Making heads turn! Ace jewelry designer Mrinalini Chandra

Following your heart in a world of conformities is inarguably an audacious act. That is exactly what Mrinalini Chandra is doing and making it large! Her debut collection called PLEASE HAVE A SEAT showcased in Lakme Fashion Week 2014 took the fashion fraternity by storm. It was a hit and marks a humongous breakthrough in her journey. 

With an urge to take handcrafted finesse to a new high, inspired by the the rich culture & poetic verses of India, trained in Fashion Luxury at the Creative Academy, Milan & NIFT, New Delhi, Mrinalini Chandra worked at Tanishq (New Delhi) and Montblanc (Germany) before launching her own label in India. She was also listed as one of Asia’s top jewelry designers by WGSN – the global trendspotting agency.

In 2017, Mrinalini collaborated with global iconic brand Candy Crush to launch an exclusive range of jewelry for women and men.

We are going to talk about all of this and more with her, a warm welcome to Mrinalini Chandra!

If you would like to listen to the interview instead of reading, scroll to the bottom and hit play!

ILP: You’ve been very busy with the Shaadi of the year – how did it feel like designing jewelry for your favorite muse Sonam Kapoor?

MC: It’s always an incredible experience to make anything for Sonam. She is the warmest person to work with and everything you make for her, she brings it to life. It is nice to see someone do justice to creativity. It was really nice to make the Kaleeras for her. She was the most resplendent bride ever; so real and traditional. In a world, where everyone is trying to be too modern and different, she stuck to the most traditional way of dressing as an Indian bride and she did all her ceremonies as they were meant to be in her Punjabi culture which was the part that I loved most about the wedding. It wasn’t about breaking any norms but doing something that she really believed in and doing it with utmost honesty. Kudos to her. 

ILP: Bollywood plays by a different set of rules. How does a girl from Lucknow with no “godfather” get a foothold in the industry?

MC: That’s a very tough question to answer. I feel that I am still figuring things out in my journey and when I look back, I feel I have come a long way. I have never aimed to be in this part of the industry. I have always thought of creating a better product every time I work on a project. From the very first product that I designed to the Candy Crush project, it was always about creating something better than the last time. So, for me, this has been a very exciting journey and I am lucky to have people in the industry, who see the beauty in it and have supported me as well. Of course, the journey has its ups and downs, but it sure has been a rollercoaster ride. I am blessed with a great support system: my family, my team and my incredibly gifted karigars. The high is that if you can create the visions you have in your mind with people who have not seen it but are willing to give the chance, I think that is the most satisfying feeling of being in this field. There is no substitute to hardwork. 

ILP: What does the brand Mrinalini Chandra stand for?

MC: I would like the brand to evolve into something stronger but I also want it to retain the qualities it has always had. The brand is all about evoking a sense of wonder. Every time I create something, I want people to be a little surprised by it. I want the brand to evolve into something classic – like a Dior or Chanel which becomes a part of your trousseau. If you buy earrings from me, even though they are not precious jewelry, but it is precious enough for you to relate to it, tell your story, keep your secret and pass it on to your next generation.

ILP: Since ILP is primarily about licensing, tell us about how artists, like yourself, view collaborations with global brands to reach different segments of the market or reach a completely new audience?

MC: I think it is a great way of giving an opportunity to new and upcoming talent. It helps you generate a visibility which is otherwise beyond your reach. I feel that is what luxury is all about. Someone sitting in Antwerp can place an order of something made with filigree. The best thing about collaborations is that brands from different horizons feel that there is compatibility and the result is always exciting. It brings together two cultures and people are up for newness.

ILP: Tell us about your experience partnering with global sensation Candy Crush. Jiggy George, Head, LIMA India & Founder & CEO – Dream Theatre called you one of the “most talented yet down to earth designers to work with”. What was your experience like?

MC: It was most exciting and fun experience working with on a collaboration with Candy Crush. It was not just about the collaboration but about the whole team and how it came together with everyone contributing to it in terms of not just putting in ideas but also putting their heart and spirit in it. That made it really very special to me. Since this collaboration has happened at an initial phase of my career, it has definitely been a milestone for me. I am very thankful for the faith that Mr. Jiggy George had put in me when I first met him and for him to think that this is worth investing in a young label like ours. My work is very craft oriented so for someone to see this possibility was truly visionary. I also think that the product that we made and the kind of responses that we have had, made a huge difference in the way that our label is now seen. 

 

ILP: Any particular collaboration on the global stage that piqued your curiosity?

MC: There have been a lot of collaborations that have caught my eye in the past. I like that major international sensations of brands collaborate with artists. I find this very fascinating. Of course, a lot of brands collaborate with models and singers but not much with artists as they have very strong opinions of certain things and brands have very strong ideologies which results in a bit of a clash. However, I like that because eventually both compromise and that, for me, is a collaboration in its true sense. I really like Louis Vuitton, which is a brand known to have very commercial products, collaborating with Jeff Koons which is a very different brand altogether.

Among Indian brands, the Manish Arora collaboration with MAC was really exciting. MAC is a brand known for its classic colors and not known for its fun and spunky nature whereas Manish is known for his out-of-box thinking. I loved the packaging in this collaboration.

