Hong Kong is Asia’s foremost licensing hub, and the Hong Kong International Licensing Show, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), has become an important platform for global licensors and brands to explore and capture new business opportunities. The 15th Hong Kong International Licensing Show, the world’s second-largest and Asia’s largest event of its kind, kicked off its three-day run (9 to 11 January) at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre today.
“The Asian licensing industry has been thriving in recent years. With the proliferation of digital technologies, the Internet, smart phones and social media have become an integral part of everyday life. Riding on this development, many personalities, characters and brands have become runaway sensations, creating boundless licensing opportunities,” said HKTDC Acting Executive Director Benjamin Chau. In 2015, Asia’s retail sales of licensed goods amounted to US$27.4 billion, representing approximately 10.89 per cent of the global total. In the Chinese mainland, sales of licensing products even reached US$7.22 billion in 2015, a significant increase of 23.8 per cent from 2014.
Mr Chau added that Hong Kong’s proximity to the Chinese mainland, robust legal system, sound intellectual property protection, far-reaching business connections and deep pool of global IP professionals make Hong Kong an ideal strategic base for international brands and top licensors to capture Asian as well as global licensing opportunities.
World’s top brands leverage Licensing Show for Asian expansion
This year’s Hong Kong International Licensing Show features a record of more than 370 exhibitors from 12 countries and regions. More than 900 brands and properties are on display. The world’s top licensors and brands, including Caterpillar, Warner Bros, Sanrio, MTV, Nickelodeon, Rainbow, Rovio, Smiley, 20th Century Fox, and leading global licensing agents such as IMG, LMCA and Global Icons, are exhibiting, with the aim of expanding their Asian business.
Cartoons and movie characters are properties that people mostly associate with licensing. In 2015, entertainment/characters remained the fastest growing licensing property category in terms of global licensed merchandise sales, grossing more than US$113.2 billion, or 44.8 per cent of all categories. Hence, licensing properties are rapidly diversifying. To address the trend, this year’s Licensing Show features licensing opportunities in such categories as lifestyle and fashion, edutainment, art and culture, animation and food and beverage.
Larger Asian Pavilions
Six group pavilions from the Chinese mainland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan have joined this year’s show. Thanks to strong government-level support, the scale of these pavilions has also been expanded.
Participation from the mainland has set a record this year, with more than 111 companies coming to the fair. China’s Ministry of Culture is once again organising the Chinese mainland pavilion, featuring more than 80 companies including those from Beijing, Guangdong and Sichuan, as well as eight Shaanxi companies that are making their pavilion debut.
Organisations showcasing cultural, art and animation brands include The Museum of the Former Residence of Dr Sun Yat-Sen, Dunhuang Academy, Chengdu Museum, Jiuzhaigou Xiangba Culture and Arts, and Shaanxi Huo Feng Huang Yi Shu Tao Ci (Fire Phoenix) as well as other ethnic art and cultural enterprises. Animation companies that are active on the mainland’s online video channels, such as Beijing’s iQiYi, Beijing Dream Castle Culture Co Ltd and Guangzhou’s HccartoonAnimationTechnology (GZ) Co Ltd, are also present. In addition, Shanghai and Fujian province have set up regional pavilions to showcase their indigenous brands.
The licensing industry is an integral part of IP trading. At the opening ceremony of the Chinese mainland pavilion this afternoon, Li Jiangang, Deputy Director-General, Department of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Affairs, Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, and Raymond Yip, Deputy Executive Director, HKTDC, witnessed the contract signing between the China Art and Culture IP Trading Platform and 10 mainland museums, in which the museums will join the platform. The collaboration is set to advance regional IP trading. An art and culture roundtable was also held at the Chinese mainland pavilion to discuss and explore the industry’s latest business opportunities.
Turning Hong Kong’s creative force into business opportunities
To showcase Hong Kong’s boundless creativity, the Licensing Show has gathered a broad selection of local brands and properties. These include the characters from Hong Kong’s original animations, AI Football GGO and Ori Princess, which are enjoying immense popularity on the mainland; the comic series The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes; Dustykid, which has tens of thousands of followers on the social media; and Tiny Dots Comics, which celebrates Hong Kong’s dim sum culture.
The Hong Kong Creative Gallery has returned to promote local creativity, showcasing more than 70 extraordinary properties and original characters created by young Hong Kong designers and illustrators. Properties and characters on display include X Touchy x Feely X, Plastic Thing and Squly & Friends. The zone is set to help global buyers uncover business opportunities in Hong Kong creativity.
Asian Licensing Conference spotlights prospects in the digital age
The Asian Licensing Conference held today and tomorrow (9 to 10 January), gathers 27 global licensing experts to share industry insights.
The two plenary sessions held this morning focused on the licensing industry’s prospects in the digital age. The first session featured senior executives from the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA), YouTube, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc (represented brands: Pac-Man, Taiko no Tatsujin, Dragon Ball, Street Fighter) and Rovio Entertainment Ltd (represented brand: Angry Birds), who shared their winning licensing strategies in extending their virtual success to the physical marketplace.
Speaking at the session, Charles Riotto, President, LIMA, said according to the LIMA Annual Global Licensing Industry Survey 2016 Report, there is an increased focus on licensing digital properties and the personalities emerging from apps and other platforms. He added that companies are eager to find brands that target the millennial market.
Makoto Asanuma, Managing Director, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc added that along with video game releases, various media activities such as a TV anime and movies help accelerate licensing business of PAC-MAN. The property has explored various categories, including digital and non-digital, which resulted in expansion of the brand.
The second plenary session brought together representatives from Viacom International Media Networks (represented brands: MTV, Nickelodeon), Discovery Global Enterprises and Beanstalk (the world’s third-largest licensing agent in 2016). The speakers discussed ways to use innovative technology to transform licensing strategies and operations to expand customer base, increase market share and enhance competitiveness.
Brand strategies and Belt and Road opportunities explored
This afternoon, the HKTDC organised two breakout sessions. Breakout Session (I) Branded Experience, Branded Lifestyle featured renowned brand licensing experts sharing their experience and successful formulas related to lifestyle branding. Speakers included executives from Meredith Corp, Moleskine, 20th Century Fox and Iconix.
Breakout Session (II) Keys to Unlock the “Belt and Road” licensing opportunities featured global brand experts revealing their brand licensing adaptations for winning over consumers from different cultures in markets covered by the Belt and Road Initiative. Speakers included executives from Thailand’s Pacific Licensing Studio Pte Ltd (represented brands: Warner Bros, Cartoon Network and DreamWorks Animation), Indonesia’s MNC Media (represented brands: SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Avatar, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Russia’s Animaccord Animation Studio (represented brands: Masha and The Bear) and representatives from the Belt and Road Committee of the Hong Kong Lawyers Association.
New licensing opportunities in the mainland’s new services sectors
Tomorrow morning, the conference will feature a China Thematic Session. Senior executives from Oriental DreamWorks, Mtime, Huayi Brothers Brand Management Limited and Fifth Journey will discuss licensing opportunities brought about by the mainland’s new services sectors including entertainment, film, games and e-commerce.
The HKTDC is organising two workshops to discuss Operational Essentials for Licensing and IP and Legal Fundamentals for Licensing, looking into such key legal issues as exclusivity, territorial restrictions, royalty calculations, contractual period, renewal options and quality control.
In addition to the Licensing Show and Licensing Conference, three other trade fairs are held concurrently this week, including the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, Hong Kong Baby Products Fair and Hong Kong International Stationery Fair. The parallel fairs generate synergy and attract more industry professionals and buyers to the venues.