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LIMA: Giving retailers a chance to create differentiation for the consumer

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LIMA – the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association – is a leading trade organisation for the global licensing industry. LIMA’s mission is to foster the growth and expansion of licensing around the world, raise the level of professionalism for licensing practitioners, and create greater awareness of the benefits of licensing to the business community at large.

Founded in 1985, LIMA maintains offices in the United States (headquarters), Australia, Brazil (ABRAL) China, Germany, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom, with representatives in Canada, France, India, Italy, Korea, Russia and the Middle East. Members in over 40 countries enjoy access to an array of benefits, including extensive educational programming and worldwide networking events.

IMAGES Retail Bureau met Maura Regan, Executive Vice President, LIMA, on the sidelines of India Fashion Forum 2018. She said that the organisation was started 30 years ago with the goal to professionalise and elevate the industry of brand licensing around the world.

“LIMA is a trade association. We don’t individually license any characters or brands ourselves, but we collectively work with industry leaders who then go out and license their characters,” she explained.

The non-profit organisation has, worldwide, over 1,200 corporate members from 140 countries. “We have got boots on the ground in 14 countries with offices and local reps working on our behalf in these countries. And within these countries we have brands like Disney, Ralph Lauren, NBA, Viacom etc. which are associated with us,” Regan said.

Perks for Members

LIMA represents the interests of its membership worldwide by providing a forum for networking, serving as a source of education and information, establishing standards of ethical and professional conduct, and recognizing excellence and achievement in the industry.

“Today, the retail industry is being driven by data decision-making and data-planning and LIMA is committed to creating and commissioning research studies. We have a lot of research that we make available to our members, since we understand its important in business planning and strategy making and long-term goals,” said Regan by way of explaining why becoming a member of LIMA is very useful for retailers.

She also stated that LIMA gives its members networking opportunities and provides them with a platform where they can learn best practices from each other.

“We are also an educational forum where they can learn everything – from Licensing 101 to access to top of the top programs like India Fashion Forum 2018,” she added.

Regan also said that a world of opportunities exists in India around the business of brand licensing and that LIMA – working in partnership with Jiggy George, Founder Dream Theatre Pvt. Ltd, a pioneer in the Indian licensing and merchandising industry – has managed to engage a lot of industry leaders such as Disney, and Nickelodeon.

LIMA’s Goals

– Staging educational and social events that foster industry knowledge and exchange of business information and contacts;
– Serving as public advocates for the business of licensing globally through public speeches, authoring articles and a wide range of other public relations activities;
– Developing industry numbers and other support information;
– Creating and publicizing an industry code of conduct;
– Organizing and publicizing the LIMA Licensing Industry Excellence Awards, which annually recognize high achievement within the licensing community

Countering Piracy

One of the main issues, which LIMA – as the trade organisation for the global licensing industry – counters is piracy. In a country the size of India – where every Tier II, Tier III town could have copycat merchandise – countering piracy is one of the long-term challenges LIMA is faced with.

“It’s important we address this because it is something that affects business on every level. All our members take this issue very seriously,” said Regan.

“With technology at our disposal, the idea is to get ahead of piracy and provide members with information and education around best practices to combat piracy and counterfeiting. It is an ongoing challenge that we as a trade association remain absolutely committed to – to eradicating the entire lifecycle of piracy, from where it begins to where it ends up in stores, sometimes knowingly or unknowingly,” she added.

Business Model with a Difference

Licensing is about how you really connect with a consumer in a way that stands out and is meaningful. It affords manufacturers and factory owners the opportunity to really jumpstart their businesses, because it’s really a very low-risk entrée into creating differentiation for a consumer.

This business model can be very lucrative but since LIMA is a non-profit organisation, its revenue goals are very different.

“Everything that we raise, in terms of money, goes back into LIMA, into developing research and creating networking opportunities. It’s a very different business structure for us. We don’t drive revenue for revenue’s sake but drive revenue for putting it back into the organisation so as to create better experiences for our members and potential members,” Regan explained.

The Future in India

The organisation hasn’t signed on with any Indian retailers as members for now.

“Our plans for India is to bring together the retailer community. We are attending great forums like India Fashion Forum 2018 to assess the retailer community and understand their needs to best serve them and then bring prominent members onboard LIMA,” concluded Regan.

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