Licensing: The secret weapon in an Indian marketer’s arsenal
Source: WARC Exclusive, May 2021
Licensing offers Indian brands many opportunities but Dream Theatre’s Jiggy George says it is ignored by leadership teams and their strategy.
Indian marketers can use licensing as a way to test the market and launch in non-core categories.
Through licensing, Indian consumers can tap into the brand promise and reputation of the mother brand.
Successful licensed brands reflect years of investment and the core brand’s performance.
Why it matters
The global licensing industry is estimated at nearly US$300 billion with an annual growth rate of 12% but most Indian marketers have not explored this option because companies in India prefer to produce and market themselves versus partner via licensing.
Licensing is an excellent tool for Indian brand owners to protect their IP and reinforce branding while reaching new consumers.
At the same time, licensees save as no resources are needed for brand building with a market-ready brand.
The sophisticated online medium in India offers the best solution for licensing with better control of piracy.
Are you an Indian marketer with a strong brand that has brand extension possibilities in categories outside of your core business? Licensing could be your answer to bridge this challenge.
Why create a new team and distribution when you could license the brand to someone who has these capabilities and intent?
For years, I thought it would be great to see the Indian mega-brand Amul license its distinct flavor of butter to a cookie manufacturer and launch Amul cookies. Then, Amul decided to do it in-house, perhaps due to it being an extension of the brand’s food business and because of its distribution network.
It’s not to fault Amul’s management decision but it could have considered partnering in this category with an established player like ITC foods or Parle and keeping their focus on dairy products.
Licensing is one of the potent tools in the arsenal of a marketer that checks many boxes, beyond the obvious one of revenue generation. I also believe it’s a closely guarded secret that has not unlocked its potential in India as it’s not in the MBA curriculum or on the menu cards of marketers.
I call it a closely guarded secret as there is more than meets the eye. Consumer durables like a hairdryer, toaster, headphones or perfumes are usually licensed products. Consumers unaware of this are tapping into the brand promise and reputation of the mother brand. It’s also the outcome of years of investments made by brand owners in their core business. So the brand owner invests in building its core business and licenses the possibilities outside the core.
This is also true for entertainment brands. Lines get blurred as properties may start with one medium and move to others. They could have started from comics (like DC and Marvel), movies (Lucas and Star Wars), books (Harry Potter), toys (He-man), games (Pokémon) or design (Hello Kitty). Regardless, the fact is that owners have made investments worth millions of dollars in the content to then make extensions for their brand and leverage consumer products via licensing.
The more successful licensed brands reflect years of investment and performance of their core brand. It’s akin to sport – we are less likely to be bothered by a million endorsements/extensions from a sportsmanlike Virat Kohli as long as he keeps winning on the field. This is also the reason why Air Jordans are timeless and so too Kanye West and his brand Yeezy with Adidas. The design aesthetic is great but it’s unlikely to have worked if their body of work was not inspiring. We are tapping into the trust and performance of the “mother ship”.
Understanding the concept better
Simplistically, licensing is like a simple lease agreement. The owner of a brand (licensor) leases the intellectual property to a third party (licensee) for a designated time and geography and for a fee. This fee is usually like royalty on sales and a minimum guarantee model.
The global licensing industry was estimated at US$292.8 billion in 2019 at retail and is growing at 12%annually.Therearemanykindsoflicensing.Fromcorporatelicensing(likesofCoca-Cola,HarleyDavidson,Ford) to collegiate licensing (Harvard, Yale, etc).
Indiaranks18thintheworldwithUS$1,864millionatretailwitha0.6%share.Characterentertainment,corporate, and fashion are its top three categories.
Besides the obvious benefits of revenue, licensing allows marketers to test market their brand in geographies before they actually spend resources for a full-fledged launch. It allows marketers to protect their IP and reinforce their brand positioning. It also allows a brand owner to extend its offering to new target consumers, for example, many cannot afford an Amani suit or Fendi bag but they can buy the perfume.
Similarly, one may not be able to purchase an MF Hussain or Raza artwork but a mug embellished with the splendour of their designs would be our cup of tea.
Licensing also reinforces brand equity and authenticity. Bourbon brand Jack Daniels extending into chocolates or barbecue sauces is an example.
