Licensing International Expo Unveils Matchmaking, Sports-themed Attendee Engagement in Las Vegas

June 27, 2016

Wonder Woman, with its feature film coming out next year, led the parade of characters and other licensable properties at the 36th annual Licensing International Expo that took place June 21-23 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Produced by UBM and sponsored by the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA), the show boasted an extra 10,000 net square feet, with a total of about 240,000. More than 460 exhibitors represented some 5,000 brands. Attendance was expected to be on par with last year at about 16,000.

“LIMA recently announced that the market has grown 4.2 percent since last year, and the U.S. market is really stable,” said Jessica Blue, senior vice president, Licensing, UBM. “Consumers are more and more brand savvy and like to buy brands that they know and trust, and that’s what our show is all about.”

The move into the new exhibit hall of Mandalay Bay Convention Center has proven a success. Blue noted: “It has improved our visitor flow and made it much smoother.”

Blue attributes the jump in square footage to both larger spaces by existing exhibitors and an influx of influential new exhibitors taking substantial footprints. “Iconix Brand Group came in with 2,000 square feet, Equity Management Inc. with 1,000. That’s just to name a few.”

China had an impressive presence on the showfloor with a Chinese Pavilion and also the new 4,000 sq. ft. “China Art & Cultural Properties Area”, featuring traditional and contemporary Chinese art, artifacts from the Forbidden City and products ranging from bronze ware to cellphone cases.

Commenting on the move, Blue said: “In China, there’s currently a strong initiative supported by the government to export cultural heritage brands to the U.S. and South America. We’re the place where people come to expand their brands into new territories.”

New this year:

Opening Night Party at the Tropicana. After three years at Mandalay Bay Beach, the show moved the party across the Strip to The Havana Room and Sky Beach Club at the Trop.

Online and on-site matchmaking. The show invested heavily into a platform and a team to power the meetings that take place during the show and it paid off. “This is the kind of market where mid-size and small companies especially need help and support to find the right person because licensing cuts through dozens of categories. Sorting through that is hard,” Blue said.

Every registered attendee and exhibitor is searchable, which makes it easier to connect with the right people at large companies. Meetings can take place at exhibitors’ booths or at the on-site matchmaking lounge. The person who accepts the meeting gets to decide where it takes place.

Interactives at Sports Activation Zone. The new Sports Activation Zone presented by NFL Players Association offered attendees a chance to go head-to-head with the pros in field goal kicking, passer accuracy and tailgating games. They could also be part of iconic sports moments through digital photography.

Next year, the show is moving to May for better timing in the buying cycle and additional space between Brand Licensing Europe and E3 Expo.

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