Animation International (Thailand) Co or AI expects sales growth of 20% next year after obtaining a licence to sell merchandise for the free mobile LINE chat application.
Expect to see more of this cat in 2013, as its Thailand licence owner plans to expand the line into department stores and other modern trade outlets while increasing the age range of customers, says Mr Pariphan (left) and Mr Thawach.
The animation licensing firm, which is a joint venture between the Hong Kong-based Animation International Ltd and JSL Co, recently obtained a licence from NHN Japan Corporation to become the sole manager of its merchandise.
"With 10 million users in Thailand, we believe the large customer base for LINE will ensure our ability to push out our products into the market in a short period and make them popular," said AI managing director Pariphan Nunbhakdi.
Deputy managing director Thawach Imraporn said products such as stickers related to LINE, which has 80 million users worldwide, will be released starting next year.
As with the company's Doraemon cartoon character, LINE will be developed into a merchandise and lifestyle brand apart from the fact that the focus will be primarily on pre-teens, whereas Doraemon also includes adults.
While LINE will focus on the premium market, Doraemon also caters to the lower market, so the market share of LINE will be lower than that of Doraemon, said Mr Thawach.
Four years ago, AI and JSL set up House of Cartoon Co to manage Thai cartoon licences for Bloody Bunny, Biscuit and Unsleep Sheep.
Mr Pariphan said AI expects 15% sales growth this year and 20% next year.
However, most of the growth next year will still be from its flagship Pokemon brand, which accounts for 80-90% of sales and has more than 50 licensees.
"We do not look at the number of licensees but rather the number of product categories that we develop. For instance, we could have only one licensee but many product categories," said Mr Thawach.
Other animation licences the company owns include Doraemon the Movie, Crayon Shin Chan, Ocha-Ken, Ocha-Neeko and Panda Z.
While some cartoon characters such as Pokemon and Digimon come and go, Doraemon will step into its fifth year with the company in 2013.
"It took us a year or two to educate our partners that Doraemon is not a come-and-go product, as most of our partners and manufacturers thought," said Mr Thawach.
Next year's focus will be on expanding Doraemon lines into department stores and other modern trade outlets while increasing the age range of customers.
Last year AI conducted a roadshow upcountry and received promising feedback, which shows the cartoon character will become increasingly popular in those areas, said Mr Thawach, adding that provinces such as Ubon Ratchathani even received visitors from Laos.
The company this year invested 20 million baht in below- and above-the-line marketing, with more campaigns in department stores.
"Most animation has a maximum time period of five years before sales of their products start to slow down. But Doraemon is a product and lifestyle brand, not just a souvenir. The cartoon cat is only a graphic, but the merchandise is the leader," said Mr Thawach.
About the author
- Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
Position: News Reporter