Southeast Asian companies catch a ride on 'Pokemon Go' train
KOTARO HIDAKA, NQN staff writer
SINGAPORE -- Southeast Asian businesses are embracing the "Pokemon Go" invasion with gusto, signing licensing agreements to use popular characters as a marketing tool.
The smartphone game, launched in August, breathed new life into the Pokemon phenomenon. Companies signing licensing agreements have more than doubled from 70 before the release to roughly 160, according to Pokemon Co.
Their ranks include such big names as Vietnam Dairy Products, or Vinamilk, and Globe Telecom of the Philippines. Companies hope to win more customers, mainly in younger generations, by leveraging Pokemon's worldwide popularity. "Pokemon Go" is now available in Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Some 3,000 fans gathered Friday at Singapore's Changi Airport to see a 4-meter-tall Pikachu statue and 10 Pikachu-costumed performers at a parade organized by Pokemon Co. And Southeast Asia's first Pokemon Cafe reopens here this coming Thursday.
"By leveraging the popularity of 'Pokemon Go,' we want to expand our market scale in Southeast Asia and India, where the youth population is large and further population growth is expected," said Susumu Fukunaga, corporate officer at Pokemon Co.
Nintendo has reported 12 billion yen ($108.5 million) in non-operating profit attributable to "Pokemon Go" for the April-September half. Initial shipments of its new "Pokemon Sun" and "Pokemon Moon" games for the 3DS handheld have hit 10 million units worldwide. The Japanese company's stock price has begun picking up steam again after having lost momentum this autumn.
Whether Pokemon's popularity can contribute to increased profits in Southeast Asia and India will be key to a further rise by Nintendo's shares.