Organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC,) the 17th edition of the HKTDC Hong Kong International Licensing Show, the world’s second-largest and Asia’s largest event of its kind, attracted a record attendance to the three-day fair of more than 23,000 visitors from about 100 countries and regions. The event ran concurrently with the eighth Asian Licensing Conference (Jan. 7-8,) featuring 30 speakers from renowned brands and global licensing experts.
Rapid Market Growth Drives Industry Forward
Speaking at the opening ceremony, HKTDC Executive Director Margaret Fong explained the shifting economics of global manufacturing have created challenges for industry players, with issues such as increasing protectionism and the transition to e-tailing leading many businesses to begin exploring licensing opportunities in a bid to move up the value chain.
Fong noted that the licensing industry has been showing an upward trend, with global sales of licensed products reaching U.S. $271 billion in 2017, an increase of 3.3 percent on the previous year. The regional story was even more impressive, with sales growing by 5.8 percent to U.S. $31.6 billion and accounting for 11.6 percent of the world total.
She added that the mainland China market showed an increase of 10.3 percent, topping the world growth chart and continuing to be a significant driver of the global licensing industry.
Conference Unveils New E-sports and Content Licensing Opportunities
Nancy Jiang, general manager of licensing for iQIYI, says, “iQIYI started business running an online video platform. We widened our business scope to develop our own content properties and build our own licensing business out of them. Our flagship competition show, The Rap of China, features the street culture of mainland China. It has become a cultural icon of the country and the IP is generating licensing revenue for iQIYI.”
Jai Wu, head of LPL merchandise and licensing for Riot Games China, explained that Mainland China is now the largest e-sports market globally—and still rising. The mainland had 250 million e-sports users in 2018, after e-sports revenue totaled U.S. $760 million in 2017.
Wu says, “We have launched a wide variety of licensing programs, including comics, novels and a reality TV show. We are developing our e-sports business through cross-platform and cross-sector cooperation.”
DTR Talk Connects Exhibitors to Retailers
The DTR Talk sessions, where successful retailers in Asia share their IP sourcing needs and requirements for licensing cooperation, debuted at this year’s conference.
Hanshin Department Store Co. Ltd Senior Manager Marketing Department Amanda Yuen says, “Online shopping is growing fast, and in order to bring online consumers back to offline, we run activities every festive season and cooperation with licensed characters is an effective strategy. In the past, licensing cooperation was usually led by brand owners and retailers had little say. By joining the Hong Kong International Licensing Show, we can assume a proactive role in finding partners and we have identified an interesting Hong Kong character brand for further discussion.”
European Brands Come to Tap Asian Markets
First-time exhibitor, MotoGP’s Licensing Director of Commercial Department Phaedra Haramis says, “Licensing has helped transform our event IP into a lifestyle brand, which is more sustainable. MotoGP events are staged in different parts of the world, with a strong presence Europe, Japan and Thailand. This is my first time to take part in the show and I feel excited that it opens the door to huge licensing opportunities. Through the business-matching service, I am glad to be lined up with apparel manufacturers from Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, Mainland China, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.”
Another debut exhibitor at the European Lifestyle Brand Forum, Chupa Chups, is a Spanish candy brand with 60 years’ history. Licensing Area Manager Marta Ballesteros Codina says, “We have actively developed a cross-border licensing business for promoting the fun and playful image of Chupa Chups. Results at the show are very encouraging. We have located apparel manufacturers from Australia and mainland China to further exploring collaboration.”
Local Creative Talents Expand Business Network
Hong Kong exhibitor Active Works Company Limited Managing Director Victor Lam, says, “Amid strong competition, forming partnerships through licensing is the key to grow any business. We met with a Korean artist-cum-brand owner who was attracted to our cute Puzzle Bear IP through the show’s business-matching service. As both parties have our own IPs and strong licensing and marketing teams, we could launch brand cooperation across regions. We have already had several rounds of negotiation.”
Ellen Mok, director of MiQi which exhibited in the inaugural DLAB Hong Kong Pavilion, says, “Our brand has collaborated with some big names to roll out jewelry and chocolate collections. Through the business-matching meeting, we were paired up with an Indonesian company which would like to engage our training services, while buyers from Singapore and Malaysia are looking to become our agency in Southeast Asia.”
Concurrent Event Enriches Licensing Show
The Asian Licensing Conference ran concurrently with the Licensing Show, giving insights into the latest industry trends, including the fast-growing Asia and mainland China markets, content licensing, e-sports, and legal and operational tactics. The event attracted more than 1,300 attendees from around the world.
Established in 1966, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is a statutory body dedicated to creating opportunities for Hong Kong’s businesses. With 50 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 more than 50 years of experience, the HKTDC organizes international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to provide companies, particularly SMEs, with business opportunities on the mainland and in international markets, while providing business insights and information via trade publications, research reports and digital channels including the media room. For more info, visit www.hktdc.com/aboutus.