Angry Birds’ merchandise sale in China fails

Angry Bird producer, Rovio Entertainment Ltd, announced an ambitious target of a billion fans for the popular game via brick-and-mortar stores. However, the sales have not been as encouraging as the Finnish company had expected, at least in the first three weeks after the grand opening of its first Angry Bird brand store in Shanghai last month, writes China daily.

According to the Chinese newspaper, the Chinese teenagers find the products too expensive.

“Those products are not cheap at all, especially when you compare them with the prices online,” said Pan Yankai, a 16-year-old who used to play the game a lot.

And by “online”, she was not referring to Rovio’s official e-store on Tmall.com, the country’s most influential business-to-customer site, but the pirated spin-offs flooding other websites.

An Angry Birds-themed T-shirt costs 259 yuan ($40) in the store and an iPhone case sells for 138 yuan. Fakes can be bought through unauthorized channels at a fifth to one-third of the price of authentic ones.

Peter Vesterbacka, the company’s global chief marketing officer, has declined to reveal the sales figures of online stores and brick-and-mortar shops. But he said the Shanghai store marks the first in a chain of 25 scheduled to open in the country by the end of this year.

Rovio has to deal with rampant intellectual property violations and sales of counterfeit merchandise. Paul Chen, the company’s China head, believed their strong brand presence in China would make it easier for buyers to get authorized products. He expected revenue in China to triple in 2012, thanks to booming licensing income.

But market observers had their doubts about the ambitious plan.

“In a largely cost-conscious market, many users just want birds that look like those in the games, no matter whether they are authentic or not,” said Sun Mengzi, a games specialist with IT consultancy Analysys International.

The Angry Bird brand store in Shanghai is the first one outside Rovio home base in Finland.

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