As part of the Hong Kong International Licensing show,  the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center is hosting a series of international conferences with speakers.  Yesterday, ODM attended conference about the trends and features of the sports licensing industry – with a focus on the Asian market.

In recent decades, Sports & Sports Merchandising has transformed significantly and has become a global entertainment product. FIFA World Cup, Olympic Games, the NBA or the English Premier League now appeal to fans of all age groups throughout the world and are well known throughout Asia.

Beside the considerable weight of sports in the overall licensing industry  (it accounted for 17-18% of the business turnover in 2009 – 70% came from US and Canada), all of the speakers highlighted its unique and particular characteristics.

  • Combination of passion and fashion, licensed sports items benefit from the “forever brands” of the most famous clubs and sports teams.
  • Season after season, sports brands have built a strong image and visibility  (some clubs were created more than 100 hundred years ago) allowing them to appear more permanent than most of the Entertainment industry ones.
  • Relationship between customers (sports fans) and brands are sometimes almost “religious”, which has the advantage for securing sales.  However, this also compels the clubs to strictly respect traditions and quality standards.

As opposed to North America, where the sports leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, etc) own the license properties of the clubs, the market of sport licensing in Europe is more complex as you have to negotiate with each club to use the license of a team.

One of the key lessons we are taking from this seminar Fragmentation outside USA allows for much lower Barriers to Entry..