This year marks the first time that the Worldwide Licensing Exposition (March 17 to 19) will be held in Germany. While the significance of the merchandising and licensing industry in Germany has increased tremendously over the last few years, it still has a long way to go.
Today, German consumers accept licensed products to a far greater extent than they did a few years ago. Disney stores have helped raise the overall profile of licensed goods and sports merchandising is continuing to expand. The popular soccer club Bayern MŸnchen had sales of DM32 million (US$18 million) in 1996, but considering that it is one of the most popular clubs in Germany’s most popular sport, the numbers are not very stong. Another sport facing an uphill climb is wrestling. In Germany, wrestling is considered violent and harmful to children. EM has undertaken the challenge of repositioning the World Wrestling Federation in the German market as fun entertainment.
A prime example of how slow Germany has been to catch on to licensing is Oktoberfest. Every year, more than six million visitors descend on Munich in the span of two weeks for the beer fest. And while it has been in existence for more than 180 years, and is known around the world, and is completely synonymous with German culture, on-site merchandising has been available only for the last three years.
The Worldwide Licensing Exposition is an ideal platform for licensors, licensees and agencies to exchange information and learn from each other. Despite the ongoing trend in globalization, licensors have to incorporate local market particularities in their strategies. An ongoing dialogue with German industry specialists, retailers and agencies will broaden the horizons of all parties involved.
Florian Haffa is a member of the board of EM.TV & Merchandising AG (formerly EM-Entertainment), a Munich-based diversified communications company.