Licensing is a powerful way to bring fresh, unique, and trendy designs to your garment-printing operation. Read on to learn more about this competitive and rewarding market and how it can help your business grow.
By Lori Leaman
Screen shops that excel in printing licensed properties are typically able to succeed in a broad range of markets. For example, Fortune Fashion Industries (FFI), Vernon, CA, a 16-year-old, 1800-employee operation, prints licensed properties for a variety of categories, including characters, television/film, private labels for retailers, brand-related properties for major corporations, and brands that the company has created specifically for retailers. Figure 1 shows a sampling of FFI's printed T-shirts. The company prints apparel for General Motors, US Army, American Airlines, Airstream Trailers, Chevron and Texaco, and Hasbro, among others.
Ric Munoz, vice president of licensing and corporate brand development for FFI, says companies such as General Motors that have been in the marketplace for 100 years have more staying power in the marketplace because of the strength and longevity of their brands.
Securing success in licensed properties
The sports category is dominated by the major leagues, including the NFL, NBA, and MLB, as well as NASCAR. Riotto says these entities account for about 80% of the sports business in the US. While the big four take the lion's share of the sports market, several niche licensed properties have entered the playing field, including collegiate licensing programs. Big players here include Notre Dame, The University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina, the University of Alabama, and other big NCAA names. The Professional Bull Riders Association, the World Poker Tour, and various soccer teams also fill the sports niche market.
Figures show that the sports licensing category has grown every year since 2002, and Riotto attributes the growth to more creativity in logo treatments, expanded marketing programs, and the extension of apparel to women and children. Scott Warfield, manager of public relations for NASCAR's division in Charlotte, NC, where all licensing processes are handled, says that NASCAR has experienced significant growth in apparel, namely in the ladies category (Figure 2). In fact, 40% of NASCAR's fan base is female. "We've seen a lot of licensees want to create products geared for the female fan base, in the colors they like, and the styles and sizes they prefer," Warfield says. Other hot categories for NASCAR include die-cast products, food (NASCAR BBQ sauce, fruits, vegetables, and frozen meats), and youth (NASCAR-branded rocking chairs, sippee cups, pacifiers, and coloring books).
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