Mumbai-based AI Licensing India, which is into content licensing, merchandising and syndication of famous international characters and brands, has added a new business unit to its portfolio called Xperium, with an aim to create elevated customer experiences.
For the past four decades, Animation International (AI) holds the exclusive licensing and merchandising rights for Doraemon in Asia and Middle East. Each country’s operational office manages the character, depending upon its popularity and market’s growth potential, to give better return on investment for the brand owner.
In addition to Doraemon, AI Licensing India, which started its operations in the country in 2005, also holds the license for brands like Shin Chan, Garfield, Archie Comics, Hallmark Design collection, Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin.
Currently, AI Licensing India has four business verticals, of which licensing drives the maximum business revenue, amounting to almost 60%. “Exports has emerged as a big area of operations in the past year and half since we entered it. We also have a creative studio where we design a lot of products in-house, not just for our own IPs but for other IPs too, which has turned out to be another independent business model for us,” said Nitin Kalra, director, AI Licensing India
He added that the company was the first to get into event licensing in India in an organized manner. “In 2010, we became the first agency in the country to suggest to malls that our characters can help them generate more footfalls, which in turn can help them generate more business. This philosophy was well accepted and since then, we are have never done any event for free, setting an industry precedent,” Nitin proudly claimed.
Xperium takes this concept a step further as an experiential licensing vertical, by linking AI Licensing India’s other business verticals. It constantly works with partners who create products based on brand licenses that are issued to it for a time frame of two to three years. These companies pay royalties on the products created, for instance, merchandise like apparel, mugs, bags, etc.
Additionally, AI Licensing India also works with FMCG companies like ITC, Dabur, Kellogg’s and McDonalds India for short-term tactical promotional campaigns, where it ideates on the marketing strategy based on the chosen licensed brand or character. “This idea is becoming popular as each brand is looking for a trigger to attract more customers. For instance, animated characters have a great pull factor when it comes to product sales,” Nitin pointed out.
Realizing that AI Licensing India was consistently involved in elevating customer experience, it conceptualized Xperium as a division that would create events around its characters, which would help its affiliated companies to sell a lot of merchandise. “We created the ‘100 Doraemon Secret Gadget Expo’, which toured eight cities globally and had 100 life-size figurines of the cartoon character, each inspired by different episodes. We sold around 1.5 million tickets within three months of the expo and also noticed a spike in merchandise sale. That’s when we realized that the total amount of merchandise we could sell in one year in Malaysia is the same that we sold in three days of focused selling,” Nitin said.
It was this awareness that prompted the company to found Xperium to create concepts and engagement programs for its customers, starting with the 50th anniversary celebration titled ‘Date with Doraemon’ in 2020. This 50-city campaign will be rolled out in 2019, offering different companies selective engagement activities and brand activation opportunities. The first event will be in April 2019, where brands can engage with selective 100 to 150 people for couple of hours.