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Pictured L-R in the front: Lawrence Chan, HKTDC Toys advisory committee chairman; Benjamin Chau, acting executive director, HKTDC; Philip Yung, permanent secretary for commerce and economic development (commerce, industry and tourism); Li Jiangang, deputy director general, Department of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Affairs, Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China; and Tommy Li, HKTDC Design, Marketing and Licensing Services advisory committee chairman

The world’s second-largest and Asia’s largest event of its kind, the 16th Hong Kong International Licensing Show and the 7th Asian Licensing Conference kicked off Jan. 8 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

HKTDC Acting Executive Director Benjamin Chau said the growing use of licensing and the diverse businesses covered by the sector not only help manufacturing and retailing companies increase products and services sales and explore new markets, Hong Kong creative and design talents can also establish cross-sector partnerships and launch overseas by licensing their brands and properties.  In recent years, location-based entertainment licensing has become popular, with many theme parks, hotels and cafes opening in Asia through licensing. In addition, licensing opportunities brought by video gaming and digital entertainment in Asia, especially in the Chinese mainland, should also not be overlooked.

Charles Riotto, president, International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, said licensing has become a major force in pushing forward the world economy. According to the group’s findings, retail sales of global licensed products in 2016 reached US$262.9 billion, up 4.4 percent over last year, while the growth rate in the Asian market reached 8.8 percent.

The show features more than 380 exhibitors from around the globe, gathering more than 1,000 brands and licensed items. Many international licensors and licensing agents choose Hong Kong as a strategic hub to expand their Asian licensing business, especially in the Chinese mainland. Top international licensors and licensing agents such as CAA-GBG Global Brands, IMG, LMCA, Global Icons, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, and Sanrio, which are part of this year’s show, are here to look for more business opportunities.

Home-grown characters/brands created by Hong Kong designers and illustrators are on display at the Chancellor Room and fourth floor of the HKCEC. They include Plastic Thing, Dustykid, b.wing and Singsing Rabbit, who have strong fan bases, as well as popular brands like McMug and McDull and The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes. “Hong Kong is Asia’s licensing hub as well as a city filled with creativity,” said HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Raymond Yip. “The Licensing Show showcases Hong Kong’s creative force and connects local design talents with potential with potential partners and transforms their creativity into business opportunities via licensing explore licensing.”

In addition to business-matching services, the licensing show this year also debuts the “Meet the VIP Buyers” sessions, where VIP buyers, including Xiaomi, JD.com, and Kidswant from the Chinese mainland, as well as Sunway Group from Malaysia, can share their business focus and partnership requirements. Exciting performances, including Kumamon Dance Performance and Puzzle Bear Party, have been organized on-site to raise brand awareness.

Six group pavilions from the Chinese mainland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan have joined this year’s show. Thanks to the continuous support of various Asian governments, the scale of these pavilions has also been enlarged. The Chinese mainland has been striving to make the cultural and creative industry an economic pillar in recent years, encouraging more animation and comics, arts and cultural enterprises to commercialize their creativity and IPs into licensed products and services. Chinese mainland participation is at a record-high this year, with 134 companies attending the fair.

China’s Ministry of Culture has again organized the Chinese mainland pavilion, featuring more than 110 companies, gathering well-known cultural, arts, animation and comics branded institutions, including the Palace Museum, Fantawild Animation Inc, and Guangzhou Animation Comic Association.

The concurrent Asian Licensing Conference was held January 8-9, gathering about 30 global licensing experts to explore industry opportunities and challenges.This morning’s two plenary sessions focused on location-based entertainment licensing and brand licensing. In the first session, Charles Riotto of LIMA, Viacom International Media Networks (represented brand: Nickelodeon) and Dream Castle (represented brand: Ali the Fox), shared how location-based entertainment can create unique consumer experiences through licensing.

In the second session, representatives from Electrolux, Brandgenuity (represented brands: BMW, Banana Boat) and Boy Scouts of America discussed how corporate brand licensing has become a core business development strategy to raise brand popularity and expand their customer base.

Two breakout sessions were organized with the first session centering on digital transformation in the licensing industry. Renowned digital and gaming brands, such as Activision Blizzard (representing World of Warcraft), Ubisoft (representing Assassin’s Creed) and Microsoft Licensing, shared licensing strategies and success cases of gamification and digitalization. To examine opportunities in Japan, Asia’s largest and the world’s third-largest licensing market, the second breakout session featured discussions led by Asatsu-DK Inc (representingKumamon), Tsuburaya (representingUltraman), Benesse (representing Qiaohu), Ingram Co, Ltd (representing Rilakkuma), on licensing opportunities for animation and comics, games, tourism and sports in Japan.

The increasing use of the Internet, social media, and smartphones in the Chinese mainland has changed mainland’s consumption pattern. In tomorrow morning’s China Thematic Session, JD.com, iQIYI, China Literature Ltd and Fantawild Animation Inc will unveil the exponential growth of licensing opportunities on the mainland. Two licensing workshops were held to introduce the essentials and operating models in the licensing industry. The IP and Legal Fundamentals for Licensing workshop discussed key legal issues, such as exclusivity, territorial restrictions, royalty calculations, contractual period, renewal options and quality control.

Together with the concurrent Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, Hong Kong Baby Products Fair and Hong Kong International Stationery Fair, the four fairs bring synergy to attract more industry players and buyers.

For more info, visit www.hktdc.com/fair/hklicensingshow-en for the Hong Kong International Licensing Show or www.hktdc.com/fair/alc-en for the Asian Licensing Conference.

Established in 1966, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council is a statutory body dedicated to creating opportunities for Hong Kong’s businesses. With more than 40 offices globally, including 13 on the Chinese mainland, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China, Asia and the world. With 50 years of experience, the HKTDC organises international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to provide companies, particularly SMEs, with business opportunities on the mainland and in international markets, while providing information via trade publications, research reports and digital channels including the media room. For more info, visit www.hktdc.com/aboutus.

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