Sports Licensing in India – On field to Off field

Sports merchandising not only creates great value for the brand but also creates engagement with the FAN off the field.

The community of FANS not only defines the legacy of the brand but also its shelf life.  It can’t be truer for one of the biggest forms of licensing i.e SPORTS.

Globally, Sports Licensing is one of the biggest licensing categories for entertainment and has seen some hugely successful programs on Brand Extensions. There are typically 2 models that the teams/talent follow, and there have been successful case studies in both.  Sports Licensing is currently valued at USD 24.9 billion and is expected to make USD 48.17 billion by 2024.

Sports Teams are built by their fans or fanatics, as they are popularly referred to, because of their excessive enthusiasm for their favorite team or player, and the devotion towards them.

India has been an untapped market when it comes to sports licensing. As far as sports is concerned, India has traditionally been a cricket dominated country, however, that hasn’t really translated into a merchandise program, except for IPL team Jerseys, which are predominantly sold during match days, and face severe issues with fakes. With technology and a large youth population, there has been a considerable shift in the genre. The rising e-commerce and online sales have further positively impacted market growth.

Some things to look out for…

IPL Merchandise will gain momentum

rcb-merchandise-virat-kohliIPL has already completed a decade and some of the teams, which have maintained consistency in players, culture, communication & performance, have developed a large fan base and are completely license ready. With the right strategy, they can create a very successful and long-term consumer product program. At Black White Orange, we manage the licensing program for the RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore) & I’m happy to say that we’ve already initiated steps in the right direction. Hopefully, it’s a matter of time when others follow suit. With RCB, we’ve conceptualized the strategy, created an exhaustive style guide, found the right partners and products are now in stores! We’re planning to launch products across categories during & after the IPL this year. The support we’ve received from team RCB is immense & that goes a long way in projecting the right image & sustaining the brand.

International Sports Teams will expand their presence –

Football is becoming the preferred sport among youngsters and kids not just in viewership, but also in terms of play time. ISL has had a great start already. The success of the merchandise program is directly linked to the success of the league as well as consistent & competitive performances from the teams.

The NBA probably has one of the highest penetrations as a sport at school level, outside of cricket& are running a very successful grassroots level program. This strategy helps create a fan base at a young age, which starts consuming the brands and products very early.

Popular Sports Stars and their Extensions –

There has been a massive movement in this space with some of the top sports personalities venturing into their own line of products. The internationally co-branded line between sports personalities & brands has seen huge success with the biggest of them being Air Jordan with Nike. Messi and Ronaldo also have a similar line with Adidas and Nike respectively. Closer Home, Virat Kohli has led the way with the launch of WROGN & the recent addition One8, in collaboration with PUMA. Yuvraj Singh’s brand YOUWECAN that launched last year, has also been accepted well by the consumers.

Local Sports Leagues will be a big future

Sports outside of cricket are becoming a big draw and the success of Pro Kabbadi league and popularity of players like PV Sindhu, SainaNehwal& K Srikanth is a big testimony to that fact. There will definitely be some action in this space.

School & College Sports merchandise has massive untapped potential.

This is a 7 Billion dollar business in the US but completely unexplored in India, and as sports become a key part of School & College life, consumption of owning a piece of your school and college team is going to gain massive momentum.

Challenges in India;

Product Design Capability is a big challenge and creating high quality & aspirational creative assets, which translate well into products, is the key ingredient of a successful licensing program.

Indian brands should look at merchandising as a revenue model and not a marketing tool; it needs to invest in creating the right strategy, the right culture and the right infrastructure to get maximum value.

Counterfeit products pose a massive challenge for this business and immediate measures are required to curb this menace.

About the author:

black-white-orange-logoBhavik Vora, Founder & CEO, Black White Orange Brands Pvt. Ltd

A new-age start-up driven by experienced and passionate minds, Black White Orange provides merchandising solutions and helps brands, celebrities, media, and retailers find ways to strengthen their relationship with the most important stakeholder – the consumer. We offer services in retail, distribution, syndication, brand consulting & creative solutions, both within India & overseas.