Beyond all of this, licensing is the transference of emotions of trust, pride, and humour of the mother brand to the licensed offering. This explains why sporting teams license their brand into merchandise and why fans sport them with pride.
For a licensee, it saves them the resources of brand building by leaning on a market-ready brand.
Why has India not fully realised the value of licensing?
I believe most marketers have not explored licensing as a possibility in their marketing plan. With corporate brands, there are many opportunities and it’s largely a function of the leadership teams and their strategy. Indian companies prefer to produce and market themselves versus partner via licensing. It’s rarely in their consideration set.
So an iconic brand like Royal Enfield in India produces all their non-biking gear, apparel and helmets with an in- house team while Harley Davidson uses licensing to globally extend its brand.
Unless it’s a tactical promotional tool – why not stick to your core business and license non-core to strong licensees who will create great products and distribute to the target audience? Then use marketing effectively to build on marketing events and legitimise the merchandise?
My belief is that very few brands have the luxury of self-activating in all their relevant categories.
I would further clarify by saying that one should build brand extensions via self-activation if it’s in the same business of food, personal products or fashion.
Again, this is a decision based on how big the categories are and how much resourcing should be thrown into this extension. Some fashion brands have acknowledged licensing in categories like fashion accessories, recognising the value of focusing their in-house teams, COGs, marketing and operations on their core apparel. Brands like Levis and Pepe license innerwear and accessories to licensees who produce and distribute under license.
Dream Theatre’s consulting project for Bennett & Coleman looked at extending their publishing assets into other categories. With valuable inputs from their editorial teams and business head, we built the architecture for the brands, licensed Femina to Shoppers Stop that now carries apparel and fashion accessories in over 60 stores. The team has now ventured into salons.
On FMCG, we have seen some food licensing of Cadbury’s Oreo with ice cream.
Opportunities for effective licensing in corporate and fashion
If one looks at the opportunity for India’s entertainment-licensed brands, the good news is that India ticks two of the three boxes for a successful licensing business. First, Indian consumers know about entertainment, corporate, fashion and even collegiate brands.
We have a vibrant entertainment economy and it’s fairly inexpensive to consume entertainment brands. It’s fairly affordable for consumers to access a gamut of channels, with smartphones now providing even more access to brands.
Another factor influencing our knowledge of brands is travel, with more Indians travelling for leisure than ever before pre-COVID-19.
Second, our consuming class in India is significant.
However, the third component of this three-legged stool is still half-baked – retail.
There is a direct correlation between the growth of organised retail and the growth of licensing as a business. Most retail in India is disorganised, with scattered mom-and-pop stores that make licensing challenging and limit it.
Firstly, most of this scattered trade has restrictions of size and don’t present the best environment for licensed products, ie display and range.
It’s challenging due to a lack of addressability and lots of royalties are underreported; the business is much larger than is reported by licensees.
The third challenge is piracy, which is linked to the lack of addressability.
In India, it’s also unlikely that you will find pirated products in any organised retail outlets but only because the footprint is still very limited.
Online in India is very sophisticated and better than many countries in the world. It offers a “last mile” reach to fans and is the best solution for licensing.
However, online majors are more incentivised to increasing resellers versus protecting IPs. Most brands face huge piracy online and the takedown of pirated products by the platforms leaves much to be desired. In fact, it’s more challenging to prove that you are a legitimate brand on a platform like Amazon and Flipkart than listing a pirated product as a reseller/distributor.
The genesis of online retail and the growth of this business in India has been fuelled by private equity money. The goal was to build a habit with Indian consumers through discounting versus convenience. Being value seekers, Indians have been enjoying these discounts and services and this has placed a big burden on the producers of merchandise (prospective licensees). The pricing makes it challenging to load royalties. If price is most important and if piracy is rampant even on the online platforms, then pirates win.
The market has also not grown due to a lack of investment of brand owners. Most of the licensors believe that just because their brands resonate in major markets like the US and Europe, they should work in India without effort. This is true for some brands with global investments in India but for the rest, it’s a lazy strategy.
Most of these owners make no effort to protect their IP or marketing. For them, it’s the classic chicken-or-egg dilemma: if the market is still not giving huge returns, why focus resources?
