Multimillion-dollar toy story
Just one of the hundreds of booths at the China Licensing Expo in
Barbie and Thomas the Tank Engine are helping
Barbie earns millions of dollars out of her image rights, so does Thomas the Tank Engine and his railway character friends.
But the biggest winners are the companies which manufacture these super toys when it comes to licensing products across the globe.
First stop on the road to riches is China.
"The country's licensing market is going through explosive growth and it is expected to maintain this momentum," said
Last year, China became the world's fifth largest licensing market with an annual retailing value of
It slotted in behind
"China will become the major driving force (behind) global licensing market growth by the year 2020 when the middle class population in the country reaches 600 million," Riotto said.
This vibrant vision was on view at the China Licensing Expo 2017 in
More than 700 companies demonstrated their products with half of them making their debuts at the exhibition.
Toy giants and entertainment companies, such as
During the past few years,
In October, the group unveiled its first Thomas & Friends movie, The Great Race, to Chinese children during National Day holiday week.
To cater for its preschool audience, the animated film included its first Chinese character, a flaming red engine named
Apart from the big screen production,
In the summer, the first official
"If you look at it from the perspective of industrial generalization, you can see 30 percent of the total volume of the toy industry is driven by the licensing business, especially the preschool consumer part," said Peter Broegger, managing director of
Since 2016, the imaging rights of Thomas & Friends have been used by
Barbie has become another popular
In the past decade,
The company also aims to tap into the second-child policy, which was rolled out last year, with a marketing strategy for Fisher-Price.
Catering for preschool children, the educational toy brand announced a partnership agreement in July with Three Gun, a 100-year-old clothing company based in
The plan is to launch a variety of new products for babies and toddlers.
The policy has paid off with the company registering double-digit growth in China's licensing business during the past five years.
But despite rapid expansion, there is still room for development in the image rights market because of low average consumption.
Data released by
Figures also highlighted average consumption per capita of licensed products was only
Still, Broegger is confident the market will expand in
"The contribution of the licensing business in the US and
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