Often touted as 'in its nascent stage,' the brand licensing industry of India has come off age and is now witnessing a disruption fueled by increasing influx of Indian IPs into licensing arena. An...

Often touted as ‘in its nascent stage,’ the brand licensing industry of India has come off age and is now witnessing a disruption fueled by increasing influx of Indian IPs into licensing arena. An update… Pegged at $1476 million in 2017, brand licensing is surely finding grounds in Indian markets, credits to the global ‘optimism’ for Indian market and soaring brand consciousness among gen Y. According to the recent survey by Licensing Industry Merchandiser’s Association (LIMA), Indian licensing and merchandising is at 20th position globally with royalties worth $74.4 million generated over last one year. And hopping on this licensing bandwagon are the brands from home turf, the ones that have proved their mettle in core categories and are now eyeing diversification through brand extension.

Catching the Character Chhota Bheem from the house of Green Gold Animation is one such example of licensing for a homegrown IP. With TV series, movies, merchandise program and theme park ride under its name, the licensing program for Chhota Bheem contributes to a significant part of the revenue at Green Gold Animation. Commenting on the licensing of homegrown IPs, Samir Jain, CEO and Executive Director, Green Gold Animation, says, “Chhota Bheem is the first Indian character that has marked its presence on the global landscape. Such characters that are homegrown resonate more with the Indian consumers as compared to the globally acclaimed IPs.” Now the market is witnessing foray of almost half a dozen prominent local IPs right from Viacom18’s Motu Patlu to newer brands like Little Singham and Sony launching an all out channel focused on Indian IPs - Sony YAY, with shows like Guru Aurr Bhole and Kicko.

The Big Wave In a scenario when the local brands are on a constant lookout for ways to engage consumers, brand licensing is definitely the most efficient mode for it allows the brands to diversify into multiple categories of not only making an entry but extending the manufacturing and distribution rights of the IPs to players with the right expertise in such categories. Commenting on this trend, Jiggy George, MD of Mojostar and Founder of Dream Theatre, says, “There is a lot to learn on brand building, architecture and licensing of brands from the global majors. They have done it far before us in India and have scaled them over geographies.

However, local IPs when built right- will always resonate strongly if not better than their international counterparts.” 'With brand building as the key focus area for a lot of home grown IPs, immense equity is being created, which will fuel larger and far more aggressive acquisition of market share for these brands across consumer products spectrum in the near future,' says Anand Dubey, Business Head, Bradford License India. Indian designers including the likes of Anita Dongre (AND/ Global Desi) and even the celebrities in niche domains like culinary expert chef Sanjeev Kapoor have built traction. According to a market report, retail licensing in India is estimated at $1.4 billion. In terms of market size, entertainment licensing is valued at $544 million, fashion licensing at $613 million and corporate licensing at $258 million.

Leading the Pack Some of the homegrown brands that have entered the licensing market with a big splash include Salman Khan’s Being Human, Virat Kohli’s One8; apparel brand Madame, Duke, sports brand by Shiv-Naresh, and so on.  “Fashion brands built around celebrities have made significant strides in sales. Also, newer brands like Jacqueline Fernandez (Just F) and Tiger Shroff (Prowl) will gain significant interest from consumers. These needs to of course stand the test of time with monies invested on content, marketing and differentiated product” adds George. In fact, homegrown cricket league IPL has experienced a spike in its brand value of USD 5.3 billion according to global valuation and corporate finance adviser Duff & Phelps. Individual IPL teams have also witnessed an increase in brand value, with Kolkata Knight Riders reaching the top of the ladder, despite not winning the recent tournament. All teams have forayed into licensing in order to capitalize on the ‘fandom’ generated during the cricket season.

Word of Caution Licensing of homegrown IPs is a trend which is happening in a lot of Asian markets, as local characters and animation are connecting well with the audience compared to the international ones. Voicing the same Bhavik Vora, co-founder & CEO, Black White Orange says, “Home grown IP’s might be doing well on ratings on television but the fact is that all of them might not be 'merchandisable' and might not translate well on products. The ones which do will have higher chances of success if the right product strategy is used.” Merchandise for these brands however remains a grey area in terms of success because of the local nature, minimum order issues on category like toys and lack of aspirational creative assets that are the key to success of a consumer product program. Further, as experts point out, it must be part of the blueprint when a brand is created. Licensors should bear in mind that India is a price-sensitive market; therefore, products must be available at a suitable price for Indian consumers.    

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