Licensing is an intriguing industry. Everywhere you look there are successful examples of its work, yet how much do those outside of it really know of its inner workings?

Licensing is a multibillion-dollar retail market globally and when used effectively it is also an extremely cost-effective marketing tool. Today, major retailers have found products in a diverse range of categories can be quickly developed under licence.

The ‘brand’ has become more important than ever and sometimes may be the only key distinction in many product categories. Brands that have high consumer recognition and loyalty have been successfully extended into new product categories for many years through licensing.

And recent success stories have proved licensing is certainly not restricted to children’s brands. Lines of note include The Great British Bake Off - licenced products have included cake stands, tea towels and oven trays, as well as less obvious products such as diaries. So with mainstream licensing opportunities increasing by the day for retailers, how do we go about ensuring that licensing is given its proper billing with buyers?

It can be a confusing world for newbies. How do you know who the correct partner is? How do you know you’ve got the right deal for you? And how do you ensure that you continue to stay on top of the latest trends, for long term success?

It’s vital that buyers are educated properly on the complexities of licensing by industry professionals. Retailers such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Boots take part in Brand Licensing Europe’s Retail Mentoring Programme, which includes workshops and seminars that cover all these issues over a six-month period.

The hope is to give participating buyers more confidence in making buying decisions, allowing them to engage with key industry players. Buyers need to be able to make a call on the value of a brand to their product, before investing in a partnership.

The programme offers insight into the world of brands. For example, Warner Bros Consumer Products UK hosted a ‘shadow’ day for Tesco buyers as part of the 2012 programme, which helped forge a stronger relationship and augmented deals between the two companies, especially around the launch of ‘Man of Steel’ earlier this year.

“It’s vital buyers are educated on the complexities of licensing”

The programme also helps brand owners better understand how to drive sales and product exposure through multi-platform marketing campaigns.

As retailers look to embrace licensing by increasing the volume and also the mix of products they stock, understanding the industry at all levels is crucial to ensuring investment is given to the correct products at the correct time in the market.

So as we look forward to planning for 2014, the licensing sector is set to grow further, with plenty of opportunities for collaboration between licensees and retailers. With this growing profile, we’re doing all we can to ensure there is a greater understanding of how to succeed within the sector - the key is always education.

Darren Brechin is event director of Brand Licensing Europe, which runs from 15 to 17 October at Olympia, London