Global IP owners eye booming family entertainment market in China

Family entertainment market has been booming across the world, and China has been no exception. With the government relaxing the family policy norms, the market is poised for a rapid takeoff in the country as more parents turn to interactive parenting.

China’s children’s entertainment-related consumption market stood at nearly $676 billion in 2021, with children’s entertainment market alone nearly $69 billion and accounting for 33 percent of the total household spending, according to Data from Guanyan Report, a data analysis company.

But the market is not just about entertainment as it has opened a new consumption channel that features concepts like “family hotels”, “family restaurants”, “family location-based entertainment (LBE) ” and various other consumer formats. It has also attracted a host of leading international and domestic brands, all of whom are looking to expand their presence in a huge market like China.

Based on the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) estimates for 2020, China is expected to become the biggest entertainment market globally in the near future with family entertainment being one of the main drivers.

Owen Zhao, Chairman of TEA China Development Council said that during the last two decades, many international Intellectual property (IP) owners enjoyed a really successful IP licensing business in China. A wide range of brand awareness and fans have been achieved.

“It is an opportune time for international IP owners to explore their location-based entertainment business in the China market,” said Zhao.

Several leading global intellectual properties in the children’s world such as Lego, Barbie, Thomas and Friends, Shaun the Sheep and several others are already big names in China’s family entertainment market. The thriving market combined with the presence of leading international brands is set to propel the family entertainment market to even greater heights.

U.S.-headquartered Mattel, one of the world’s largest toy companies, opened its first Barbie Sweets Store in China last year. Mattel considers China as one of its key growth markets.

Chen Jiaoli, Mattel’s director for Location-Based Entertainment, pointed out that APAC has been the fastest-growing region for the LBE industry, with China being one of the major growth drivers. Mattel’s licensed LBE projects attract millions of visitors every year.

“We opened our first Barbie Sweet Store last summer with two locations in Guangzhou. Later we added another two pop-up shops including one in Shanghai at the Pearl Tower,” said Chen.

Chen emphasized that to maintain the IP value of its brands and protect consumers, Mattel has been actively enforcing its IP rights across China, with the Chinese authorities often lending a helping hand.

WETA Workshop, which owns IPs such as “Lord of the Rings,” “Avatar,” and “Hobbit,” is also actively planning its second location-based entertainment facility in China.

Richard Tayler, CEO and Co-founder of WETA Workshop confirmed that he is extremely confident in China and the huge market. “During the past 22 years we’ve continued to find amazing collaborators and we just love working with China,” Tayler said.

Besides super-large location-based entertainment facilities, smaller projects have also been booming. Most of these projects are not focused on big cities but on second- and third-tier cities, opening new avenues for growth and consumption.

To cite an example, Shaun the Sheep Farm theme park offers several unique experiences. Owen says that it is only a tenth of the size of Disneyland. But it has been introduced in several cities in China, including third tier cities.

As companies chart expansion plans to further expand their presence in China, local governments and the central government are also rolling more friendly policies for further development of the sector. With China celebrating Children’s Day on Wednesday, there is no doubt that the sun is indeed rising for big-ticket IPs in China.