ILP: We interviewed art aficionado Jasmine Shah Verma sometime back and she talked about her passion for taking art out of the galleries and to the masses via everyday objects like cutlery, lampshades etc. Do you think branded jewelry also holds the same potential?

MC: I think it definitely does. Also, because branded jewelery is wearable, and the potential of wearing it, the usage is much more. In fact the Hindu called my jewelry a “wearable installation” – which I really relate to. I like it more than being called a haute couture designer because of the high utility factor. I have clients who are known for their quirkiness. Its like they say it takes one to know one.

ILP: Tell us a little bit more about your product mix and distribution platforms.

MC: I started with basically every-day jewellery category moving towards the customized wedding range with not just the massive Kaleeras and but also wedding gift products. Customization is really becoming a hallmark for me because people want something different and I am more than happy to create it for them.

ILP: Do you face the problem of piracy of your designs?

MC: Yes, I do. India has very poor laws with copyright infringement. Labels, both established and younger ones, go this route and it breaks your heart. You do not know if you should take this as a compliment because you have put your heart and soul in creating something new. I feel with some new social media pages coming up, it is easier to shout out and point out piracy and it has noticed that people are in support of anti-piracy. That is very helpful and encouraging to us. I believe the consumer is not so unaware anymore, is more educated and smarter and because of social media exposure their knowledge is better. You cannot fool anyone so easily anymore.

ILP: Although the overall consumption of gold dipped last year vs the average over the past decade, India is still the 2nd highest consumer of gold behind China according to the World Gold Council. Are you looking at other precious or semi-precious metals to de-risk?

MC: Since I have started working, we have most commonly dealt with 24-karat, 22-karat and diamonds in 18-karat. Now what we see is, something very typical to Dubai, an offering from a 9-karat to a 14-karat which is becoming very prominent in India. In fact, I am myself working on a line like that. Silver jewelry has always been there. Precious stones are not so popular in India unless they are combined with white or yellow gold. Because platinum jewelry has a higher price point, I don’t see it working so much for women as much as wedding bands for men which would work. I do not see gold disappearing from an Indian market point of view. The younger women now still prefer gold but with a modern outlook. In a pret way, I see gold in 9 – 14 karat continuing to grow.

ILP: How do you balance art & commerce?

MC: That is the hardest thing I have ever had to do because when I am creating something I don’t want to think about how to monetize it. But sadly, I have to. Aditya, my husband, has taught me the importance of commerce and how to balance it with art.

ILP: Which designers do you draw inspiration from?

MC: In India, it would be Anamika Khanna. I have been a big fan of her since I was in college. I happened to interact with her just after my first show. She just stopped by to buy the products in the stall area. She said my products really caught her eye and commended me on it. That moment meant a lot to me. All her clothes are like an artwork which does not follow a regular pattern making process. I think she does draping on a mannequin and it comes off as an original. I don’t think she is a person who would compromise on the amount of work she wants to put in her designs which I really like and follow in my line of work as well. I would not like to compromise on my products. Sometimes the product gives minimal profit, but at the end of the day it is the client satisfaction that really matters.

On the international scene, I love many jewelry designers and follow their work. One of them if Jacqueline Ryan who takes her inspiration from Greens – its 3D jewelry. I’m not very clued into their personal lives, but I love their work and continue to follow them.

 

Winners of the 2018 LIMA International Licensing Awards announced at Las Vegas

AND THE WINNERS ARE…

The winners of the 2018 LIMA International Licensing Awards were unveiled this evening on the opening night of Licensing Expo in Las Vegas.

“This was an outstanding year for the LIMA Licensing Awards program. Not only did we receive a record 700 submissions, but 42% of the nominees originated from outside the US,” said LIMA President Charles Riotto. “Tonight’s winners truly exemplify the very best of our global industry. They are definitive leaders in their respective categories and across the entire licensing landscape.”

Winners were selected across 21 categories from a total of 132 nominees. The ceremony also honored the lifetime achievements of Hall of Fame inductees Elias Fasja-Cohen, CEO and Founder of Tycoon Enterprises, and Brian Goldner, Chairman and CEO of Hasbro. In addition, 10 licensing up-and-comers received Rising Star awards – these young industry professionals were recognized for their early contributions to shaping the future of our industry.

