emoji Growing and Expanding in China
The emoji® brand is growing and expanding in the Chinese marketplace. To find out more about their chinese expansion plans, Total Licensing talked to Marco Heusges, CEO and creator of the successful emoji® brand.
Where did the idea for the emoji® brand come from?
To be perfectly honest the initial idea came out of the blue while being on vacation in the middle of 2013.Like anyone else I was using icons in my digital communication but that was simply it.
Over a period of 2 years I carefully analysed the market as I was impressed by the expressive power and the potential to communicate by using pictographs which, after my research, lead to the development of a strategy for turning this digital phenomenon into a life style brand for tangible products and services. From that moment onwards we completely created the emoji® brand from scratch, we made heavy investments into global trademark protection, developing content, brand and launch strategies and finally presented the brand to the world of licensing in 2015. After this, emoji® – The Iconic Brand – took the market by storm and over the years the brand became one of the most recognized and globally successful lifestyle brands.
Can you tell us how emoji® – The Iconic Brand, has grown, globally, since it began?
Since its launch in 2015 the emoji® brand has enjoyed unstoppable growth all around the world.
Nowadays the brand is established in more than 100 countries around the globe. We are developing FMCG´s, entertainment related services, promotions, attractions and events together with our dedicated licensee. The variety and the depth of the brand and its related emoji® brand characters and designs enables us to tap into countless licensing categories and opens up opportunities way beyond the standard licensing potential. By 2018 the emoji company ranked at # 57 amongst the Top 150 Global Licensors and surpassed a retail turnover of more than US $800 Million. We operate partnerships with more than 800 global corporations and work with industry leaders and blue-chip companies all over the world.
Why do you think the emoji brand works so well on products and services?
Our brand stands for the purest form of communication and engagement. Its expressive nature is a one-of-a-kind and it has the powerful ability to convey straightforward and globally understandable consumer messages. Everyone can identify themselves with the brand. emoji® is the politically correct lifestyle brand for the entire family – fun to use and applicable in any area which makes it one of the world’s most valuable lifestyle brands. The emoji® brand mirrors human emotions and habits and truly connects with the audience. The brand´s scope of application is limitless and it allows our licensees, from any industry, to universally engage with their consumers without any spreading loss.
When and how did you first enter the Chinese market?
We entered the Chinese market at an early stage, at the beginning of 2016. Since this time we have been working with our agent Medialink and, as a result, have been optimizing brand strategies and product development.
Do you see emoji as being the new ‘global’ language?
Without a doub,t the usage of icons in digital communication is a global phenomenon and people all around the globe use this complementary way of communication in order to connect. It enables mankind to communicate faster, in an intelligible way and it is fun as well.
In terms of China, what were the first products featuring the emoji® brand in the territory?
Our first partnerships were in the apparel and home and living category. We worked with companies such as Peacebird for apparel), New Era for headwear, Bossini, J-Tex for bedding but also did some early promotions and advertisement partnerships with companies such as Nikon or Fuji Photo.
Where were these products retailed?
Official emoji® brand products can be found all across the country. We operate multiple DTR programs, sell in fashion boutiques, speciality stores, department stores and of course online. Distribution channels include TMall, Taobao, VIP, JDMall, Miniso, AEON, Watsons, Wanda Plaza, Family Mart, 7Eleven and many more.
Can you bring us up to date with all your activities in China?
China is one of our most important markets. Together with our agent Medialink we have been able to secure fantastic partnerships with best in class partner over the years. Our client portfolio includes partners such as Kipling for bags, Mead Johnson for nutrition, Vinda for tissues, Unilever for Pond`s , L´Oreal, Safiya for footwear, Bejing Gold for jewelry, Chevrolet for advertisements, Listerine for a promotion, Saint Honore for cakes, and MJ Style for an apparel DTR, amongst many others. Regularly and all across China we are developing energetic mall events with partners such as Viva Malls. We create virtual experiences and operate fun activities such as the emoji® brand fitness day, the emoji® brand run and the emoji® brand pet experience together with our licensee. Such activities guarantee permanent brand visibility and consumer engagement.
How are you looking to expand in the marketplace?
Our expansion is based on multiple aspects and actions.
The emoji® brand has become a true lifestyle brand for teenagers and young adults. In 2020 we will see some worldwide fashion collaborations as well as dedicated collaborations for the Chinese market that will ensure both global and local visibility and will ensure brand awareness.
In 2019 we launched our first 3 emoji® mono brand apparel stores in Mainland China. This is all part of a big expansion plan here in China. We expect to open 10 more mono brand stores in 2020 and the target is to open at least 100 mono brand stores in the next 5 years.
Together with our Chinese partner we just recently launched the emoji® brand store on TMall and of course we will soon expand to other online platforms. We are also going to launch emoji® brand tea stores all across China, starting in 2020. In China the consumer loves to interact with brands and we are continuously operating mall events and activities which the emoji® brand is perfect for. The same applies to promotional campaigns all across China which not only generate revenue but have a great impact on brand awareness.
On top of that, we offer a wide selection of appealing new style guides throughout the year to inspire our licensees and to refresh certain product categories. We also offer some selected brand collaborations such as emoji® By Britto which we are going to launch in China throughout 2020.
In addition to that we are developing individual, China-specific styleguides together with our agent to meet the taste of the local market. The potential in China is vast but in order to succeed Western brands in particular need to overcome certain challenges, meet cultural demands and learn to understand the Chinese market. The universal character of the emoji® brand and its existing acceptance by the Chinese consumer is a clear competitive advantage for our success here in China and we are confident to grow our brand potential in China above average in the coming years.