November 8, 2020

Three Key Takeaways From Licensing Leadership Summit 2020

For an exciting two days, we attended the Licensing Leadership Summit and watched as top industry leaders from Zynga, ViacomCBS and TrendWatching shared their expertise and experience in the licensing industry. After joining a series of live keynotes and on-demand sessions, we derived one key thesis that embodied the entire event: the digital age is here to stay, and brands are beginning to focus on the digital opportunities open in their industry.

Looking ahead, we’ll analyze three key takeaways that support the overarching thesis of the Licensing Leadership Summit. From learning about the diverse directions brands are taking in the digital space to creating new consumer product strategies, we’ve compiled all of the notable topics showcased throughout this two-day virtual event.

It’s More Than A Video Game

We know all too well how crucial the digital space has become in our daily lives. From working remotely to passing time through online entertainment, we’ve seen all sectors within the digital space grow immensely the past year. Specifically, the gaming industry has been overlooked as a pot of gold for licensed digital content before the global pandemic. 

Now, the gaming industry prides itself on a revenue of 110 billion dollars and a forecast of staying on top of TV and movie trends to incorporate into games. Licensing Leadership Summit’s on-demand session, “How Games Ate The Licensing World,” featured SVP & Head of Corporate Strategy, M&A and Business Development at Zynga, Chris Petrovic as he discussed the meteoric rise of the gaming industry and the factors that caused it.

“The licenses are a great entry point, but at the end of the day, you have to fundamentally have a great game that is executed well in order to take full advantage of the benefits of licensed brands.” 

– Chris Petrovic

SVP & Head of Corporate Strategy, M&A and Business Development at Zynga

In Chris’s discussion, he explains the initial slow entrance of licensed collaborations starting with PC gaming. This then moves into online gaming through platforms like Facebook, which then developed into mobile gaming. The opportunities for licensed brands are endless with the emergence of new pathways they can take through free-to-play business models, smartphones and IP. 

Content Is a Connection To The Consumer Journey

Every topic and interest you find online will have some form of content available to you from anywhere in the world. Now, more than ever, content is our connection to how we learn, grow and maintain communication with those around us. At Licensing Leadership Summit, industry leaders are spreading awareness on how to use and manipulate content to connect and build a relationship with their audience on any platform. 

ViacomCBS held an on-demand session,“From Screen to Shelves,” with Senior Vice President, Production Development at Nickelodeon, Nina Hahn; Executive Vice President, Franchise Planning at ViacomCBS, Veronica Hart; and Senior Vice President, International Licensing at ViacomCBS, Mark Kingston to discuss how content “travels” and how they were able to create a path to sell content in the form of consumer goods around the world.

One of the most important takeaways from this session was Hahn’s explanation for how Nickelodeon strategizes and delivers consumer products from their digital content. She dives into the factors that need to be considered before going to the drawing board: early implementation of the storyline, consumer behavior surrounding their current content and the consumer bond between digital and physical. Once all of these factors are considered, her team can produce physical goods loved by fans who were originally obsessed with their digital content.

Be Aware of the Trends Reshaping Consumer Landscape

COVID-19 has caused waves of aftershocks with retailers pulling the brakes and taking a step back to reassess the changing consumer landscape. Over the past months, we’ve heard calls to adapt and mold into what the consumers are looking for today and their sudden changes in buying behavior. Maxwell Luthy, Evangelist At Large at TrendWatching,  discussed how these new trends will forever rewrite the rules in the licensing industry and unlock new opportunities.

Luthy discussed the ease for both brands and their customers to feel overwhelmed as life for everyone froze and drastically changed. All industries in every part of the world began to scramble, and plans had to be revised to fit the digital arena. Luthy explains that, despite all of this, consumers still have the same old desires that they are looking to fill even when the world seems to be spinning the other way. 

“COVID-19 poured rocket fuel on consumer expectations.” 

– Maxwell Luthy

Evangelist At Large, TrendWatching

The most important key trends Luthy mentioned is how business is now social. Social media is heavily relied on for creating connections with consumers, and these platforms are creating new features to assist brands in spreading awareness and driving sales. He encourages all brands to take this opportunity to adapt their strategies and build their online community.

The Licensing Leadership Summit has been one of the most insightful and informative events this past year, where industry leaders from around the globe shared their knowledge and recommendations to take action in the licensing space. We’re very grateful to have been part of this experience and look forward to next year’s summit, where we can see how trends from this year have evolved and the state of brands post-pandemic.

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