ART / DESIGN PROGRAM
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The World of Eric Carle
Eric Carle Studio, LLC
The Joester Loria Group
CELEBRITY / FASHION PROGRAM
Dear Drew
Barrymore Brands
CAA-GBG
CHARACTER / TOY BRAND PROGRAM
L.O.L. Surprise!
MGA Entertainment
CORPORATE BRAND PROGRAM
Pantone
Pantone / Brand Central
DIGITAL PROGRAM
emoji – the iconic brand
the emoji company
Global Merchandising
Services, Inc.
FILM / TELEVISION / ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM
– ANIMATED
Rick and Morty
Adult Swim & Cartoon
Network Enterprises
FILM / TELEVISION / ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM
–  LIVE ACTION
Jojo Siwa
Nickelodeon
FOOD & BEVERAGE / RESTAURANT PROGRAM
Guinness
Diageo / Beanstalk
SPORTS PROGRAM
WWE
LICENSED PROMOTION
Masters of the Universe and Dirty Dancing
Mattel and Lionsgate Born Licensing
LOCATION-BASED OR EXPERIENTIAL INITIATIVE
National Geographic Encounter
National Geographic
RETAILER PROGRAM
Spirit Halloween
Stranger Things
APPAREL / FOOTWEAR / ACCESSORIES LICENSEE
Vans
Peanuts footwear,
apparel & accessories
APPLIANCES / AUTOMOTIVE / ELECTRONICS /
HARDWARE / HOUSEWARES / PAINT LICENSEE
Broil Chef
Star Wars TIE Fighter
Gas Grill
DIGITAL LICENSEE – APPS, SOFTWARE, VIDEO
Amazon
Sesame Street Alexa Skill
FOOD / BEVERAGE LICENSEE
Brand & Vision
Sesamstrasse
organic food range
HEALTH & BEAUTY AIDS LICENSEE
Sally Hansen
Crayola Insta-Dry
nail color collection
HOME DÉCOR
domestics, furniture, giftware, textiles
Jay Franco and Sons
Minecraft home collection
PUBLISHING / SOCIAL EXPRESSION /
BACK-TO-SCHOOL LICENSEE
Lovepop
Beatles pop-up card
collection
TOYS / GAMES / NOVELTIES /
ROLE-PLAY:  0 – 12
Cra-Z-Art
Nickelodeon Slime kits
TOYS / GAMES / NOVELTIES /
ROLE-PLAY:  13 plus
The LEGO Group
LEGO Star Wars
BB-8 – 75187
Sally Hansen
The Crayola Insta-Dry
nail color collection
LIMA is proud to honor two outstanding leaders in our industry.
Welcome, Elias Fasja-Cohen and Brian Goldner to
the 2018 LIMA Licensing Hall of Fame!

Elias Fasja-Cohen
Tycoon Enterprises

Brian Goldner
Hasbro, Inc.
The Rising Stars Award recognizes the next generation of
leaders in the licensing business.
Mandy Bardisbanian
Buyer Cosmetics,
Hot Topic
Peter Cross
Brand Manager,
Broad Street Licensing
Group
Leon Maratchi
Senior Manager of Retail,
Cartoon Network
Mimi Nicosia
Senior Manager,
CPG, Nickelodeon
Sally Russell
Associate Licensing
Manager, Frank Lloyd
Wright Foundation
Fernanda Coutinho
Associate Director, Brand Management at Beanstalk
Nick Manzo
Account Director, Seltzer Licensing
Meghan Mernin
Director, Licensing,
Epic Rights
Mariana Orvañanos
Head of Marketing,
La Panadería Licensing
& Marketing
Danielle Tanton
Global Live Events &
Attractions Manager,
DHX Brands
Source: Licensing.org

Being the game with Anuj Batra

Its not easy to get time with Mr. Anuj Batra. so when you receive a message that he’s free to have a quick chat, you take it. A veteran in the retail space, Mr Batra shares his experiences with IndiaLicensingPost.com.

 

If you prefer to listen instead of reading, scroll down to the end of the page and hit play.

 

  1. You have worn many different hats throughout your career,with a strong background in retail & infrastructure. What made you join Alcis sports?
  • I have been in the retail and distribution profession for nearly 30 years. I have had the privilege of launching some iconic brands in various different sectors like footwear, apparel, garments, accessories, wellness, education and so on. The Indian sports apparel market is still in the nascent stage and I have seen a great amount of opportunity where many international brands were doing very well,however, 90% of brands were not focusing on the target audience that exists in India. By that I mean, there are so many players in India who are only concentrating on the top end of the pyramid whereas the mid and the bottom end has any brands and that is where the entire customer base in India lies. So we wanted to give the best international quality product at Indian prices to the consumers. With that in my mind, I saw a great opportunity of joining Alcis, which was actually being promoted by one of the largest sports apparel manufacturers out of India. I have had the expertise for making it for some iconic international brands as well as many Indian brands into the sports and leisure segment. So, the expertise was there in terms of manufacturing and curating something very different in terms of quality and I have got the expertise in go-to-market strategies and channel development.

 

  1. Do you believe the business of sports licensing is coming/has come of age in India?
  • Definitely! The overall Indian consumer, while growing up, always had a fancy for icons that they could relate to. We have grown up hearing stories, watching movies and serials and that is how we have connected to these superheroes. We dream and fantasize to be like them in our day to day life. In India as well, we have been growing among these characters that are more than life-like and these superheroes are being projecting in such a way that we see ourselves in them and vice versa. It becomes an easier platform for people to relate to and this is the reason why most of the organizations relate themselves to a brand, icon, license or character as it becomes easy for them to establish their product within the domestic market.

 

  1. What are the key tick marks you must have in place before investing in a licensing program?fifa-licensed-merchandise
  • The first and foremost tick mark we should have is on the overall positioning of the brand. It has to synergize with the kind of license or character we are trying associate with for our product range. Another important factor is that the license program has to be along term factor. When a brand is investing huge amount of money to obtain a license, they need to ensure that the top and bottom line of the pyramid are covered. Create a range and build up a brand around the character. The ultimate goal would be to see whether we are able to make money out of it and do justice to the brand we are trying to associate ourselves with. There has to be a two-way synergy where the brand is able to grow along with the character.

