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According to the licensing international global licensing survey, global retail sales of licensed merchandise and services grew to $280.3 billion last year. In the last year, License Global said the business of licensing has shifted as rules of the paradigm have changed.

“The licensing industry has evolved tremendously since the first players formed the inaugural collaborations and partnerships that went on to pioneer the $271 billion dollar industry that licensing is today,” said Amanda Cioletti, content director at License Global. “For this year’s “The Influentials” report, we wanted to honor those that took the risks, made innovative choices and shifted the paradigm to ultimately lay the foundation for other companies to follow.”

The company separates brand extensions into two categories: historical and modern. Both categories, License Global said, include businesses and leaders that have contributed to change in the evolving landscape. Notably, Activision Blizzard is recognized in both categories.

Activision Blizzard, the American video game holding company, represents the large opportunity for e-sports in licensing. Global Licensing notes the company has reached millions of fans as they watch live competitions, tapping into enthusiasm for both endemic and non-endemic licensing categories. The company has created products ranging from trading cards to headwear through licensing deals and earlier this year created a partnership with Fanatics for an international, multichannel retail provider for its Overwatch League products.

Also honored in the modern category is Netflix who has licensed gear for its most popular original programming. Earlier this year, Netflix licensed its popular show “Stranger Things” for a diverse set of merchandise including a partnership with Nike, which used “Stranger Things” as inspiration for an Eighties-inspired capsule collection.

“At the end of the day, consumers will buy the products they like from the brands they trust,” Cioletti said. “Licensing provides opportunities for brands to reach a broader audience by leveraging the properties consumers already love.”

Also among those honored is Steven Ekstract, brand director of the Global Licensing Group, a unit of Informa, who License Global credits for predicted the future of the licensing industry. Ekstract reaches 150,000 business professionals through License Global.

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