The world’s second-largest and Asia’s largest event of its kind, the Hong Kong International Licensing Show (9-11 January) and Asian Licensing Conference (9-10 January) will kick off next week to showcase licensing opportunities in Asia. Both events are organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).
Digital age and Belt and Road Initiative create new licensing opportunities
The licensing industry has seen robust growth and diversification in recent years, uncovering boundless business opportunities for different industries.
Citing a report by the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA), Raymond Yip, Deputy Executive Director, HKTDC, said global retail sales of licensed goods totalled US$251.7 billion in 2015, up 4.2 per cent year-on-year. Of these, US$27.4 billion, or 10.89 per cent, came from Asia, an increase of 7.45 per cent over the previous year. The Chinese mainland is Asia’s second-largest licensing market, recording US$7.22 billion in sales of licensing products in 2015, a significant increase of 23.8 per cent from US$5.83 billion in 2014. The surge was more than five times as much as the global growth of 4.2 per cent, reflecting the vibrancy of Asia’s licensing market.
In today’s digital age, the rise of the Internet, smart phones and new media, as well as the proliferation of digital entertainment and gaming brands have accelerated the development of the licensing industry. Asia is particularly receptive to technological innovation. In 2015, the region’s smart phone users accounted for half of the world’s total; its mobile network coverage reached 45 per cent and its retail e-commerce market was the world’s largest. On the Chinese mainland, the number of Internet users has reached 710 million, over 90 per cent of whom are smart phone users, making the mainland the world’s largest Internet and mobile gaming market. With China’s 13th Five-Year Plan placing great emphasis on the development of technology and innovation, the growth of Asia’s licensing market is expected to accelerate in the digital era.
“Hong Kong is internationally known for its sound intellectual property protection, independent judiciary and its deep pool of global IP professionals. These factors make Hong Kong not only Asia’s licensing hub, but also an excellent strategic base for companies and brands to promote their licensing business,” said Mr Yip. “In fact, our professionals are engaged in a broad range of fields. Our brand agents, for example, are familiar with the Asian market and have a global vision. They can provide efficient intermediary services. With the support of these brand agents, the development of the licensing industry in Hong Kong and the region are set to become ever more vibrant.”
Mr Yip added that the China-led Belt and Road Initiative is expected to inject new impetus into the global economy. Among the 60-plus countries and regions along the Belt and Road, Asian countries including Thailand, Malaysia, India and Singapore are fast-developing licensing markets, with average annual growth of more than 20 per cent in 2015, despite each still accounting for less than 0.5 per cent of the total global sales of licensing products. As a “super-connector” for the Belt and Road Initiative, Hong Kong can assist related countries and regions to advance their licensing industries, Mr Yip said.
World-renowned brands; record exhibitors
The 15th Hong Kong International Licensing Show will welcome a record of more than 370 exhibitors from 12 countries and regions.
More than 900 brands and properties from various sectors will be on display, including characters, animation, edutainment, art and culture, fashion and lifestyle and food and beverage. Many of 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, will be exhibiting with the aim of tapping into Asia’s opportunities.
Showcasing Hong Kong’s creative force
A highlight of the fair will be Hong Kong Creative Force, which will gather a broad selection of local brands and properties. Among them, toy original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Asia Animation Ltd will feature properties related to its animation character, Ori Princess. Also, an “OMQ Dining Room” will be set up on-site to offer an all-round branded food and beverage licensing experience centred around the legendary local comic character, Old Master Q. In addition, first-time exhibitors Aaron Shum Jewelry Ltd and Rightman Publishing Ltd will promote the licenses of the jewellery brand Coronet and the characters of English reader comic series The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes respectively.
To promote home-grown creativity, the Hong Kong Creative Gallery will return to spotlight more than 70 outstanding properties and original characters created by young Hong Kong designers and illustrators. Properties and characters such as Tar Tar, Dream Girl and Boy, Flying Sofye and Pandahaluha will be displayed, helping to turn their creative ideas into business opportunities.