There is little effort to bring down piracy (especially online which seems more in their control) or legitimise strong licensees via any support.
In all of this, there is always hope. The brand owners who invest early and deep will capitalize, akin to the Japanese and Korean companies that have stayed invested in many Indian businesses. It’s too big a market to ignore and organised retail will continue to grow and so will addressability. The prominent licensors will invest and push platforms to legitimise their offering. More important, they will be forced to have a flexible and differentiated strategy in this market.
More corporate marketers will see licensing as a better tool to test the market and launch in non-core categories. Focus will be a key consideration where brands stick to categories in which they have the expertise and optimal resources. Less will be more, where they capitalise on their brand value by using licensing as an effective tool to reach their target audience.
It’s only a matter of time.
Founder & CEO, Dream Theatre
Jiggy – who is also the head of the India chapter of Licensing International, the global trade organisation for the licensing business – previously held senior management positions in Turner Broadcasting and Viacom, where he set up the licensing business for both companies.
He started his career as a fashion designer and entertainment journalist. He has a master’s degree in management studies and significant experience in sales (TimesofIndia), marketing (MTV and Pogo), licensing (MTV, Cartoon Network and Warner Bros), and project management (Turner and Sesame Street).
Brand management and licensing firm Dream Theatre has bagged the rights to develop the licensing business of Liverpool Football Club in India and South Asia.
Jiggy George, Founder & CEO, Dream Theatre, said that the Liverpool Football Club has a passionate fan base in India and South Asia. “We will forge long-term partnerships with licensees and retailers to offer authentic licensed products to fans,” he added.
Besides India, the company has also got the mandate to develop the club’s licensing business in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
“At Dream Theatre, we have three key verticals — entertainment, sports, and lifestyle. With the growth in the Indian market, the sports vertical has become a significant part of the business. We are thrilled to add Liverpool Football Club to our portfolio and are aiming for a 25 percent increase in our sports portfolio,” he added.
The company plans to launch a range of licensed products in various categories such as apparel, sporting goods, and accessories.
George said, “Our main focus will be apparel and we will work with solid partners who have the wherewithal across product, distribution, and marketing. We will also look at other lifestyle-related categories of footwear, innerwear, bags, personal-care and sporting goods. But our core proposition will be built around a strong apparel portfolio.”
The licensed Liverpool merchandise will be available at leading retail stores and on e-commerce portals.
Dream Theatre represents various brands such as the Smiley Company, Sanrio, Real Madrid, The Pokémon Company and Rovio for licensing and merchandising in India and South Asia.
Jacqueline Fernandez and Mojostar have unveiled the active wear brand exclusively on Amazon Fashion for Prime Day.
Jacqueline Fernandez along with Mojostar recently unveiled the Just F collection exclusively on Amazon Fashion for the eagerly awaited Prime Day! Just F will be available on Amazon Fashion for pre-booking on 16th July on the occasion of Prime Day with an official launch on 17th July.
Comprising innovative, trendy, and stylish active wear outfits for the modern Indian woman, the Just F collection offers over 100 styles on Amazon Fashion curated and handpicked by Jacqueline that includes sports bras, tops, shorts and skirts, tights and tracks, dresses, sweatshirts and jackets. The brand aims to democratize modern active wear for women without compromising on quality, and has priced all its products between INR 1,299 and INR 3,499.
Just F is a women-focused active wear brand, designed and created with the modern Indian woman in mind. It puts women and what they want at the core and looks at fitness and active wear from their perspective, rather than the lens of the men’s domain. A key differentiator is Just F’s approach to construction, sizing, and styling. All Just F products are specifically designed for the Indian female body type and are imbued with crossover styling to bring fun back into the mix, even as it helps women fashionably achieve their fitness goals.
Speaking on the product launch, Jacqueline Fernandez, Co-creator and Co-owner – Just F, said, “I am super excited to bring Just F to the doorsteps of women from all across the country with Amazon Fashion! The timing couldn’t have been better as everyone is looking forward to the second edition of Prime Day. The core idea behind Just F is to highlight that fitness can be fun, fashionable, and unabashedly feminine.” Sharing her thoughts on the exclusive Amazon Fashion partnership, Jacqueline further said, “Women professionals, especially those hailing from urban areas, are extremely comfortable with shopping online. Given that e-commerce is the primary launch medium for the brand, partnering with Amazon Fashion will make Just F products more conveniently accessible and available.”