 

  1. What are your expectations from the licensor/brand owner?
  • I would say that the brand ethos should not be compromised with, whether the licensee they have signed up with is able to work out a long term strategy or build the brand around their product. It is very important to report true sales figures. Being forthright and ethical is very crucial for a license and a brand to go hand in hand for a long term vision. Getting royalty payments on time is very important as well for a licensor.

 

  1. How do you gauge customer appetite for a brand?
  • India is blessed to have so many consumers. The sheer size of the population itself is enough for us to get sizable numbers for any licensed program or a brand to successfully launch a property in India and become successful.

 

  1. Give us an example of a great licensed brand fit with your product?
  • Essentially, Alcis is all about sports apparels and we make a very diverse and unique range of sports products. We have a separate range for running, training, yoga, work-out, cricket and football. There is a huge amount of possibility for us to relate with any of the icons within this entire spectrum of categories that we are manufacturing for and to be able to bring around a brand which can fit into our brand activities. And this is why we had signed up with the iconic Shikhar Dhawan as our brand ambassador who was truly echoing the brand promise that we were trying to portray and position ourselves with. In the women’s category, we have Lauren Gottlieb who is considered to be one of the iconic figures for a lot of young women who aspire to be like her.

 

  1. You are the official licensee partner for FIFA World Cup 2018. What are some of the initiatives you are undertaking to excite fans in the run up to the event?
  • We were licensees for the Under-17 FIFA World Cup that happened in India and we took some beautiful fifa-merchandise-2initiatives of promoting the 10 million program. We also took the initiative of setting up stalls at various stadiums, discussed with other sponsors of FIFA World Cup in India like Bank of Baroda, Coca Cola, Hyundai, Hero, etc to get a sense of getting consumer feedback in terms of people trying our various products, appreciating the quality and technological advances that we are offering in our product range. For the FIFA World Cup 2018, our products will be available at Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop, Central, and Sports Station along with some multi-brand outlets across the country. We have also opened up 7 exclusive stores for Alcis where the FIFA range will be merchandised. Before the World Cup begins, we will start additional 3 stores mainly in Goa which predominantly has a strong football fan base along with Hyderabad and Bangalore. We are also going to take initiatives at Lulu Mall in Kochi which again is a city of football fans. We are trying to tie up with sponsors across other countries to promote our products and range and get ourselves associated with football academies. We are offering 555 different SKU’s in the entire FIFA range which includes both men and women. For the first time, we are launching merchandise for women/girls and kids. We have also tied up exclusively with Flipkart to launch this entire range nationwide for the online channel.

 

  1. Any key learnings you would like to share regarding your journey as a licensee of some of the biggest and well known brands in the market?
  • I would say we need to be reciprocal whether it is a brand or a licensee. There should not be different licenses given in a particular market for different categories but within the same range. At the same time, it is very important for the licensee to be able to honor the commitment and to be able to give justice to the brand. Before signing up the license program, it is very important to work on a business plan and share it.

 

  1. You have launched on your campaign “Be The Game” featuring Shikhar Dhawan – pls tell us a little more about the background and its objective.
  • Each one of us, irrespective of age, still love sports like football and cricket. We also try and discover our younger years where we participated in school or college sports teams. Some of us still continue this hobby in spite of our office schedules in order to stay fit. So it is all about being the game where we are trying to help people to talk about how we can live in our present age and still be active like a sportsman. The entire Alcis range are technologically advanced products which help people to perform better in what they are trying to do. We are shortly building up that story and you should hear about our big plans very soon.

 

  1. What advice would you give to young professionals starting out in the licensing business?fifa-merchandise-3
  • Being a jury member for WSE (World Startup Expo, Bangalore) and Narsee Monjee, I can surely advise that licensing and sports management is a great opportunity in India. Licensing is going to become more prominent in India with its spectrum not restricting to only FMCG or apparels and it will be a great career to be in. It definitely has a great amount of scope and one should encourage their kids to be able to take up this program and also take this as a full-time career.

 

  1. Tell us more about why you did you see it fit to push into the retail sales. Is it primarily for the touch-and-feel experience vis-à-vis shopping on an online portal?
  • Our entire positioning goes around the factor that the product needs to be seen and how will the consumer be aware without the touch and feel about gauging the quality and seeing the technology in front of them. So it is very important for us to create a great amount of physical presence. So far, the entire range of our sports apparel is available through more than 264 large format retail outlets and across 700 retail points which are the multi-brand retail outlets being serviced through our chain of distributors. We are also having presence in 7 of our exclusive stores and in the process of opening another 15 stores this year. The one-to-one interaction with our products is very important for us to promote our products. For example, they need to know how it feels to wear our lightweight product of 76gms or the Wonder Tee product which is made out of recycled polyester. Our market strategy is going to be a crucial factor as we plan to have our presence in more than 2000 retail outlets across India this year. We have also tied up with Walmart to sell across various retail points which would have been difficult for us to reach through our present distribution network.

