Brands that have high consumer recognition and loyalty have been successfully extended into new product categories for many years through licensing and it's often a very effective way of driving sales.

4. There are greater opportunities for collaboration

Events like Brand Licensing Europe allow retailers to spot the next big thing first, with attendance from companies such as ASOS, Tesco, Red Bull Racing, Merlin Entertainment, Next and M&S. One of the key offerings of the licensing industry to retailers is that it brings access to unique products that can be brought to market quickly. The opportunities for this are growing, with more and more opportunities for licensees and retailers to collaborate, and areas of the show such as the Retail Buyers Lounge allow this to take place.

5. It's a brilliant and cost-effective marketing tool

A fantastic new licensed property can be successful very quickly across a diverse range of categories, bringing in a high return on investment. Consumers are often on the look out for products with a point of difference, so finding a successful licensee is a great way for retailers to provide exclusive products to their audience and grow profits.

Understanding the industry

However, in order to take advantage of these opportunities, buyers should be fully educated on the intricacies of the industry. Initiatives such as Brand Licensing Europe's Retail Mentoring Programme can help with this, offering workshops and seminars over a six month period to buyers from companies such as Debenhams, Boots and Sainsbury's. The programme aims to give participants confidence in their knowledge of the industry, increasing awareness and understanding of trends and allowing them to be able to make a call on the value of a brand to their product.

As the influence of the licensing industry continues to increase, it's vital that retailers are fully aware of the openings available to them – so make sure your team are equipped with the knowledge to take advantage of them!

Brand Licensing Europe 2014 takes place 7 – 9th October at Olympia, London

For further information and to register for FREE entry please visit: