Review of Hong Kong International Licensing Show 2011-2012, China

The Hong Kong International Licensing Show and the Asian Licensing Conference, as Asia’s biggest flagship licensing events, showcasing licensed products and services, sharing licensing success stories and bringing participants up to date on the latest market trends, is an important platforms for global licensors and brands to explore new business opportunities.

As Asia’s premier licensing event helps licensors and agents find partners and expand their regional networks in Asia, particularly the Chinese mainland. The event featured some 600 brands and properties, ranging from characters and entertainment to art, sports, fashion, collegiate and celebrity items, as well as corporate brands.

The fairs shared strategies and help extending branding from daily products into intangible services to help create unique brand experiences. Foreign buyers see Hong Kong as a trustworthy platform to help them connect with mainland start-ups and companies. As an increasing number of businesses explore licensing as a way to move up the value chain, Hong Kong will have a key role to play in facilitating the growth of the industry.

Hong Kong International Licensing Show 2012
The 10th Hong Kong International Licensing Show take place at Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) from 7-9 January 2013. More than 500 brands and properties, participated in the 2013 edition of the show. The Licensing Show draw more than 15,000 global buyers representing a wide spectrum of industries, from jewellery, fashion and toys, to sports and entertainment.

The show will feature more than 500 properties, ranging from animation and film to fine art and fashion brands. Debuting at the show will be animated icons from video game “Angry Birds,” as well as the Chinese mainland’s “Shan Mao” and South Korea’s “Pororo the Little Penguin.” The show will include German and Vietnamese companies for the first time, while the mainland, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the United Kingdom will organise pavilions.

This year’s show follows the enthusiastic response to the inaugural Business of IP Asia Forum (BIP Asia), held last month in Hong Kong. At the forum, some 700 IP professionals and business leaders from all over the world gathered to discuss the latest regional developments and opportunities in intellectual property.

With its trusted intellectual property protection regimen, free flow of information, abundance of services professionals and deep connections with the mainland, Hong Kong has become an important base for licensing companies. Local agents acquire brands and licensed properties from across the world, international IP owners use Hong Kong to tap the mainland market, and mainland enterprises buy globally through Hong Kong.

To showcase Hong Kong’s boundless creativity, the Licensing Show has gathered a broad selection of local brands and properties. The Hong Kong Creative Gallery has returned to promote local creativity, showcasing extraordinary properties and original characters created by young Hong Kong designers and illustrators.

The three-day Asian Licensing Conference launch a new plenary session – “Licensing and the Flourishing Region: Asia.” Prominent speakers will include representatives from Sanrio Co Ltd, Disney Consumer Products (Greater China) and Sony Pictures Consumer Products.

Another fair highlight will be the eighth Premier Asian Licensing Awards Presentation Ceremony. Recognising the achievements of Asian brands and licensed properties, this year’s Licensing Awards attracted a record 263 nominations from 11 countries and regions.

Hong Kong International Licensing Show 2011
The 9th edition of the HKTDC Hong Kong International Licensing Show, last from January 10 to 12, attracted more than 15,000 visitors. Losts of buyers are from emerging markets such as Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Chinese mainland and Southeast Asia, indicates an increasing recognition of the licensing business worldwide. The show held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, showcased more than 500 properties from 140 companies. Buyers and sellers explored business and struck deals during the event.

The 9th Hong Kong International Licensing Show is showcasing more than 500 licensing properties, spanning cartoon animation, movies, arts, fashion, sports and top universities. New exhibitors include the English Premier League Liverpool Football Club. In addition, Hong Kong brands such as G.O.D. (Goods of Desire), Fatina Dreams and the animated feature Little Gobie are represented.

The Lifestyle Pavilion and Hong Kong Character Hall feature thematic properties. Chinese mainland, South Korea, Thailand and the UK are showcasing products in group pavilions, while top international speakers spotlight developments in brand, sports and toy licensing in Asia at the show’s Hong Kong International Licensing Conference.

One such agreement was reached between South Korea’s largest animation company, Sunwoo Entertainment, and Denmark’s Kidz Entertainment. The two companies signed a two-year contract, which is expected to earn the Korean company HK$10 million in royalties.

Sports licenses were also a hot item for agents like Brazil’s Marco Antonio Siqueira. Brazil is hosting the World Cup 2014, Brazil’s licensing industry hopes to work with suppliers from Hong Kong and the mainland. Hong Kong’s New Era Cap Co Ltd has become a licensed manufacturer of various Brazilian football club caps, and Mr Siqueira expects more Hong Kong suppliers will partner with Brazilian companies in the future. He said quality premiums and gifts such as pins and key rings are in demand, but few Brazilian suppliers can respond to the need.

Advantage of Licensing
There are many benefits from Licensing, Through the partnership with reputable brands and properties, consumer can distinguish products bearing brand names they are familiar with. Consumers are willing to pay more for the value of licensed merchandise. Lower Opportunity Cost could leverage on the brands’ popularity to achieve a wide marketing impact.

Brand licensing offers a long-term business model for profitable, sustained growth. Corporate brands have proprietary products that are unique to the brand. The primary goal of licensing is brand building, and the goal is to establish long-term partnerships since they are the most successful. Entertainment licensing, in contrast, focuses on images, artwork, characters, and so forth, and the primary goal is to receive royalties. Changes in products and licensees are more frequent than for corporate licensing.

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Brand owner should open to products that are relevant to local consumers, active in protecting trademarks and willing to explore other routes to consumers, such as e-commerce and multiple distributor networks.

For licensees strategic partner, should offer to the licensor and deliver consumer insights to show why the collaboration makes sense. There are also stressed the need to invest in innovation to solve unmet customer needs instead of just copying what someone else is doing, and to always be active in protecting trademarks.

Market Trends
In recent years, manufacturers, retailers, edu-tainment companies and food and beverage businesses have been actively seeking collaborations with brands to add value to their products and services, while the range of brands seeking licensing collaborations has diversified from characters and animations to art, culture, corporates, collegiate and music properties.

The licensing industry is diversifying. Properties now include such categories as lifestyle and fashion, characters, animation, edutainment, art and culture and food and beverage. Such widespread applicability suggests that the licensing industry will become more vibrant with keen demand for related supporting services.

There are many channels for broadcasting animation. Asia’s mega events, activities, theme parks, electronic games are all in need of new licensed characters. The market is huge.

At the same time, many consumers in the mainland China are proactively looking for personalised goods, which indirectly drives the growth of IP licensing in the country.

Consumers expect brands to stand for something; they want to purchase products that have a story and purpose with which they can identify; and consumers are increasingly seeking a deeper relationship with the brands they interact with.

Product execution involves building a lifestyle mood that transcends the product and the team, through style, design and fashion. Through co-branding and brand collaboration, licensees provide added value, brands need to ensure they select partners with connected core values.

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. 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.

Asian consumers will increasingly put their trust in new technologies such as artificial intelligence and algorithms. Consumers expect real value that goes beyond functionality. At the same time, companies must be considerate of cultural and religious beliefs, committed to sustainability, connected to the digital ecosystem, and offer quick solutions.

Leading event of Asia’s Licensing
Hong Kong an effective platform for entering the international market exhibitors, an ideal venue to exchanging ideas with industry players from around the world. With its rigorous intellectual property protection regime, robust legal system, professional expertise and proximity to Mainland China and other key Asian economies, Hong Kong “provides the ideal platform for global brands and top licensors to access markets across the region.

The International Licensing Show made it an excellent platform for brands to introduce new characters and properties to the Asian market. As the licensing hub for Asia, Hong Kong has a deep pool of IP professionals who can assist different companies to create and capture new licensing opportunities.

Hong Kong is the gateway to the Chinese mainland, the second-largest licensing market in Asia. Hong Kong’s robust intellectual property rights protection and sophisticated logistics network make it the region’s licensing hub and a strategic base from which to tap the mainland market.

The HKTDC continued to provide business matchmaking services on site, and also made the services available online through the Licensing Show website. This one-stop solution connected buyers with exhibitors at the show, helping companies to identify – and make crucial connections with – potential business partners from Hong Kong.

Supported by the Intellectual Property Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and organised by Licensing International, the newly established Licensing Academy brought industry players up to speed on issues such as licensing law essentials, operational intelligence and cross-border cooperation between retailers and manufacturers.

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is a statutory body established in 1966 to promote, assist and develop Hong Kong’s trade. With 50 offices globally, including 13 in Mainland China, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a two-way global investment and business hub. The HKTDC organises international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to create business opportunities for companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in the mainland and international markets. The HKTDC also provides up-to-date market insights and product information via trade publications, research reports and digital channels.

Tags: China