 

  1. What is your take on piracy? In more mature markets in the West, they do have laws to tackle such issues but in India we lack such stringent laws. How do you view piracy and what steps do you think the licensors and licensees should take to secure their future in the market?:
  • With the IPL tournament happening, one might have seen the players wearing a very discerning product range. Our parent brand, Paragon Sports Apparels, is very fortunate to manufacture it for various different brands for the last 11 years of IPL mainly Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bengaluru. During the matches, you may have noticed thousands of fans wearing similar looking products most of them which are not manufactured under licensed programs of the IPL franchises. The government has to take some steps in order to strengthen the trademark and reinvent laws to take a quick action on piracy. The licensor and licensee need to join hands in order to curb this issue and try to raise the issue at various forums and with the government. The online channel players or retailers should not be allowed to sell dubious products which are not licensed. Once we have stringent laws across this spectrum, this problem can be taken care of. Also, as a customer, one should pledge not to buy a dubious product.

 

 

To read more such interviews check our Interviews section and for expert opinions check the Open Mic section.

For feedback please write to us at indialicensingpost@gmail.com!

LIMA and The NPD Group Kick Off Quarterly Executive Breakfast Series June 12 in New York City

New series explores research driven topics impacting businesses now and in the future

LIMA and The NPD Group have announced a quarterly Executive Breakfast Series created especially for senior brand licensing executives. This series pairs The NPD Group’s unparalleled thought leadership in more than 20 industries with LIMA’s strategic brand licensing expertise and advocacy to initiate insightful and thought-provoking discussions grounded in real data and market intelligence.

“LIMA’s mission is to drive the growth and expansion of licensing around the world, which starts with top notch educational and professional development opportunities for our licensing community and the business world at large,” said Maura Regan, LIMA Executive Vice President. “We are proud to launch this engaging Executive Breakfast Series with The NPD Group and are confident it will provide keen insights and learnings to senior executives across a multitude of industries, while elevating licensing as a smart and profitable business strategy.”

The Executive Breakfast Series launches Tuesday, June 12 at Steelcase in New York City and will focus on the following topic: The Megapower of Kid Fans – how today’s digital-savvy kids are upending the traditional model of content, and what it means for your licensing business. NPD Entertainment’s Kristen McLean will explore how children are upending the traditional models of content distribution and discovery and share data from across the children’s industry on how licenses and brands are measuring up.

“Today’s digitally-sophisticated kids are an increasingly powerful force that does not always behave in ways that are easy to anticipate. Their passion drives all kinds of new patterns of discovery, and when they get behind things, it can really move the consumer needle,” said McLean.

To register for the June 12 event, please visit the LIMA website at licensing.org.

# # #

About LIMA
LIMA – the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association – is the leading trade organization for the global licensing industry.  Founded in 1985, LIMA’s mission is to foster the growth and expansion of licensing around the world and create greater awareness of the benefits of licensing to the business community at large.  Members in over 40 countries enjoy access to an array of benefits, including extensive educational programming and worldwide networking events.  LIMA is the exclusive sponsor of events organized by UBM’s Global Licensing Group:  Licensing Expo, Brand Licensing Europe, Licensing Expo Japan, Licensing Expo China, and NYC Summit.  Visit licensing.org for more information.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
NPD is the leading global provider of market information and business solutions covering brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, and emerging channels in more than 20 industries. We combine our unique data assets with analytic solutions to help our clients measure performance, predict trends, and improve results, advising them to help drive successful growth. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, books, consumer electronics, e-commerce, entertainment, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, juvenile products, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, technology, toys, travel, retail, games, and watches / jewelry. For more information, visit npd.com.

LICENSED TO THRILL!

lima-india-at-cbme-2018

LIMA joined hands with CBME India to showcase the Indian licensing industry at the 6th edition of CBME, Mumbai

Day 2 of the 6th edition of CBME India saw some of India’s leading luminaries from the licensing industry take the stage to discuss and share their experiences on how Licensing can help grow the businesses of business owners in different markets.

licensing-experts-at-cbme-2018

Jiggy George, Head LIMA India & Founder & CEO of Dream Theatre kicked off the session with a quick introduction to each of the panelists before passing the baton on to Nitin Kalra – Director AI Interactive licensing to conduct the panel discussion – Leveraging Licensing to Grow your Market. The session covered top trends in licensing in the kids’ category, how brand owners and manufacturers can benefit from adding licensing to their portfolio supported by the growth in Indian retail and its impact on licensing, and upcoming opportunities in new licensing genres. Panelists included luminaries from the licensing space like Permendra Singh – Head, Consumer Products, Mattel India, Manish Rajoria Purple Turtle (Aadarsh), Muslim Kapasi – CEO, Excel Group, Sweta Agnihotri – CEO – Content Syndication at Reliance Big Entertainment Pvt Ltd and Mona Singh – Vice President, Sesame schoolhouse.

Nitin opened the panel discussion by asking all panelists to share their experiences of doing business in India which then led to a discussion about e-commerce and how that was playing a role in breaking down earlier norms of the business as far as pricing of products was concerned, the importance of marketing and promotion to drive sales etc. Many hot-button issues came to the fore and all panelists weighed in with their inputs.