Organised by the Asian Licensing Association, the second Hong Kong Licensing Awards will be held to recognise Hong Kong’s outstanding original licensing brands and characters. Winning properties of the awards will be featured at the show.
Asian governments demonstrate their support
This year’s Licensing Show will feature six pavilions from the Chinese mainland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan, where exhibitors will showcase their indigenous brands. With strong government-level support, the size of these pavilions will be expanded this year.
Organised by China’s Ministry of Culture, the Chinese mainland pavilion will feature more than 80 companies, including those from Beijing, Guangdong and Sichuan, as well as eight Shaanxi companies that will make their pavilion debut. Showcasing cultural, art and animation brands will be The Palace Museum, 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 such as Beijing’s iQiYi, Beijing Dream Castle Culture Co Ltd and Guangzhou’s HccartoonAnimationTechnology (GZ) Co Ltd, which are active on the mainland’s online video channels, will also join the pavilion and enrich the Licensing Show’s offerings.
On-site interactive games and activities to boost business opportunities
To cater to the fast growing market of online games, the new Game Base zone, will provide some of the latest games for visitors to try and explore the opportunities in game licensing.
With the growing popularity of social media, the Characters’ Photo Lane will be set up on-site for visitors to take photos with the licensing characters on display and share the photos on Instagram with friends. They can also print out the photos on-site as mementos.
As small-order sourcing and personalised licensed merchandise become ever more popular, this year’s show will include a Print your brands on-demand booth. The booth will provide digital printing services for exhibitors and their potential business partners to experience and test the effect of printing their brands on different merchandise. The service is expected to open doors to even more licensing opportunities.
Dedicated areas to foster food and beverage licensing
In recent years, many restaurants and food and beverage products have adopted themes based on licensed brands. This development shows the potential of food and beverage licensing. This year, the HKTDC will add three lounges to provide an all-round food and beverage licensing experience for visitors. The Van Gogh Senses, OMQ Dining Room and Ori-Princess Cafe will showcase their licensed characters and products while providing speciality menus.
More than 600 business matching sessions to foster collaboration
The HKTDC will partner with nine industry associations to help their members, particularly manufacturers and retailers, leverage value-adding licensing services to expand their markets. Business matching sessions and guided tours will be provided to the associations’ members. More than 600 one-on-one business matching meetings are expected to be arranged.
The nine industry associations are: The Toys Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association, Hong Kong Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Hong Kong Exporters’ Association, Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association, Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades & Industries, Graphic Arts Association of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Association of Interactive Marketing and the Cosmetic & Perfumery Association of Hong Kong.
Conference call for licensing professionals
The Asian Licensing Conference (9-10 January) will take place in parallel with the Licensing Show. Twenty-seven leading global licensing experts have been invited to share their insights and ideas during the conference.
With technology and innovation fast-evolving, the Internet, smart phones and new media have become an integral part of daily life, fostering the rise of digital entertainment and gaming brands. The two plenary sessions of the conference will focus on the licensing industry’s prospects in the digital age.
The first session will feature senior executives from 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 will share their winning licensing strategies in extending their virtual success to the physical marketplace.
The second plenary session will bring 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 will discuss ways to use innovative technology to transform licensing strategies and operations to expand customer base, increase market share and enhance competitiveness.
There will be two afternoon breakout sessions on the first day. Breakout Session (I) Branded Experience, Branded Lifestyle will feature renowned brand licensing experts talking about their experience and successful formulas related to lifestyle branding. Speakers include executives from Meredith Corp, Moleskine, 20th Century Fox and Iconix.
At Breakout Session (II) Keys to Unlock the “Belt and Road” Licensing Opportunities, global brand experts will reveal their brand licensing adaptations for winning over consumers from different cultures in markets covered by the Belt and Road Initiative. Speakers include 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.
Movies, games and e-commerce drive China’s licensing market
On the second day, 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.
There are also two workshops to discuss Operational Essentials for Licensing and IP and Legal Fundamentals for Licensing, examining such key legal issues as exclusivity, territorial restrictions, royalty calculations, contractual period, renewal options and quality control.