Consumers once were largely unaware of brands and their strength as pillars of self identify, but today they consciously want branded products that make them feel good about their purchases for that reason. That affinity is responsible for billions of dollars in sales every year through licensing and brand extension, a panel of licensing experts said. Consumers buy licensed products to replicate a style or brand essence they admire, to role play that they are a character with props, to take something home from a special event (souvenirs), to relive special memories either individually or to share with their children, to show their “fanship,” and to express a personality says Jessica Blue, vice president of the annual Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. Lia Buffa, vice president for new business at Food Network, notes that the explosion in consumer interest in food, especially making it, has given the network universal recognition that has resulted in a myriad of licensing deals that include books, magazines, wine and candles, plus an in-store presence with Kohl’s on many housewares. The meticulous licensing process, however, requires high standards, consuming detective work, diligent brand protection and complete dedication to the network’s advertising business. That does not make Food Network an easy partner but a passionate one that pays dividends to those carefully chosen and relevant few.