According to industries reports on April 19th, Kakao is working on detailed business plans, such as business items, investment, and finance for Kakao IX, which was established last year to prepare for the character business in the US market. The US is the world’s largest market with an estimated market size of 127 trillion won (about US$108 billion).
Kakao has recently applied to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a number of trademark rights related to Kakao Friends, including Kakao IX, the operator of its flagship character brand, Kakao FriendsWithin the last year, Kakao has applied for about 10 trademark rights in the US.
Kakao’s entry into the US market is seen as a step greatly encouraged by its recent success in the Japanese market. Kakao IX, the operator of Kakao Friends, said 350,000 people have visited the store for about a month since it opened an offline store in Tokyo last December. Its sales goal was also better than expected exceeding 144%.
The US is home to the character industry, which accounts for more than half of the global market, and the market is expected to reach 111.7 billion dollars this year. Character licensing businesses such as clothes, games, electronics and household goods are also the most active markets. Successful characters in the US also have global influence.
Kakao Friends’ entry into the US is also a test bed for the growth of the native character industry. In the past, the Korean character market has remained a lopsided consumption of US or Japanese characters, but it showed potential in the 2000s when it produced international characters such as “Pororo.” Kakao Friends is an example of the character industry’s target customers expanding not only to children but also to teenagers and adults.
“Kakao Friends is considering its business in the US market after Japan and it is currently partially doing business in Amazon’s US store,” said a representative for Kakao.