Hong Kong International Licensing Show: a new record of over 20,000 visitors attended the event

The 14th Hong Kong International Licensing Show concluded with a record number of visitors attending the three-day event (11-13 January). Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the Licensing Show gathered more than 20,800 industry professionals from over 100 countries and regions, up 5.6 per cent compared to the previous year. The fifth Asian Licensing Conference (11-12 January), held in parallel with the Licensing Show, ended on 12 January. More than 30 leading licensing experts from around the world spoke at the conference which attracted over 1,400 industry players to attend.

During the Licensing Show, HKTDC Acting Executive Director Raymond Yip highlighted the abundant licensing opportunities in Asia. The expanding Asian markets, especially the Chinese mainland, combined with growing regional sales of licensed merchandise are bringing immense opportunities to the global licensing industry, including licensors, licensing agents, licensees from different sectors, marketing and advertising agents, brand promoters, legal advisors and designers. “Hong Kong possesses many distinct advantages, including its proximity to the Chinese mainland, its robust protection of intellectual property and a deep pool of licensing professionals,” said Mr Yip. “Not only can Hong Kong help international brands enter markets in the Chinese mainland and Asia, it is also the best gateway for mainland enterprises to promote their brands to the world. The Hong Kong International Licensing Show is the ideal platform for companies from Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland and the world to come together and explore opportunities in licensing.”

Hong Kong: a two-way licensing platform
The implementation of China’s “Two-child policy” is creating opportunities for children’s products on the mainland. Licensing professionals worldwide are seeking to take advantage of this to enter the mainland market. Exhibiting at the show for the first time, Paul Field, Managing Director of Australian children’s entertainment brand The Wiggles, said the brand owns a large variety of audio-visual programmes, which are distributed in more than 100 countries. The company hopes to leverage the Hong Kong platform to enter the mainland, and attended the show to find mainland media and broadcast channels and explore mainland market opportunities for pre-school edutainment and licensed products.

China’s Ministry of Culture returned to the show, leading a larger delegation this year. Together with the regional participation of Guangdong, Zhejiang and Sichuan, it formed the largest Chinese Mainland Pavilion in the Licensing Show’s history with 90 mainland exhibitors taking part. They promoted mainland art, cultural, animation and other original brands to international markets through licensing.

Speaking at the Asian Licensing Conference, Yang Xiaobo, Sales Management Department Director of the Palace Museum in Beijing, said the museum owns more than 8,700 types of creative and cultural products, with brand names “Forbidden City” and “Imperial Palace” being close to securing international trademark registration. Ms Yang said their participation in the Licensing Show would help to achieve the goal of establishing an overseas sales network and forging co-operation with global brands.

Lifestyle and fashion licensing in vogue
Asia’s growing middle class is more willing than ever to spend on well-known brands and high quality services that reflect their individual tastes, thereby boosting demand for licensed merchandise. Among international licensed properties, lifestyle and fashion products have achieved the highest sales, reaching US$57.3 billion in 2014. The Licensing Show’s Lifestyle & Fashion category was set up to showcase both classic and trendy brands, including those of Hearst Magazines, publisher of Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire magazines. Adam Cooper, Hearst’s Publisher and International Licensing Director, said the group, which will soon open brand name cafés in the United Arab Emirates, will achieve even bigger success with its lifestyle licensing business in Asia through the Hong Kong platform.

Hearst Magazines participated in the Licensing Show for the first time this year, alongside its agent IMG, which is the world’s largest international licensing agency. During the show, Hearst Magazines held talks with buyers from Hong Kong, the mainland and Indonesia on potential deals for licensed fashion, beauty and food products.

Licensing Show promotes original brands
More and more companies are launching products or organising events featuring original characters. I&M International Ltd. exhibited at the Hong Kong Creative Gallery for the first time. The company showcased Dr Jim Jim, an original children’s brand created based on the image of multimedia performance artist Jim Chim, to highlight Hong Kong’s creative spirit. I&M’s General Manager, Mabel Chan, said: “Jim Chim’s popularity is helpful in turning his image into character brands, but what’s more important is whether the characters are cute and interesting. Through the business matching sessions organised by the HKTDC, we have successfully found potential clients for Dr Jim Jim, one of whom, an electronics and stationery manufacturer, expressed interest in producing voice recorders using the image of Dr Jim Jim as a magician.  We are scheduling a visit to its factory in Shenzhen for further business negotiations.”

Diversification of Asian markets
With the proliferation of licensing business in Asia, sales of licensed merchandise in the region reached US$19.4 billion in 2014, representing 12.2 per cent of the worldwide total. Asia is not just a large market for licensed products, it is also a cradle for creative talents and indigenous brands.

Being the largest licensing market in Asia, Japan’s licensing business has evolved into a mature industry, extending beyond licensing animation and cartoon characters, to include new sectors such as promoting tourism, agriculture and other industries. Kumamon, the mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, is one of the success stories. Sales of Kumamon products alone reached US$1 billion in 2014.

Meanwhile, the Chinese mainland has emerged as one of the fastest-growing markets for licensed products in the world. In 2014, sales of licensed products on the mainland reached US$5.94 billion, up eight per cent compared to 2013.  The Alibaba Group has recently established a business unit, which aims to build a global platform for intellectual property (IP) derivatives.  Bill Ying, General Manager of the business unit said, “We are very grateful to the HKTDC for organising many quality business matching meetings to connect us to the global brands. We have agreed on plans for further strategic cooperation with them. The licensing industry in China is still in its infancy, which is why Alibaba wants to understand the development of the whole industry through the Hong Kong International Licensing Show.”

International show well received by visitors
The HKTDC arranged for 63 mainland and overseas delegations and more than 1,000 trade representatives from over 20 countries and regions to attend the show. More than 600 business matching sessions were held, of which 80 were organised in partnership with nine industry associations to promote cross-industry collaboration and explore licensing opportunities. These associations included the Federation of Hong Kong Brands, The Hong Kong Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, Hong Kong Apparel Society, The Hong Kong Exporters’ Association, The Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association, Hong Kong Toys Council, The Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades & Industries, The Hong Kong Retail Management Association and Hong Kong Publishing Federation. During these sessions OEM manufacturers, exporters and retailers from different industries were invited to explore new markets and opportunities to upgrade and transform to become more competitive.

The 14th edition of the Hong Kong International Licensing Show featured more than 340 exhibitors from 15 countries and regions, showcasing more than 860 brands and properties across such categories as cartoon characters, animation, edutainment, art and design, fashion and lifestyle and food and beverage. Eight International pavilions were set up, including Australia, the Chinese mainland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom. Among the attendees were the world’s leading licensors and licensing agents, including BBC Worldwide, Chelsea Football Club, Hasbro, Hearst Magazines International, Sanrio, The Palace Museum, The Wiggles, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Ali-the-Fox.
La 14ma edizione dell’Hong Kong International Licensing Show ha accolto più di 340 espositori provenienti da 15 paesi con oltre 860 brand e character appartenenti a varie categorie, come, ad esempio, Cartoon and Animation, Edutainment, Art and Design, Fashion and Lifestyle e Food and Beverage. Sono stati creati otto padiglioni internazionali comprendenti  Australia, Cina, Giappone, Corea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Tailandia e UK. Tra i partecipanti, i licenzianti e gli agenti di licensing leader nel settore, tra cui  BBC Worldwide, Chelsea Football Club, Hasbro, Hearst Magazines International, Sanrio, The Palace Museum, The Wiggles, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Ali-the-Fox.

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