In case you missed the session, here are some audio excerpts.

Muslim Kapasi sharing dynamics of distributors and licensees in industry:

Mona Singh talking about Sesame Street in India:

Panel Discussion:

The panel discussion was followed by a masterclass on licensing by Sushmita Singhdeo – General Manager, Dream Theatre who has spent over 2 decades in the licensing business.

WHO ARE FOOTBALL’S RISING STARS? THE NFLPA HAS YOUR ANSWER

nfl-barkley

The National Football League Players Association has unveiled its annual Rising Stars List, an annual ranking that attempts to identify the next round of players to have an impact on consumer sales.

Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants, Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns and Sam Darnold of the New York Jets were among the top of the list. Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills and Josh Rosen of the Arizona Cardinals complete the five rookies predicted to have high impact at retail.

“It is always exciting for us to see new players have the opportunity to break out both on the playing field and on retail shelves,” says Steve Scebelo, vice president, licensing and business development, NFLPA.  “This year’s NFLPA Rising Stars list will provide partners with a valuable resource for evaluating potential endorsers and influencers, planning product lines and creating a marketing strategy for the season.”

This year’s list was divided into three categories–rookies, veterans and familiar face, new places. Each category weighed a variety of factors including draft position, on-field performance, fantasy football popularity, early demand from NFLPA sponsors for content and marketing, product submissions from NFLPA licensees and the strength of a player’s new team market.The list is also based on data reported from more than 80 NFLPA licensees such as Fanatics, Nike, Majestic Athletic, Outerstuff, Forever Collectibles, Fathead, McFarlane Toys, Bleacher Creatures, FBF Originals, 500 Level, FanPrint, Photo File and New Era.

Highlights from the NFLPA’s Rising Star List include:

  • Since the first list in 2015, 29 players have climbed from a Rising 50 designation to the quarterly or year-end NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales Lists including eight players this year: Jay Ajayi, Deshaun Watson, Christian McCaffrey, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, Mitchell Trubisky, T.J. Watt and Jimmy Garoppolo.
  • Saquon Barkley joins Marcus Mariota (No. 3 in 2015), Ezekiel Elliott (No. 1 in 2016) and Myles Garrett (No. 6 in 2017) as the Rising Stars list’s all-time highest ranked rookies to watch. Elliott rose from No. 5 on the 2016 Rising 50 to No. 1 on the 2017 Year-End Top 50 Player Sales List.
  • Leonard Fournette and Jalen Ramsey of the Jacksonville Jaguars were among the top five young veterans.
  • On the defensive side, Ramsey and Aaron Donald ranked high on the list.

The 2018 NFLPA Rising Stars List projects:

Rookies:

  1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
  2. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
  3. Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets
  4. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
  5. Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals
  6. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
  7. D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
  8. Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins
  9. Bradley Chubb, DE, Denver Broncos
  10. Shaquem Griffin, LB, Seattle Seahawks

Veterans:

  1. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
  2. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  3. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
  4. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  5. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
  6. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
  7. Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
  8. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
  9. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
  10. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

Familiar Faces, New Places:

  1. Case Keenum, QB, Denver Broncos
  2. Allen Hurns, WR, Dallas Cowboys
  3. Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams
  4. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
  5. Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers

The NFLPA Rookie Premiere will provide NFLPA sponsors and licensees access to 40 top rookies, many of whom are on the aforementioned list, May 17-19, in Los Angeles. It is the first major business event following the draft.

How Brands are Making Real Money Selling Virtual Goods

At first glance it can seem almost too good to be true. Products that offer infinite scalability with minimal overhead, that can move from concept to market in a matter of days without the hassle of manufacturing or distribution.

Want to explore the potential to extend your brand into virtual goods_ Stop by and see the experts at BLMP Network in Booth C142 at Licensing Expo May 22-24. Book an appointment now.And yet this is exactly the kind of real-world, money-making opportunity available to brands willing to enter the bold new arena of virtual merchandise.

An Untapped Market for Brands

Over the last decade, the sale of virtual goods has exploded alongside the exponential growth of social media and gaming. The result is a multi-billion-dollar marketplace for products that, technically speaking, aren’t real. The money, however, is very real, with recent estimates putting the annual revenue of virtual products at more than $15 billion. Virtual goods can be anything from digital stickers for use in messaging apps to outfits for your avatar to extra lives in a digital game.

This entirely new product category has come about as part of the move to a “freemium economy” where consumers expect to get the services they want – everything from news to a mobile game – for free. Companies still have to pay the bills though, and so they’ve gotten creative in terms of monetization. The traditional approach has relied on advertising, but for many digital companies, in-app purchases of virtual goods offer a new way to keep the lights on while actually enhancing the user experience.

Candy Crush StoreAnd people are very willing to spend their real-world money on these digital upgrades, sometimes a lot of it. The first-person shooter game “CS:GO” is notorious for its high-end virtual goods market, which sells a vast range of decorative virtual weapons (called “skins”) for upwards of $50,000. And that’s not even close to the biggest purchase ever recorded. In 2010, someone shelled out $635,000 for a virtual night club called Neverdie in the game “Entropia Universe.”

