Anpanman once again, favorite among Japanese kids 12 years in a row

Anpanman once again, favorite among Japanese kids 12 years in a row

Anpanman? One Piece? Pretty Cure? Rilakkuma? Do you know what I am talking about? No? Ok, then you need to get with the program. These are some of the top-10 licensed characters in Japan. Some of the others, you may be more familiar with: Mickey Mouse, Pokemon, Hello Kitty, Winnie The Pooh, Super Mario Brothers and Snoopy. This is how they rank:

1. Anpanman
2. Mickey Mouse
3. Pokemon
4. Hello Kitty
5. One Piece
6. Pretty Cure
7. Rilakkuma
8. Winnie The Pooh
9. Super Mario Brothers
10. Snoopy (Peanuts)

I was really surprised that Garfield was not only in that list, but that they also failed to make top-25. While Japan falls short of $ 16 Billion in the retail market for character goods, that is still a huge number. It represents Asia’s largest territory for branded character merchandise. Sixty percent of character goods sales in 2013 were consumers under the age of 16. Something to note is that a large number of adults enjoy this type of merchandise as well. How many times have you seen young teens/adults wearing Hello Kitty, Pokemon and Mickey Mouse stuff? Well, in Japan it happens…a lot.

A huge boost in sales is accomplished through many brand-dedicated retailers. Brands like Pokemon and Hello Kitty are known for their own stores. Snoopy, Pretty Cure, Rilakkuma and others have followed their path as well. Mobile (instant messaging), social media and digital venues have sparked even further growth and awareness.

How does one break into this multi-billion dollar industry in Japan? The task is not easy and it will require lots of patience. It is a very competitive market dominated by very strong brands and characters that have been in existence for almost 2 decades. A lot of Japanese brands have their roots in Japanese comics (also known as manga). Lots of manga have acted as launch pads for some of the largest entertainment franchise groups. A good example is a publication called “Shonen Jump” which has a circulation of 2.8 million every week and has produced well know properties like Dragon Ball and Naruto. These Japanese comics allow publishers to constantly check for new content and allows for immediate feedback from readers and followers. This way, a property can also develop a healthy fan base before making it into TV and other mass media.

Congratulations to Takashi Yanase’s Anpanman, a hero with an edible head made of bread (pan) that is filled with red bean paste (an) for taking the first place in the overall ranking for 12 consecutive years.

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