Planet Superheroes is on a mission to take over the country one store at a time!

Ready, steady, fly!

Planet Superheroes recently announced its store expansion footprint to go beyond the metros of India. With six new retail stores in the last quarter – they have expanded into towns like Jabalpur, Surat, Mangalore, and Vapi making the total count at 25 across India. With 10 more stores opening in the next quarter, Planet Superheroes is leading the way in terms of its omnichannel footprint across both physical and online channels.

Planet Superheroes was launched in 2014 to cater to the huge comic fan community of India which was hungry for a brand focused on providing officially licensed character merchandise. In a market that had been widely polluted with counterfeit products, Planet Superheroes took the leap of faith that Indian customers wanted value for money and preferred official merchandise with consistent quality over counterfeit products. They have now established themselves as a market leader in just under five years both in terms of retail footprint and in the breadth of characters and categories they sell. They have also established a pan India distribution in the toys category to cater to the Mom and Pop Stores of India that still rely on traditional distribution channels.

In terms of licensing partnerships, they work with almost every major licensor from Disney, Warner Brothers, EONE, Viacom, Spin Master and Hasbro bringing joy to its end customers across age categories from Pre-School to hardcore Action Figure Fans who have no age limit! They sell 50+ categories from Apparel, Toys, Collectibles, Electronics and Accessories to name a few. They have also been winners of the Comic-Con Gold Awards for two years in succession.

Licensing in India

The Annual Global Licensing Industry Survey 2018 estimated that the global licensing industry is worth $271.6 Bn. However, licensing in India is still at a nascent stage. But the entry of licensees like Planet Superheroes, coupled with advancements in technology and ever-expanding marketplaces have provided the much-needed tailwinds needed for the growth of this sector. There is still a lack of retail players as traditional retailers do not understand the power of curation. As one of the earliest licensed merchandise brands, Planet Superheroes started focusing on creating ‘character merchandise’ as a category in itself and became a forerunner in bringing this concept to end consumers. While brands like Hamleys, Reliance, Lifestyle etc. also sell character merchandise in silos under Apparel, Electronics, Toys, Planet Superheroes has taken a contrarian “curated category” approach on the lines of other global players in the world that have succeeded in this space.

Challenges

The most important challenge in retail is managing the expectations of the mall owners who often expect Planet Superheroes’ “trading density” (Revenue per square foot) to be on par with other premium fashion brands. This is a challenge because, despite the better than average conversion, the average price of these products are much lower compared to the bigger brands who command a much larger premium. However, after successfully executing its first 5 stores and proving the value addition, most mall operators now approach them to become a part of their upcoming mall launches because of the uniqueness and customer engagement value that they bring to the mall. They currently work with almost all the marquee mall developers from Phoenix Mills, Viviana, Nexus, Infiniti, VR Mall and Forum to name a few.

Way Forward

Planet Superheroes will continue to expand its retail footprint into territories that are underserved. Their next focus will be in the Eastern and Northern parts of India going as far as Guwahati in the North East of India. Planet Superheroes is a brand with a technology DNA – their technical ambitions surpass their current scale. While most retailers 5x their size have started thinking about these problems, Planet Superheroes has been quietly investing in leveraging automation, data-warehousing and intelligent algorithms to crack the complex world of omnichannel inventory management. They strongly believe that their robust tech infrastructure and process-driven expansion would be key differentiators as they scale from store number 25 to 100.

Special thanks to Jaineel Aga & Nikita Zankar from Team PlanetSuperHeroes.

 

 

Viacom acquires Garfield brand for Nick portfolio

Viacom has announced plans to acquire Paws Inc., the global rights owner of the Garfield and the U.S. Acres franchises.

Following the completion of the acquisition, Viacom subsidiary Nickelodeon will develop a new Garfield animated television series. Global merchandising rights for Garfield will be managed by Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products, including the property’s existing portfolio of licensees. Garfield creator Jim Davis will continue to produce the Garfieldsyndicated comic strip.

The acquisition of Garfield will expand Nickelodeon’s growing portfolio of properties that already includes “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “PAW Patrol,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Blue’s Clues & You!” and an all-new animated “Star Trek” series.

Garfield is a global evergreen franchise that is a natural fit with Nickelodeon and our portfolio of iconic properties,” says Pam Kaufman, president, VNCP. “With fans around the globe that span both kids and adults, we are excited to ignite Garfield into a multigenerational consumer products juggernaut and further deliver on VNCP’s ‘Every Age, Every Aisle’ mission.”

Originated by cartoonist Jim Davis, Garfield has spawned movies, TV shows, stage shows, and various consumer merchandise. Last year, the character celebrated its 40th anniversary with a variety of licensing deals.

Source: https://www.licenseglobal.com/character/viacom-acquires-garfield-brand-nick-portfolio

Nick-ing it in the bud – Dan Frugtniet

We caught up with Dan Frugtniet – VP – Licensing & Business Dev at Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) on the sidelines of the India Licensing Expo for a candid chat on his travels across India, state of play for his portfolio of brands, piracy, and his advice to first-time entrepreneurs.