Of course, these kinds of big ticket sales are rare, just as they are in the real world, and most virtual goods price in under the $10 mark.

Activision Blizzard’s “Candy Crush Saga” continues to be the No. 1 top-grossing mobile game in the world five years after its initial release, thanks in large part to in-app purchases of its much more reasonably priced virtual goods. That doesn’t mean there isn’t money being made though – consumers spent $250 million on “Candy Crush” extra moves, color bombs and lollipop hammers in the third quarter of 2017 alone.

Now think about this – most of the products for sale in “Candy Crush” are native to the game, meaning they aren’t associated with any outside brand. But why couldn’t the lollipop hammer be made from a Chupa Chups or the color bombs be inspired by Crayola hues?

“People spend their money where they spend their time, and more and more people are spending their time in digital ecosystems, but brands aren’t fully capitalizing on this yet,” said David Uy, co-founder and CEO of BLMP Network, a new platform that helps facilitate licensing partnerships between brands and digital publishers. “The digital platform, let’s say a video game, is generating revenue from its users by creating these really cool add-ons that people want to buy, but at the same time they’re guessing what their users want. The opportunity here for brands is, right away you can give users relatable content that they already enjoy in real life.”

David’s company, BLMP Network, aims to make it easier for brands and digital platforms to connect and tap into this opportunity. BLMP Network not only allows participating brands and platforms to strike deals for virtual goods, but it also allows brands to easily follow their IP through the process from product creation to sale and even re-sale. (Yes, there’s a whole market out there for peer-to-peer trading and selling of “second hand” virtual goods, although we won’t get into that here.)

KK HollywoodTo understand how tremendously profitable branded virtual products can be, one need look no further than modern media maven Kim Kardashian. Her mobile game, “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” has raked in hundreds of millions of dollars since its 2014 launch, according to the game’s developer Glu Mobile. And since the game is free-to-play, that money is coming almost exclusively from the sale of virtual luxury goods within the app, things like private planes and high-end clothing and accessories.

“The Kim Kardashian game made close to $75 million in its first year alone selling virtual goods to teenagers who wanted to emulate Kim’s celebrity lifestyle,” said David. “It got to the point that the teenagers were so engaged, that the luxury brands themselves were actually creating custom pieces for her game.”

Among the real-world luxury brands who signed on to create exclusive virtual merchandise for the game are Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld and Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing.

But Why?

For some, the idea of spending real money on products that don’t technically exist can be a bit difficult to understand, but according to David it makes perfect sense.

CS GO Skins“People buy things online for the same reason they buy things offline–status, differentiation, identity, membership,” he says.

And this is why the virtual goods space offers so much opportunity to brands. If someone is a loyal consumer of your brand in the real world, there’s no reason that loyalty won’t extend into the digital world as well.

Take a Marvel fan for example. He’s already willing to spend money on clothes, toys and other products featuring his favorite superhero, so it’s not such a stretch to imagine that he would also buy an Iron Man-themed car to drive in his favorite racing app. His motivations for the digital purchase won’t be that different from his reasons for buying a t-shirt or action figure in the real world.

This is especially true in multi-player universes like “CS:GO” or “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” where players interact and build relationships with other people–just like in any other social setting, status and identity, often expressed through things like clothing, are crucial to these interactions.

The Brand Advantage

It will come as no surprise that, as with most new trends, younger consumers are driving the growth of virtual goods sales. Additionally, the market is much more mature in other regions of the world than it is in North America at the moment, particularly in Asia.

“In North America it’s not as common yet for people to buy stuff in games, but in Asia it’s very normal, it’s like buying Starbucks,” says David.

Entering the virtual goods marketplace provides a new avenue for brands to reach these two highly desirable demographics and can also present a relatively low-risk way to test out new markets.

Want to explore the potential to extend your brand into virtual goods_ Stop by and see the experts at BLMP Network in Booth C142 at Licensing Expo May 22-24. Book an appointment now. (1)And the fact that the products don’t actually exist is an advantage in and of itself. This merchandise isn’t restricted by the physical limitations of the real world. Gone are the time and financial constraints of product development and supply chain concerns. In many cases the platform or developer will do the work of creating the virtual good themselves, all the brand has to do is approve.

That’s because, for these digital platforms, virtual goods have become an essential way to not only make money, but to introduce new content that maintains engagement among users.

“These digital ecosystems, they rise and fall,” explains David. “There was MySpace, and then it goes obsolete, now there’s Facebook, Instagram, etcetera. You might have the hottest game of the year right now, but there will be another one next year. These companies have to spend a tremendous amount of time keeping their users, because those users are extremely valuable to them. They also need to find ways to monetize. Branded virtual content creates excitement among users and has the added bonus of generating revenue for both the platform and the brand.”

In fact, virtual goods can become a viable alternative to traditional digital advertising for many brands. “It’s not just about the sales of the virtual goods. The virtual good is advertising in and of itself. Just the fact that it’s in the store of a platform is a kind of advertising,” said David.

