AG Voice | Licensing in India a 2014 Sectoral Review

Though India licensing began the year on a quiet note, we see the industry having made large strides as 2014 draws to a close. While Entertainment Licensing remains the mainstay, 2014  is the breakaway year for new genres to have made their presence felt in a big way, the biggest winner being soccer with the biggest sporting event on the Globe: Football or soccer as some of the world calls it

Led by Dream Theatre represented properties, the year opened with FIFA 2014, which was not only a huge success story on the viewership front, but a quieter revolution was afoot on the  FIFA 2014 licensed merchandise front in a cricket crazy country. The merchandise programme was a phenomenal success  with  Apparel, Bags, Watches being lapped up by eager fans. Suditi Apparel, the apparel licensee,  did particularly well with its  strong product line, branding and a well entrenched presence in the physical and online retail space.   Fuelled by the latent demand and the huge following that international soccer clubs enjoy in India, we have further strengthened our sports portfolio by adding Real Madrid and AC Milan to its portfolio.  Though ISL has a long way road to establishment and fan following to garner, the very opening up of domestic club football, the entry of International biggies and  upcoming announcements from Dream Theatre signals the arrival of soccer and sports licensing in India.

Within the entertainment licensing space, I believe Super heroes made a big comeback in India too, echoing the international trend with DC Comics and Marvel dominating the scene. We saw significant launches by Disney via content and they backed it with tieing up a range of categories from apparel and bags to back to school supplies and toys. In one of the biggest FMCG promotions of the year, Dream Theatre tied up a Warner Bros. Justice League Promotional Licensing deal with Cadbury Gems which is currently in stores across India  - the promotion has Justice League super hero premiums and is superbly supported by a very fun TVC on air. In yet another landmark FMCG licensing foray, Dream Theatre’s Parle Biscuits tie-up saw Tom and Jerry Parle Milk Shakti taking biscuit shelves by storm – the launch was promoted with a customised animation Tom and Jerry TVC and followed up with the introduction of double cream flavours echoing Tom and Jerry brand DNA. WWE superstars continued their dream run across licensed merchandise in 2014 as well.

A theme here to stay is local content that scored yet again and Chotta Bheem continued to rule TV and launched merchandise in slew of categories. Dream Theatre too jumped on the local content space with Kid Krrish  and will be launching a slew of products under the Indian animation banner with Kid Krrish, starting with publishing via its tie-up with Harper Collins, which is in stores now.

Another significant trend within Entertainment licensing in India was the strong presence of Japanese animation. Doraemon continues to be a strong show on TV, but the biggest surprise package of the year was the grand re-entry of Pokemon on India Television. Dream Theatre entered the Content Syndication space with its tie-up with Hungama TV.  A  robust programming and promotion strategy has  made Pokemon the best launched show of 2014 and its stellar ratings 16 weeks running has made it one of the biggest shows on Indian Television.

I have always mantained that we in India, have tow of the the three “tickmarks” for Licensing growth. We have a vibrant entertainment economy and our consuming class is significant. However, organized retail growth is still limited and not servicing the fans! E-commerce, this year has been a significant catalyst to licensing growth and fueled by private equity money: it is bound to grow further!

In conclusion, while the above genres will continue to grow in 2015, 2014 has set the ball rolling for newer genres of licensing, building blocks of which are being put in place. Fashion, Lifestyle, Publishing licensing will be 2015 news makers and with the best to come in Retail and E-commerce, Licensing will be one of the most watched and exciting sectors of 2015. By: Jiggy George, Founder and CEO, Dream Theatre Pvt Ltd.

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