I am here in Asia for the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair. Getting out of JFK airport this year was not easy (an 18 hour delay, 14 hours in the air and they lost my bag) but, despite the challenges, it is always exciting to be here. This is a great show and Hong Kong is a great city.
This year, however, is different. I am finding a palpably changing landscape for the world's toy economy. Those who work and lead in the Hong Kong toy industry are reorienting their thinking to the realization that China is projected to supplant the US as the largest domestic toy market in the world by the year 2022 (Euromonitor).
While here, I have had a number of conversations with Hong Kong toy industry leaders and they are clearly focused on developing distribution networks within China. This global shift is going to have an enormous impact on all of us in the business of play and particularly on those who develop toys.
When an inventor or designer develops a product or when a writer creates a movie script, they have an end user in their mind's eye. Up until now, that end user has been western. In the future he or she may well be Asian.
The trick is going to be found in how our creative classes develop intellectual properties that authentically speak to a specific group while maintaining a global appeal. In other words, how does one create a product for an Asian sensibility while still appealing to a child from, say, France, the US or Colombia?
It can be done because it has been done. Kung Fu Panda and the recent CoCo each demonstrated an ability to be both culturally authentic, Chinese in the case of the former and Mexican in the case of the latter, while having an appeal to all groups.
How we see our customers and where the lucrative markets will be found are just part of the profound changes we will be seeing in a global toy marketplace that is vastly different than the one we knew just a decade ago. Come to Hong Kong and you will see for yourself.