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Exclusive | Expanding footprints: Viacom's Bhowmik

Taking the philosophy of accomplishing the needs and demands of the ever growing consumer products space with its diverse portfolio ahead, Viacom18 Consumer Products conducted an their first Annual Trade Fair showcasing its line-up of products including the new acquisition and partnerships too. Very recently with an aim to strengthen its sports and lifestyle portfolios, Viacom18 Consumer Products acquired the master licensing rights in India for the iconic FC Barcelona and Italian fashion brand Winx Club under its new flagship partnerships with FC Barcelona Merchandize (FCBM) and Rainbow International for the respective properties.

Known to cut beyond the conventional categories and giving the consumers the best of its brands such as MTV, Vh1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central along with a growing portfolio of non Viacom18 brands, Viacom18 Consumer Products once again gives a treat for Barca fans in the country with their FCBM deal that would enable the business to design, produce and market the iconic FC Barcelona in India.

Barca fans can now buy everything from FC Barcelona apparel to sports gear in India itself. The FCB product portfolio will consist of about over 200 SKU’s to start with and will be available at all leading online retail websites and retail stores across India.

To know more Adgully caught up with Saugato Bhowmik, Senior Vice President, Consumer Products, Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd.. Speaking about the partnership, he said, “We have expanded our footprints from just a pre-school segment Dora to all segments like  lifestyle, sports etc to include  categories like apparels, shoes, back-to-school, toys, bags, stationary etc. This partnership enables us to further extend our footprints from merchandising for network owned brands to acquiring master license rights for iconic brands across the world. The vision and mission is to make Viacom18 Consumer Products, a house of iconic brands.”

Growth Pillars:

Viacom18 Consumer Products, comprising of over 50+ categories, have launched more than 5000 Stock Keeping Units touching 10,000 + retail points since its commencement in 2006. Mentioning about the growth pillars, he said, “I believe our strategic brand extensions in products and ecosystem and our strategic philosophy of only having long term licensed relations is what has made us reach the position that we are in. Also in the coming future the main focus shall remain on e-commerce which is expected to be a game changer. ”

Explaining further on what made them reach this stature, Bhowmik said, “We give first priority to the ‘quality’ of our products, make an exciting visual appeal and then create interesting engagement with our consumers and this is what that has led us to this position.”

Building Properties:

Viacom 18 Consumer Products have had a long list of great brands and consumer products in their kitty and Bhowmik believes that every property has its own brand strategies and ways of reaching out to its consumers hence the team has always let each property build itself on its own DNA and strength. 

He said, “Like with the mother of kids brand Dora, which has been our premium property and has always given best results, we will continue to build our existing categories by maximizing width and depth of distribution and will be focusing on continuous integrations, activations and partnerships.”

Also interestingly, ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ and Ninja Mutant Ninja Turtles that straddles both youth and kids has also made its debut on Comedy Central.  “We have seen a lot of buzz on these properties among kids and Youth both hence we thought of taking it to Comedy Central too. Extending that, we will be moving on with new, quirky, bold and colorful range of apparels etc of these properties,” he explained.  

Another property that will be seen quite aggressively in the market will be Motu Patlu and Ninja Hathori which are Viacom 18’s one of the most iconic properties. Bhowmik stated, “We will be taking these properties all the more closer to our consumers with merchandizes in all the categories including eyewear, apparel, footwear, plush, Back-to-school etc. Another focus area will be promotional licensing.”

Viacom 18 Consumer Products acquired another interesting and a well-known property that is ‘Jungle Book’. Explaining the plans on the same, Bhowmik said, “Though this property is not new for Indian kids and consumers, we will be maximizing the brand’s reach to tier 2 and 3 cities with books, apparel, and back-to-school range of products.”

The new babies in the portfolio:

Adding scale to its range, Viacom18 Consumer Products has also acquired exclusive licensing rights from Rainbow International for the iconic Italian fashion brand Winx Club. “Always rich in content and increasingly sophisticated in terms of its animation quality, the Winx fairies are a blend of traditional and contemporary,” he said.  Aiming to make it the most popular fashion brand in India for young girls, the merchandise will include toys and a contemporary apparel line;available across the biggest offline and online retails stores by early next calendar year.   

Well, undoubtedly the FCB deal is expected to be as one the great steps in taking Viacom18’s Consumer Product segment much more closely and to a wider target audience. Explaining the plans for strengthening the merchandize, Bhowmik said, “It is an expensive property and will be placed above the market.  The aim is to create high quality aspiration premium merchandizes for the current fans and to also create collaboration from the grass root level. To give a push to football as a
game in India we will be partnering with FCB academy in India. This partnership too is a win-win situation for both of us as they have the tools and techniques while we have the reach. We will together work towards popularizing both the FCB club and the sport.” 

Sports merchandize industry:

Bhowmik believes that sports merchandize industry is an extremely progressive segment and has a high growth potential. “Sports merchandising has been a key focus category for us hence we have partnered with FCBM to acquire the rights for one of the most widely loved football teams in the world,” he stated.

As mentioned by Bhowmik the overall category is growing at the rate of 20 to 25 percent year on year but Football out of that is growing at a much faster rate.

Explaining the distribution model, Bhowmik said, “Our model will stick to modern retail versus traditional retail which makes a 30% is to 70% ratio respectively. We will make sure that our products are available in more than ten thousand stores in the coming few months and simultaneously will be making them available on possible e-commerce platforms.” 

Leveraging Youth Category:

MTV Consumer Products have successfully built a strong connect with youth by venturing in 18+ conventional as well as unconventional categories like Innerwear for Men & Women, Adventure Bikes, Eye-wear, Bags, Body Sprays & EDTs, Consumer Electronics, Mobile Phones & Tablets, Cosmetics and much more.

Adding further, Bhowmik said, “Very soon we will be launching our youth product portfolio exclusively on Flipkart. The new range of products is launched with a base thought line of ‘Music on the go’.”

Investments:
On the investment front Bhowmik said, “Investments have already been made by the network in creating these properties. A lot of money is involved in creating content, making these properties go live on the channel and then popularizing them. Our aim is to utilize that popularity and name to tie-up with merchandisers and come out with these kinds of products.” Though figures and investments were not discussed directly but Bhowmik mentioned the fact that with each brand investments vary.

Focus:

Focus will remain on ramping up the growth of the segment. He said, “We shall be looking at harnessing Viacom 18’s networksolutions and fill in the gap in the portfolio. We are focused towards increasing our SKUs from 500 to 2000 plus and shall be launching a lot more products in the market.”  The team shall be seen leveraging the TV and digital platforms quite literally and the focus will remain in strengthening each of their properties may it be Dora or Power rangers or Ninja Turtles etc. The focus will also be on getting more home grown properties but a healthy mix of home-grown properties and international acquisitions will be seen in the coming future.

These partnerships are surely key milestones in Viacom18’s endeavor to fortify their position as a house of global brands. By Aanchal kohli | Twitter: @aanchalkohli

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