Japan: It's a Woman's World

Female-skewed licensed product growth is still possible in the Japanese market.

The licensed product market across East Asia is skewed to adult females and nowhere more so than in Japan where, for example, the success of Mattel's Barbie brand is testament to the power of this demographic. And, of course, the home-grown Hello Kitty has long been a staple property for young adult women.

It is no surprise then that Hideki Kunugiyama, who has just been appointed to head up CPLG's new Japan office, sees apparel as a key category in the country. Indeed, Cookie Jar has already signed a number of new apparel deals on Strawberry Shortcake, including the appointment of Children's Apparel Network as master apparel licensee.

CPLG, owned by Canadian entertainment business Cookie Jar, also is working on its properties Inspector Gadget, Caillou and The Doodlebops, as well as new properties, such as Busytown, based on Richard Scarry's best-selling range of books.

"Character licensing dominates the Japanese market, especially characters based on animation, comics, video and online games," says Kunugiyama. "And the popularity of many of these brands is spreading fast to the adult market."

Kunugiyama attributes the expansion in the age demographic buying licensed products to "Asia's declining birth rate, which has created a younger generation of parents who will continue to buy character-licensed brands alongside high-priced fashion."

CPLG statistics show that licensed product spend is concentrated on women between the ages of 19 and 49, indicating that they are buying for themselves as well as for their children (see table).

And Kunugiyama is optimistic that, despite what he describes as "the slow economy," the licensing business in general still has room to grow.

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