ILP: You seem to have a highly in-depth knowledge of India having traveled extensively across the country in the 90’s and now in your current role as VP, Licensing & Biz Dev for Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products. How has the licensing industry shaped up according to you since then?

Dan: I’ve traveled a great deal across India back in the 1990’s and have some fantastic memories of your country. I joined Viacom 8 years ago and witnessed how much India has changed dramatically over the years. Especially the licensing space has seen huge changes I would say in the last 3 years. It’s always a pleasure to visit India and this is my second visit to the India Licensing Expo so thanks again for welcoming me!

ILP: In your current position at Viacom you oversee the Emerging Markets region, please share some of your insights on how these markets are shaping up vis a vis the global landscape.

Dan: Each market has its own nuances, tastes and preferences and we like to look at them independently rather than a one size fits all approach. All of these markets for Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products are showing a positive upward trend as far as licensing is concerned and we continue to expect YoY growth as we move through 2018-2020.

ILP: Which are some of your key properties and some of those in the pipeline?

Dan: Our 3 biggest brands in the portfolio from an India licensing perspective are MTV, SpongeBob SquarePants & Dora the Explorer. SpongeBob has his 20th Anniversary in 2019 so there will be lots of activities to help celebrate including new Seasons and a 3rd Movie in the pipeline, and Dora is 20 years old, but they still have massive consumer fan bases around the world. So, we continue to nurture and grow these evergreen properties. But we are also now very much focused on Paw Patrol and rolling out new categories and SKU in India over 2018-19 and onwards. This property is a global pre-school juggernaut and continues to win awards and gain fans all over the World!  At the same time, we are beginning our journey with Shimmer & Shine, an awesome girl’s pre-school property, and Mattel will launch Toys Q1.2019 in India with new licensees and new categories to come.

ILP: When do you think a brand is license ready?

Dan: That’s a million-dollar question. I think a property needs to build a strong and robust connection with the audience in an impactful manner (which in our case could be through a TV show or digital content). With that built-in audience, it gives a licensor like ourselves the confidence to go out into the market and monetize it with consumer products.

ILP: According to the latest LIMA figures the global licensing business is valued at $272 Billion of which character/entertainment licensing comprises a majority share of 44.7% at $121 billion. Viacom has a significant play in this space. What has been your strategy to grow this category and take it to newer heights?

Dan: At Viacom, being a big portfolio Licensor and specifically a pre-school powerhouse in the character entertainment space, we are continuously investing in both nurturing our evergreen franchises as well as building and launching new  properties  that will appeal to our core target-demographics i.e. kids 2-12yrs. We want to be present wherever they are and entertain and educate them in the best possible way. JoJo Siwa is a great example. JoJo has a HUGE global following as a tween social-media talent – her YouTube footprint has had 1.3 billion views! We created a consumer products programme for her, and JoJo’s signature hair-bow became a global trend with over 10+ million bows shipped in 2018!

ILP: Closer home, retail sales of licensed merchandise in India have grown a total of 44% to $1.476 billion over the last 4 years. This despite a HUGE grey market. How is Viacom tackling the problem of piracy? Any key steps based on learnings from other markets?

Dan: Yes, piracy is a HUGE issue we all face globally and we continue to work with the customs and police departments in all our markets to ensure our IP is protected through enforcement, etc. We rely on our partners to help report counterfeit products and then take immediate action to address it. Anti-counterfeit operations require the support of all key stakeholders from Licensors / Licensees / Government Depts / Retailers and Distributors.  Part of the problem-solution is to identify and clean markets of fake goods, but there also needs to be a focus on education of consumers and parents that counterfeit products are potentially dangerous and may injure a child.

ILP: You have experience in vertical licensing businesses with a client direct model as well as Licensing Agent model in a variety of territories. Which has proved to be more productive and efficacious?

Dan: In India, we work with our JV business Viacom18, and they manage all of our IP in India and South Asia and do some amazing work and deals in the region. Myself – I have spent the last 13 years working on Direct-to-Licensee and also Agent models so understand the nuances of each, and they both have an important place within any Global Licensor to expand their licensing business.

ILP: What are your key checkboxes for signing up a licensee?

Dan: For me personally, I like to see a lot of passion in potential licensees that they are going to give their 110% to not only recoup their MG investment but to also develop an innovative product that is priced competitively and ultimately is appealing to our target-demos and sells at retail.   Ultimately, trust is a very important factor, this is an essential part of any successful licensing deal as let us not forget that the contract terms are long and we need to work together for years, so it should be a happy partnership built on strong foundations for the long-term. Finally, I would say communication is the other key factor, if there is a problem I want to hear about it right away from my Licensees or Agents, then together we can find the solution!

ILP: What is your advice for a young entrepreneur looking to set up a licensing business?

Dan: Find your passion. Do you have an idea that you think you can execute or a product that you believe in and also believe that other people need and would pay for? Then go out there and start networking. Meet with a few experienced folks in the business, get their feedback and together sharpen the idea or product until it has achieved a certain critical mass. The next big thing could be waiting for you just around the corner. Keep your eye out for it and remember to come to the Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products team first!