Disney’s $56.2B in Retail Sales Leads Global Brand Licensing Race

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The Walt Disney Co.’s Disney Consumer Products unit repeated as the top licensor in the world in 2021 with $56.2 billion in retail sales of licensed merchandise worldwide, according to an annual ranking by License Global magazine published Thursday.

That’s up from $54 billion in consumer products sales in 2020 for the studio with iconic properties like Disney, Pixar, Marvel, the Star Wars franchise and ESPN. That revenue generating performance for Walt Disney came as the pandemic during the last two years severely disrupted the brand licensing and merchandising pipeline onto retail and digital store shelves, and major entertainment brands had to adapt and recover to maintain their global share of key licensed merchandise revenues.

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WarnerMedia’s consumer products unit, which includes Warner Bros. and the merchandise-heavy Cartoon Network, came in fourth with $15 billion in sales by mining major franchises like Harry Potter, Friends, Games of Thrones, Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman.

The License Global league table included The Pokemon Company International coming in with $8.5 billion in sales, toy maker Hasbro with its Peppa Pig property close behind in sixth place with $8.4 billion in sales, and NBCUniversal in 7th place with $8.3 billion in consumer products sales from properties like Illumination’s Minions, Jurassic World, Fast & Furious and DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls.

“Last year was a critical time for brands and retailers across all product categories as they reassessed how to support and engage with consumers amid year two of the pandemic,” Amanda Cioletti, vp of content and strategy at the Global Licensing Group, Informa Markets, said in a statement.

Hollywood is increasingly turning to social influencers to get products on store shelves and online stores, and even Netflix, following Walt Disney’s lead, has launched an online store for branded merchandise.

Elsewhere on the list, toy maker Mattel came in 8th place on the License Global ranking with an estimated $7.4 billion in sales last year, and Paramount Global, with its Nickelodeon unit, rounded out the top ten with $6 billion in revenue generated.

License Global’s top ten retail sales 2021 list is below (full list here):

1. Disney – $56.2B
2. Dotdash Meredith – $35.9B
3. Authentic Brands Group – $21.7B
4. WarnerMedia/Warner Bros. Consumer Products – $15B
5. The Pokemon Company International – $8.5B
6. Hasbro – $8.4B
7. NBCUniversal/Universal Brand Development – $8.3B
8. Mattel – $7.4B
9. Bluestar Alliance – $6.5B
10. Paramount Global/Paramount Consumer Products and Experiences – $6B

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