Connecting the Dots

One problem with the virtual goods marketplace that has been a barrier to entry for many brands has been the mechanics of the deal itself.

To illustrate the problem, David recounts a conversation with his mentor Henk Rogers, the creator of “Tetris,” who now serves as a BLMP Network advisor.

“When Henk got into the gaming business, you sold disks or cartridges, those were physical goods, easy to track,” said David. “Then it evolved into downloads, so okay, we track the downloads. But now, based on the freemium economy that is driving everything across social networks and gaming, everyone is playing for free, and you have to track all these micro-transactions within each game. How do you even know that your records are right? It requires a lot of effort and trust. What I told him is, we can solve this problem using blockchain.”

Blockchain is the decentralized accounting technology that was originally developed for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. This technology has now come into its own and is being recognized for its many other potential applications. This includes the safe, reliable and secure tracking of digital transactions, and it is BLMP Network’s secret weapon.

“Blockchain is fully transparent, and in using it to develop our network, we create trust in a trustless system,” he says. “So now all of a sudden if Henk is making a deal in a country overseas, he can actually see all the micro-transactions as they happen, and it’s all secured cryptographically. There’s no way to go back and fraudulently change the data, so consumer transactions involving your intellectual property can be tracked and traced without any fear of tampering. That’s revolutionary, that’s never been done before.”

Want to explore the potential to extend your brand into virtual goods_ Stop by and see the experts at BLMP Network in Booth C142 at Licensing Expo May 22-24. Book an appointment now. (2)

PLAY VISIONS BUYS MEGAFUN TOYS

mega-fun-usa-logo

Play Visions has acquired a portion of MegaFun USA’s toy product lines including Mega Marbles and Payaso play balls.

The deal will see Play Visions take the lead on sales and distribution, effective May 14. Play Visions will also represent Mega Marbles and Payasco at future industry shows.

MegaFun USA distributes and manufactures glass toy marbles and PVC products such as balls and hoppers. Additional information will become available in the coming weeks.

BETTY BOOP DANCES INTO DEALS AROUND THE GLOBE

betty-boop-merchandising

King Features has brokered a series of deals, on behalf of Fleischer Studios, that will expand the Betty Boop property into new categories.

New partners include:

North America

  • H3 for sportwear;
  • Innovent Brands for domestic and home décor; and
  • Rocking Pins for limited edition pins.

Asia

  • Hyperround for apparel in South Korean, set to launch this summer;
  • Ben & Derrek for apparel and accessories in South Korea, launching this fall;
  • Guang-Jia for accessories in Thailand; and
  • unnamed partners for goods in Japan.

Europe

  • Le Pandorine for fashion bag accessories in Italy, set to launch in spring/summer 2019; and
  • Sabron for apparel in Benelux.

Latin America

  • Passion Comercio for HBA in Brazil; and
  • Loungerie for sleepwear, underwear, swim, and accessories in Brazil.

Global

  • Zazoo for fine art;
  • MBI for figurines in the U.S., U.K and Erie;
  • Bradford Exchange for home décor in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand; and
  • Funko for Pop! vinyl figures.

“Betty’s upbeat, celebratory and positive personality along with her love of being in the spotlight make her a natural fit for the recent collaborations we’ve launched,” says Carla Silva, vice president and general manager, global head, licensing, King Features.

HASBRO PICKS UP SABAN’S ASSETS

hasbro-signs-saban-brands

Hasbro and Saban Brands have signed a definitive agreement that will see Hasbro acquire a variety of Saban’s assets, in a deal valued at $522 million.

“‘Power Rangers’ is an iconic brand built on a heritage of great storytelling and merchandising with tremendous upside potential when fully executed across Hasbro’s Brand Blueprint,” says Brian Goldner, chairman and chief executive officer, Hasbro. “Shortly after entering into our licensing arrangement, it became clear that now was the time to begin investing in unlocking ‘Power Rangers’’ full potential. We see significant opportunity for ‘Power Rangers’ across our entire Brand Blueprint, including toys and games, consumer products, digital gaming and entertainment, as well as geographically throughout our global retail footprint. We couldn’t be more pleased that Haim Saban will continue in a consulting role to further guide our development of this valuable property for the next generation of ‘Power Rangers’ fans.”

Moving forward, Hasbro will now own brands such as “Power Rangers,” “My Pet Monster,” “Popples,” “Julius Jr.,” “Luna Petunia” and “Treehouse Detectives,” among others. Most recently, Hasbro paid Saban $22.25 million for its “Power Rangers” master toy license agreement, which will be credited toward the purchase price. Hasbro will also pay an additional $229.75 million in cash as well as issue $270 million worth of Hasbro common stock for the assets.

“25 years after launching ‘Power Rangers,’ I believe the future for this brand has never been greater,” says Haim Saban, founder, Saban Brands. “Hasbro’s leadership in innovation, storytelling and brand stewardship make it the perfect company to further develop the global reach and appeal of the ‘Power Rangers’ property. I look forward to working with Brian and the team in the years to come.”

In February, Saban Brands appointed Hasbro to serve as the global master toy licensee for its “Power Rangers” brand, excluding Japan and select Asian markets.