Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Why LBE is the consumer experience of the future

InPark Magazine interview with Anna Knight, SVP of the Global Licensing Group, Licensing Expo

Over the past two years, nearly everything has transitioned to virtual in some capacity. Whether that’s conducting meetings through online platforms, using grocery delivery apps, or participating in the evolving world of the Metaverse, consumers across the globe are thirsty for something more tangible as the world returns to “normal.”

Realizing the immense opportunity that lies in experiential marketing, brands across product categories are exploring location-based experiences (LBE) as a means to change and enhance how people engage with the products, stories, and characters they consume on a daily basis. While LBE isn’t a novel idea and has been gaining traction for years, experiential rollouts and IP-based brand extension strategies are taking the commercial and licensing world by storm. They are the next frontier for consumers looking to engage, interact and show their love for the brands they love. Consumers are craving in-person and authentic experiences, which is evident by the way globally recognized brands such as Hasbro and Crayola are approaching current and future consumerism through LBE, both of which are exhibiting at Licensing Expo this May and bringing exciting LBE activations.

InPark Magazine has closely been following the LBE boom and how related industry trends are shaping how IP-based experiences that bring consumers’ favorite characters and brands to life and society’s transition from a “material” to an “experience-based” economy.

This year, Licensing Expo is diving deep into the LBE world as dozens of companies will be participating to display, learn, and grow through LBE. Taking place May 24-26 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Licensing Expo provides retailers, licensees, and manufacturers the best opportunity to secure the rights to thousands of consumer brands, entertainment icons, and more for your products or stores. Click here to register for free.

InPark Magazine recently had the pleasure of speaking with Anna Knight, SVP of the Global Licensing Group, who broke down what LBE means, not just for the future of consumerism, but how there are many untapped avenues that are itching to be explored.

Why did you choose LBE as this year’s theme?

Anna: We see more and more brands invest in pop-up experiences and long-standing IP-based experiences as they look for meaningful ways to connect with their audience and bring new fans into their fold. LBEs have become more mainstream over the years, with tentpole examples such as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios paving the way to Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty launching a pop-up shop in SoHo, where attendees can become part of the brand experience. Not only do we want to explore how organizations can optimize LBE not just for their consumers but use it as a strategic tool in their marketing arsenal. LBE is leveraged to go viral, reach new consumers, re-position a brand, and much more.

We asked ourselves, “how can we engage with our attendee and exhibitor audiences on a deeper and more widescale level and showcase emergent trends shaping the industry?” LBE fits the bill perfectly as one of the hottest trends that brands, no matter the category, are looking to explore at this year’s Licensing Expo.

Are there any activations on-site that portray the power of LBE?
Image courtesy of Licensing Expo.

Anna: Absolutely. Most booths will have some sort of interactive experience that will allow attendees to fully understand the power LBE has on participants and really feel what it is all about. Brands such as Falcon’s Beyond will have tangible experiences through its X-Lab, which will offer a 20-minute demonstration of a handful of Falcon’s ground-breaking products by appointment. Those interested can see themed attraction systems that use real-time gaming technologies through the Metaverse. The Hasbro’s Experience booth will have Transformers: VR Battle Arena with Meta4 Interactive, which allows participants to play as a TRANSFORMERS robot in virtual reality. Experiences like this will drive home how LBE is becoming an integral part of how consumers enjoy their products. Those two examples are just the tip of the iceberg. A few other exciting IP-based activations attendees can look forward to include:

  • Sports Bar: Major League Baseball Players, Inc., NFL Players Inc., NASCAR, WWE, and Motul
  • Toy Café: Hasbro, Inc., Mattel, Inc., MGA Entertainment, Spin Master, WildBrain CPLG, Jazwares, Brand Activation Consulting & Build-A-Bear Workshop.
  • Art & Design Lounge: Art Brand Studios, Giordano Studios, Jewel Branding & Licensing, Inc., Mitchell Black Wallpaper, Tate & Co Licensing and Artestar
What type of LBE education will be available for interested attendees?

Anna: There will be dozens of keynote speakers, panels, and demonstrations throughout the three-day event, both on the show floor and as a part of Licensing U. Notably, Falcon’s Beyond, Robert L. Ward, Moonbug, NBA and Bay Laurel Advisors are confirmed to discuss LBE as the latest brand extension trend in a keynote panel taking place on Wednesday, May 25 in the Licensing U Theater from 12:00-12:45 p.m.

Not only will attendees be able to listen to the importance of LBE and how those interactions will be integrated throughout the consumer experiences, but, as we discussed previously, there will be interactive activations right on the floor that serve as education in a different sense. For many booths, attendees can go right up and either sign up for a personal appointment or can see the action unfold right in front of them. Aside from Hasbro and Falcon’s Beyond, other big-name brands showcasing their foray into LBE like NAFTOS, LAI Games, SEGA, Cronus Global, and BuzzFeed, Inc. will be on hand with their own personalized offerings. Overall, more than 200 exhibitors will be displaying their licensable IP, all ripe for LBE.

How can our readers get involved with Licensing Expo?

Anna: By simply showing up! With our 200-plus brands on the floor at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center that span nearly every major product category, attendees can go from booth to booth and see how each brand is harnessing the power of brand extension strategies in creative ways that depict who their brand is. It’s free to register for the event; once you’re there, brands will have executive-level speakers and presentations to spotlight their IP and paint a picture of how they are tapping into all the potential LBE brings. The Mandalay Bay Convention Center will be filled to the brim with interactive experiences for every type of consumer. Register here today – we hope to see you on site!

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She reports on design and technical design, production and project management, industry trends and company culture. From 2005-2020 she ran communications and publications for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA and publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association, and has contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a BFA from Pratt Institute. She has lived in Detroit, New York, Oakland, and now Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts community.

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