Why Sports Clubs love Licensing – Visit us at SMLS

The licensed sports merchandise market is sprinting into the big leagues. In 2022, it was valued at around $31.3 billion and is forecasted to reach over $39.9 billion by 2028.

It’s big business and analysts suggest that the rising number of sports enthusiasts, urbanization, and increased online shopping will continue to fuel this expansion.

This is good news for sports clubs, tournaments, and associations, as licensed product ranges are great ways to score new sources of revenue, attract new fans, and give your existing customers something to cheer about.

Understanding licensing

A robust program of authentic licensees can provide a steady revenue stream, increase awareness and engagements, and help combat trademark infringements.

So, how does it work? Basically, a sports team or organization, through a contractual agreement, allows a licensee to use its name, logo or trademark on their products. The licensee pays a royalty to the sporting body – or licensor – for sales of merchandise featuring their logos and brands.

For licensees, being able to identify themselves as “the real deal” to fans, and being able to utilise official content in marketing material, helps bring in new sales and build a loyal customer base.

Building affinity with the brands, through branded products, is a crucial part of the fan experience. People want to celebrate their connection with their favourite clubs or brands.

Unfortunately, counterfeiters are also aware of the value of these brands. In January 2019, U.S. law enforcement agencies seized over 280,000 counterfeit sports-related items worth an estimated $24.2 million, which shows the scale of the problem.

When people buy fakes, it is to the detriment of whichever sport as it diverts funds away from the club or organization and may even support organized crime.

Having authentic product in the market can act as a deterrent to would be infringers and acts as an extra set of eyes protecting the interest of the brand.

Expanding product range

Licensed sports merchandise includes sports gear, as you would expect, and clothing, footwear, games and accessories. These are available to men, women and children and come in a range of colors and sizes. But the real successes come from the new, different and unique products and collaborations that bring fans something new or expose a new audience to the brand.

And there are many success stories in the sports merchandising arena, including H&M’s NFL leisurewear and Spanish football club, Real Madrid, who have nearly 130 active licensees selling products in 97 countries, just to name a couple.

And the ranges are becoming even more diverse. For example, American chef and TV presenter Guy Fieri recently announced the first NFL x Flavortown t-shirt collection in collaboration with clothing brand Homage. The collection includes all 32 teams in the league with each t-shirt featuring the local foods. Fieri, who through his hit show ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives’ has explored the culinary offerings throughout the US, reckons that “local flavors are as iconic as the teams’ mascots”.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, luxury jeweler Mappin & Webb has a three-year licensing agreement with Team GB, the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic team. It plans to create an exclusive jewelry collection that celebrates the spirit of the Olympic Games and the Team GB athletes’ achievements.

With globally recognized brands, passionate fans, and the globalization of the major sports clubs, licensed sports merchandising looks set to continue its gold medal winning performance.

Are you building a sports brand licensing program?

If you’re building a sport brand licensing program, you may want to check out the Sports Merchandise and Licensing Show.

This event, now in its ninth year, will be held at Stamford Bridge in London, the home of Chelsea football club on October 17.

You can meet the Dependable Solutions team at the event – we’re at stand 82.

Check out this White Paper from DSI on Sports Licensing


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