Hong Kong’s annual licensing show, conference and accompanying toy & games fair, the largest events of their kind in Asia, attract major media properties from around the world.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s Hong Kong International Licensing Show (HKILS) and the Asian Licensing Conference (ALC) are Asia’s largest such events, and the biggest gathering of licensors and licensees in the region each year.
Among the ALC speakers for January 2015 will be Discovery’s Nicolas Bonard, who represents the company that earlier this year bought All3Media, owners of South Pacific Pictures. SPP owns half of Austalia’s SLR Productions, no strangers to licensed product as makers of Guess How Much I Love You.
NZ entertainment brands which have already developed international licensing relationships include Pukeko Pictures’ The WotWots and longtime Kiwi childhood icon Buzzy Bee.Discovery’s Bonard has a history of working for broadcasters including MTV, and is presently responsible for the international programme sales and licensing arms of Discovery Communications – everything from completed programmes through music, footage, consumer products and home entertainment. He’ll present at ALC on successful brand strategies for expanding to non-core businesses in session The Branded Lifestyle.
Growing Asian economies, not least Mainland China, are making the region the world’s fastest-growing when it comes to branded and licensed product. This makes the region very attractive for international brands and offers up opportunities for content creators from markets where opportunities for growth are thin on the ground, such as in much of Europe, or for creators from domestic markets whose scale doesn’t easily support licensing and merchandising.
In 2013, the last full year for which figures are available, sales of licensed merchandise in Asia (excluding Japan), were US$8.7 billion, up almost 7% on the previous year. By comparison, the sales in the rest of the world grew less than 2% (albeit from a much larger base). Asia drives less than 6% of worldwide licensing but, with growth three times that of the rest of the world, offers opportunities not found elsewhere.
Licensing and merchandising opportunities around screen properties are as much a driver of that business as the luxury brands the have spent the last decade opening flagship in most major Asian metropolises.
The output of the major American studios, such as Warner Brothers, through the increasingly strong game development presence for studios including Rovio (Angry Birds) to the range of Asian animation studios, all deliver a strong contingent of knowledgeable potential licensors and licensees looking for opportunities around screen content.
Last year over 230 exhibitors presented over 700 brands and properties, drawing 18,000 buyers from over 100 countries and regions. Almost a quarter of the buyers were from mainland China.The accompanying Toys and Games Fair (Asia’s largest), Baby Products Fair and Stationery Fair, boasted almost 2,900 exhibitors and over 106,000 buyers for their January 2014 editions, giving plenty of opportunity for cross-sector collaborations. Organisers offer a business matching service for those not so keen on wading through 3000+ exhibitors.
The 2014 Asian Licensing Conference drew 1,200+ participants, most from Asia, and presented 30+ speakers from global brands. The 2015 edition has programmed sessions on the mainland China market, children’s merchandising, and retail licensing promotions in Asia.