Jiggy George, Managing Director & Founding Partner – Mojostar, added, “Active wear in India is still largely serving the needs of male consumers, both via product offering and communication. Just F fills this gap by presenting a stylish, fun, yet functional proposition that places women first. The products have been designed keeping in mind the specific needs of our target audience – their body type, fitness goals, and active lifestyles. Our exclusive partnership with Amazon, with its pan-India presence and robust logistics network, will only serve to amplify Just F’s reach.”
Commenting on the launch, Arun Sirdeshmukh, Head – Amazon Fashion said, “Post receiving an overwhelming response on our handpicked selection of fashion brands during Prime Day last year, we are committed to bring together an even more exciting line-up this year. We are delighted to launch the much awaited Just F by Jacqueline Fernandez exclusively on Amazon Fashion for our Prime members across the country. The new customers shopping on Amazon Fashion are definitely in for an extravaganza with Jacqueline’s signature brand coming to their doorsteps with free Prime enabled next day delivery.”
India…India….India…India. That is something you won’t be hearing in this 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Coming to the sore point about our country’s participation in the global event, even though we have a population of more than 1.3 Billion of which more than 50% fall under the age of 25. It baffles me why we cannot have a team capable enough to make it all the way. Again, I am not trying to demean the efforts of the existing players and in no way suggesting they are incompetent. It is more to do with the environment and facilities that are almost non-existent. We have never been part of any world cup although the team did qualify by default in 1950 after all the other nations in our qualification group withdrew. However, we withdrew prior to the beginning of the tournament.
There has been some progress lately and we are seeing a shift in sports preference from the newer generation and thanks to the huge investments in football by Reliance, the ISL has grown considerably popular and viewership has increased year on year. The audience with the exposure to the various European leagues fixtures and UEFA’s various formats have accepted football as a viewing sport and the matches have made itself a talking point amongst youngsters, with each one choosing a team which they associate. The fan base for each team has considerably increased especially the teams from England and Spain and the largest followers being for Real Madrid which stands at 77.3 Million across all digital platforms.
FIFA brings in great interest in football and most fans are for Argentina and Brazil, with Portugal, England, Germany, Spain and Italy being the other countries. We see great enthusiasm and match screenings are the new way to catch up with friends. The world cup truly gets people together irrespective of your country’s participation and this particularly holds true for us. SET India the broadcast partners for the world cup has used this as a campaign idea and created an amazing connect with the audience using the idea “Meri Doosri Country”.
Russia 2018 will be a defining world cup for two of greatest legends to grace the field; Messi and Ronaldo. It will probably be their last world cup and both with their respective teams will try their very best to lift the golden trophy. One team that will be missed is Italy and it is still something the fans need to overcome. The world cup has always seen Italy’s participation and this will be the first time in 60 years that the Azzuris have not qualified considering they are 4 time champions and have players of exceptional quality. Of the other teams Brazil is always the crowd favourite because of the way they play, its pure magic. They will this time be out for revenge against Germany for the humiliating defeat they suffered at home turf in 2014. Germany the current holders will try to do a double. The team looks in good shape apart from a few ageing players. My dark horse is the Belgian side A.K.A Red Devils. They are the side to watch out as they have players with exceptional talent and good both in attack and defence. Let us hope to see a fantastic battle between the teams and I am hoping my doosri country wins.
On the merchandise front we have been witnessing this change from early 2013, when we first decided to take a shot at the FIFA world cup 2014. We were unsure of how a cricket crazy country would react to the merchandise though we knew that as an aspirational sport the merchandise would sell coupled with the interest in football. Our bet paid off and we did some unbelievable sales. This gave us confidence to look at football offerings more closely. We now have Real Madrid and of course FIFA 2018 merchandise in the market with more categories activated.
