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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Kids Rule SK!

The Seoul Character Fair, which was held over five days at the end of July, was quite an eye-opener and, in many ways, made those of us who attended from Europe and USA think about the style of trade events that we have on offer.
The event brought together, quite literally, all sides of the licensing industry, from licensor or agent, to licensee, manufacturer and retailer. Nothing much new there – that’s what most western trade shows endeavour to achieve.

Where the Korean show differed from, say, Brand Licensing in London or other events held around the world is that whilst the first two days of the event were trade only, the last three days combined trade and public.

As somebody who has attended exhibitions in many parts of the world this year, and as the only licensing trade magazine in attendance, the thought of an event overrun by children initially seemed horrifying and, if the truth be known, largely irrelevant.

But, when the doors opened on the third day and thousands of children and their parents and others came into the show, it really was an eye-opener. Seeing which properties and booths attracted the most kids was invaluable. What better market research than the reaction of over 100,000 children and others?

It made us think. We’re so used to a formula for trade shows that we don’t really consider alternatives. But the Korean way was, after all, the logical way forwards. It involved, quite literally, every side of the industry – beginning with the property owner and ending with the all-important consumer.

The PR value for property owners in giving out samples and leaflets was immense. If a child fell for a character during the show, he was more likely to ask for that character after the show.

The more one thinks about it, the more logical a move it is. After all, why should trade shows, designed for the licensing industry, exclude the most important part of the foodchain – i.e. the consumer.

Granted if anyone were to suggest reorganising Licensing Expo or Brand Licensing to allow for a public day, there would be an outcry. Why? Because most of us can’t imagine a deluge of children coming into a trade event. To be honest, a couple of weeks ago, I would have felt the same. Now, though, I’m hooked! There’s nothing quite like the genuine reaction of children to tell you if you have a potential winner on your hands!

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