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Globetrotting reports: China

We kick off a week-long look at how key territories are performing so far this year.

The UK licensing sector is in pretty rude health at the moment, but how much is this replicated in other countries?

All this week, The Source will be checking out the landscape of some key overseas territories with the help of some experts, and discovering that there are some challenges – and properties – which are universal, regardless of location.

Today: China

According to a LIMA survey, 2015 retail sales of licensed merchandise for China and Hong Kong stood at $7.6 billion, up 24.6% on 2014.

And, while the number for 2016 hasn’t yet been released (expect this to coincide with the inaugural Licensing Expo China in July), Tani Wong – the LIMA representative for the territory – is expecting another strong year of business growth. As well as the continued success of local brands, more and more overseas properties were also entering China, says Tani.

“Like other parts of the world, Disney is the number one player in the market,” she comments. “The market is predominantly overseas brands, but local properties such as Super Wings and Boonie Bears are beginning to grow.

“Overseas brand owners need to be flexible to tackle local practice and are ready to take on innovative collaboration ideas from Chinese companies. It is recommended to have people on the ground to interact with clients and understand local practice.”

In terms of the retail marketplace, ecommerce is an important sector in China, with online retailers such as Alibaba Group and JD having set up dedicated teams to manage licensed merchandise. The Alifish platform has also been launched by Alibaba to facilitate business matching between brand owners and e-merchants.

As for areas of growth, Tani says: “In addition to traditional entertainment sectors, mobile internet is a key area to incubate new properties in China. Many local IPs, both short and long-terms, have evolved from mobile internet.”

Ultimately, Tani is confident that the market in China will continue to grow. “It will definitely grow bigger and soon surpass Japan to be the biggest market in Asia.”

This feature originally appeared in the summer 2017 edition of Licensing Source Book. Click here to read the full publication.

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