2018 FIFA World Cup Russia has a whole host of authentic licensed merchandise ranging from Apparel to Bags, Sippers, Footballs, Footwear, gifts and novelties and more with prices beginning at INR 299. The Alcis 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia fan wear range comprises over 550 products with T-Shirts, Polo T-shirts, Shorts, Track pants, Tracksuits, Hoodies, Jackets, Sweatshirts, Jerseys and Caps. The range starts at INR 399. The merchandise is available from 1000+ apparel stores and large format stores like Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop, Max Retail, Central, Globus, Sports Station along with leading e-commerce platforms.
So while you will be watching the biggest sporting event from 14th of this month, do show your love for the assortment of merchandise we have put out for you. Help us create more fanatics and support our cause, which is none except it makes good business.
If you have a smartphone savvy kid at home, chances are that not only they know about Talking Tom but are big fans of the app! The first ‘ Talking Tom’ app was launched in 2010 and the franchise has grown since, expanding from a series of apps to a global entertainment franchise with . An interactive brand that can engage in two way conversations with users, the app has been downloaded 3.6 billion+ times and counting across 230 countries – a true testimony to its growth in popularity!
Dream Theatre represents Outfit 7’s digital brand Talking Tom and Friends in India and South Asia and is working on rolling out a slew of products across like sleepwear, kids wear, accessories, back to school, bags, games and puzzles. The app will soon be available on Viacom’s Video On Demand platform VOOT as well.
Watch this space for more exciting news and to know how you can partner with us for Talking Tom and Friends to grow your brand and business, write to us on: email@example.com
As a part of the Spring Summer Pokémon collection, more than 250 products will be available across stores Pokémon products will be available across stores in India and all leading online market places. The range boasts of Back-to-School which includes School Bags, Pencil Cases, Lunch Boxes, and Stationery. It also has a cool collection cross Kids Apparel, Swing Scooters and a line of Camlin’s Pokémon Products comprising sketch pens, mechanical pencils and oil pastels.
In addition, grown up fans of Pokémon can lay their hands on some really cool Pokémon phone covers very soon!
With its second innings on Hungama TV started in May 2014, Pokémon has become talk of the town not only on screen, but also on retail shelves. As a part of the retail strategy, we have coined a successful licensing strategy where Pokémon’s Indian licensees have launched a wide range of products and collections for Spring Summer 2016.
Promotional licensing is a fast catching trend in the industry. It’s a marketing agreement between a manufacturer and a celebrity to use his or her image in promoting a product.
Here’s a buy and get free promo of SM Foods snacks Peppy and Cheese balls through a licensing agreement with Warner Bros. characters Tom and Jerry. With this tie-up with SM Foods Peppy and Cheese balls, kids can make these characters Tom and Jerry a part of their lives at consumer-friendly price point of Rs. 10 and Rs. 5
Buy a cheese balls/peppy snack pack and get tom and jerry tattoo for free.
Outfit7 Ltd and Dream Theatre Pvt Ltd announced their partnership for taking Talking Tom and Friends to greater heights and to have access to licensed merchandise in India.
Talking Tom and Friends has seen enormous success in its four-year lifecycle, having extended from a series of apps to a global entertainment franchise. The first “Talking Tom” app was launched four years ago and the franchise has grown exponentially since. Outfit7 recently announced that the apps have been downloaded over 2 billion times.
With this partnership, Dream Theatre Pvt. Ltd. has added another digital powerhouse brand to their existing success in this space. Dream Theatre will have deals spanning across multiple categories including apparel, sleepwear, kids wear, accessories, back to school, bags, games and puzzles in India. The licensed merchandise will be available at leading retail chain stores, department stores and standalone outlets, along with popular e-commerce portals.
Samo Login, Co-Founder and CEO of Outfit7 Ltd, said, “This is an exciting time for the Talking Tom and Friends franchise, with a movie and a new 3D CGI animated series on the way, not to mention the recent 2 billion downloads milestone. We are looking forward to working with Dream Theatre to bring Talking Tom and Friends licensed merchandise to our fans in India.”
“We are very excited to be working with Outfit7’s brand Talking Tom and Friends and look forward to leveraging its popularity in India via quality merchandise”, said Jiggy George, Founder and CEO of Dream Theatre Pvt. Ltd.