The Indian industry, over the years, has warmed up to the idea of licensing. The fact that it is moving to new genres and shifting focus from kids to adults, owing to shows like Game of Thrones, Batman, Superman and host of other big franchises is a testament to this. At the helm of the licensing industry is Jiggy George, Head of The International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association and Founder of Dream Theatre. Exchange4media caught up with George who shared his insight on the licensing industry, the reasons behind IPs not being able to leverage success in the merchandising front and more.
How has the journey been with Dream Theatre and how has venturing into jewellery and digital licensing helped the brand?
As a company, we have always been in the forefront of driving change. We’ve been growing the market from being a kids-and entertainment market to a more encompassing one. We’re driving the strategy for Angry Birds which was India’s first successful digital property, not based in the TV, to become one of the hottest licensing properties in India with a slew of products and FMCG promotions. We also explored new areas of licensing like a jewellery collaboration with Mrinalini Chandra for Candy Crush – a collaboration that brought together a new age digital property with India’s jewellery legacy using craft techniques like Meenakari and Jaali. In yet another first, we represent two YouTube phenomenon, ChuChu TV and Gummy Bear for global rights.
Being the pioneer in the industry, can you tell us about the kind of growth that the licensing sector has witnessed? How much is the industry pegged at?
It’s a sea change! The pre-licensing era was the pirated, parallel imports days without any active legitimate licensees or play in the market. And today, along with Brazil and China, we are the emerging market of the world in licensing, valued at US $1396 million of retail sales as of 2016. It’s a market teeming with opportunities across multiple licensing genres and a solid base of property owners, licensors, representative agents, licensees, retailers and allied firms at play.
While there is a latent demand for products, has retail addressed the penetration and have knock offs reduced?
One of the tick marks for licensing to success in any market is organized retail and this is one place India lags behind woefully. Organized retail is still less than 10 per cent of the market and therefore there is a massive gap in demand and supply of authentic licensed products. The result is piracy. India now has a strong set up of licensees which are able to create world class products at prices that work for India, but we still have a long way to go to reach every consumer and every fan. E-commerce has managed to address this to some extent; licensing will really flourish with the growth of retail.
What are the reasons behind IPs not being able to leverage success on the merchandising front?
India has had some great success stories with home grown IPs like Chota Bheem which also has a very successful licensing program. While there are some massive hits of local IPs on TV, most of them have not been able to leverage the same success on the merchandising front. Licensing needs a long term vision and strategy and needs to be a part of the blueprint when a property is being created.
More often than not what we see in India is that after a property becomes a hit on TV, its quickly extended into licensing as an afterthought. For instance, Dream Theatre is the global licensing partner for ChuChu TV, but before embarking on the licensing journey, we worked closely with the team to set the vision, the strategy and got the property license ready. This deep dive into planning the licensing objectives, life -cycle and the strategy is what most Indian IPs lack and are therefore not able to reach their full potential.
How does licensing help in elevating campaign presence?
Licensing based campaigns are clutter breaking and effective. We are so used to seeing the same principles and communication strategies at play for years that they are now falling on blind spots. Using licensing to align the communication message or product DNA can really help create stand-out communication, more-so in the digital space and this is one area which marketers and agencies need to push harder. Licensing has delivered solid results in promotional licensing across FMCG players versus same old generic promotions and it has the same potential for delivering the message and achieving the objectives for marketing.
What is the way forward for Dream Theatre and your recent venture Mojostar?
For Dream Theatre, we see massive potential of the overall business in India and will continue to consolidate our leadership position in Entertainment, Sports and Lifestyle. 2018 will see a special focus on growing Lifestyle brands and DTRs in retail and a lot more engagement at retail. On the international front, we are in discussion with a few iconic properties which we will be announcing soon. Our quest for doing more, pushing the envelope, bringing the best of international to India and vice versa will continue through 2018.
In India, there is an obvious market opportunity for celebrity brands but the authentic approach to celebrity brand creation has not yet matured. And this is where Mojostar is laser focused and envisages creating three to four celebrity partnered brands in the next five years.