Consumers’ interest in licensed merchandise remains strong. In its 2017 Annual Global Licensing Industry Survey, the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) reports that global sales of licensed products and services grew 4.4 percent in 2016 to $262.9 billion.

The industry’s largest segment remains entertainment/character, accounting for $118.3 billion, or 45 percent of the total global licensing market. Corporate/brand trademarks come in second, generating $54.6 billion, or 20.8 percent of total sales, followed by fashion—$31.1 billion, or 11.8 percent—and sports—$25.3 billion, or 9.6 percent.

“The 2017 Survey reinforces the positive momentum of licensed products worldwide and across all categories, especially the large and growing entertainment/ character sector,” says LIMA President Charles Riotto. “This year's results also speak to the impressive reach and strength of licensing initiatives in growth markets around the world, contributing to the continued vitality of the industry.”

Analyzed by product category, apparel led the way with 14.9 percent of total sales, followed by toys at 13.3 percent and fashion accessories at 11.3 percent. LIMA reports that infant and pet products were the fastest-growing categories, reflecting strong sales in those industries. The organization attributed 8.2-percent growth in the licensed home décor category to increases in home ownership and new housing starts in developing countries as well as a stronger housing market in the U.S. The video games/software/apps segment grew 8.1 percent over the past year, and now accounting for 6.9 percent of revenue, is the industry’s fifth largest category.

The U.S. and Canada remain the largest market for licensed merchandise and services, accounting for 57.9 percent of global sales, up slightly from 57.7 percent last year. The Southeast Asia/Pacific region was the fastest growing of all areas worldwide, with 6.8 percent year-on-year growth and now accounts for 3.4 percent of global licensing revenue.