As president of Licensing International Maura Regan has decades of experience in licensing, branding and location-based entertainment (LBE). We spoke to her about the connections between LBE and branding in advance of the Brand Licensing Europe show (October 4-6, 2023) in London. This year’s event will focus on the LBE market, making Maura’s perspective on the industry particularly timely.
You have an extensive career in licensing. IP had long been associated with leisure attractions, but why do you think it’s getting particular attention now?
Following several years of forced isolation, consumers are hungry for opportunities to connect. Location-based entertainment (LBE) offerings not only allow families and friends to gather together and make memories, but they also create opportunities for fans to connect with the brands they love in new and exciting ways. The appetite for LBE is only expected to grow moving forward.
In your experience as a brand rep/manager what is most important for IP holders to consider when engaging in an LBE project?
LBE projects present exciting opportunities around storytelling, allowing brands to take advantage of new formats and connect with new demographics. To do that effectively, it’s important for IP owners to choose partnerships that play to their brand’s strengths and support their long-term goals.
Licensing International’s recent benchmarking report still showed LBE to be only a small fraction of the licensing pie, but you’ve identified it as a strategic focus for the industry. Why is that?
While location-based events and themed attractions account for a relatively small fraction of overall global sales revenue by product category (2%), the LBE sector showed massive growth in 2022 compared to the previous year. Location-based entertainment and promotions increased 67.3% during that period, while licensed services (including restaurants, hotels, travel, and hospitality) increased 205.6%. We identified LBE as a strategic focus because we believe it will continue to grow and create new opportunities. In fact, recent data from Grand View Research shows the market is expected to increase 28.8% from 2023 to 2030.
You spent 18 years with Sesame Workshop, which was an early adopter for licensing in the LBE space. Tell us about your strategy for LBE while you were there and how you think it shaped that company.
Part of the magic of Sesame Street from the beginning is that it invites children to see themselves with their best friends on their favorite street. The strategy behind LBE (which was in place before I arrived) was to recreate that experience “off air” and in real life for children. The brilliance behind Sesame Street, which continues to this day, is to never forget who the show is for and why. Everything they do centers around making a difference in the lives of children everywhere. I would argue that Sesame Street shaped the LBE industry.
Do you think there are differences in how brands and LBE operators can successfully partner based on geography?
Regional differences allow for creating unique experiences. Outdoor water parks are a great example of how, given climate and geography, a brand can extend their LBE experience in another direction that is additive and doesn’t cannibalize existing park experiences for the brand. We see this as a trend that will continue because it allows brand owners and operators to reimagine the brand in new and exciting ways.