Mumbai: Smiles are contagious, and no one knows this better than Nicolas Loufrani, who in 1997, created the first-ever 3D smiley. Two decades on, his Smiley Company, which is known for nearly 1,000 emojis and smileys that people share on social media, has big plans for India, which it sees as a market with immense potential.
Says Mr. Loufrani, CEO, “I am here, which indicates that India is at the top of my priorities. We are seeking new partners for more collaborations.”
The Smiley Company will enter new categories here, and foresees volumes coming in from FMCG, fashion, toys, school products, home decor and footwear. The company is already into fashion products in India through its licencees Lifestyle Departmental stores and Archies Gift shops. Mr. Loufrani says the company will introduce new collections in India from its global portfolio. “We want to grow four-fold in three years here to a retail revenue of to $20 million from $5 to 6 million.”
Last year, the company appointed Dream Theater as its representative to enter into new partnerships. Jiggy George, Founder & CEO, says the licensing industry is at an early stage in India but is poised to grow exponentially. “Our strategy is to be present at more retail chains and forge alliances with fashion and lifestyle brands.”
The Smiley Company is one of the top 100 licensing companies in the world, with over 310 licensees globally. The Smiley trademark is registered in over 100 countries. According to a recent Toluna survey, it has 97% recognition across the world as a symbol of positivity. “Last year, our licensees sold over $400 million worth of products globally across 13 different industries.”
The idea, says Mr. Loufrani, is to “spread smiles throughout the world.”
“When I started developing the digital smiley in 1997 and started the official smiley dictionary in 2001, I had said it was the birth of a universal language. My slogan then was to create a new form of communication that people could use to bring more emotions into their communication and replace words with the images.”