Australia Eyes Tween Market

Co-branding and a vigorously growing tween market are key trends in the licensing world down under.

Two key trends are emerging in the Australian licensing business: co-branding and a growing interest in the tween market.

Recently signed deals that reflect this strategy include MTV's deal with Puma and its partnership with SpongeBob SquarePants and A Bathing Ape, a fashion and leisure brand, which is positioned more toward the tween market than kids, says Jack Yew, vice president at Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products for Greater China, South Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Don Wood, head of Disney Consumer Products for Australia and New Zealand, describes Disney's tween business as "quite dynamic" and as having a clear impact on the popularity of product lines. DCP recently merged apparel, footwear and accessories with home, and, says Wood, "of the many product segments, the largest would be girls/tween girls and teen/women." And he sees "the growth in tweens as one of the principal drivers in fashion and home."

Disney develops new products based on tween Disney Channel shows, though, explains Wood, "We need to do this at the right time relative to the launch of the shows." Citing the upcoming Jonas Brothers film as an example, Wood says that "the movie 'Jonas Brothers: The Burning Up' will premier in mid-May, followed by The Disney Channel series launch of Jonas in mid-June, during which time there will be a considerable push behind the music, and then licensing will be ready to start after that."

While the growth of the Australian tween market is exciting and important, Yew stresses that "preschool is still the biggest category." Yew estimates that in this demographic, which he defines as 2 to 5 years old and the 6- to 9-year-old age group that follows it, "Boys account for around 45 percent of sales of licensed product and girls around 55 percent." But when they grow into the newly emerging tween market, the balance changes dramatically—especially with so many more brands skewing toward tween girls. "If you look at a classic tween property such as iCarly," says Yew, "sales are almost 80 percent girls and only 20 percent boys, and the product lines that are selling most strongly are apparel, accessories, gifts and novelties."

And iCarly illustrates another interesting aspect of this growing segment of the market. "There is," reports Yew, "already a buzz about the series in Australia, even though it has yet to go to air, and the reason," he explains, "is that the U.S. success has been closely followed on the Internet creating a growing anticipation for its arrival in Australia."

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