Krrish 3 and Dhoom 3 are doing their best to make film-based merchandising popular in the country

We claim to be a nation with a passion for films. Going by 2012 figures, India produced as many as 1,602 films. Even in comparison with the global scene, that’s the highest number of films made. But we don’t seem to want to take our movies home with us! Take a look at the dismal figure for film-based merchandise. This assisted source of revenue and brand-building is still trying to put a foot in the door despite some big muscle behind it. According to industry estimates, the Indian market manages to net around 10-15 per cent of the approximately US$135 billion of estimated retail sales of licensed merchandise on a global basis.

Two of the most-anticipated films this year, Krrish 3 and Dhoom 3, both franchises, are pumping in their best to make sure that poor merchandising becomes history. In the run up to its elaborate merchandising plan, Yash Raj Films has joined hands with 99Games Online to develop and publish mobile games based on the popular film franchise. The first game in this series will be marketed with the release of Dhoom 3 (on December 20). The Roshans, too, have tied up with brand management and licensing agency Dream Theatre and have unleashed more than 250 products in the Rs. 50 – Rs. 3,500 range, across more than 1,000 retailers, including mom-and-pop stores to organised multi-brand outlets and e-commerce sites, for Krrish 3 (releasing on November 1).

The next two months promise to be huge for an industry that has never had sufficient initiative. But how have the dynamics changed? Vice-president, licensing & merchandising of Yash Raj Films, Rohit Sobti, says, “Although 2004 and 2006 were not that long ago, consumer tastes and retail attitudes have changed. Consumers have a greater interest in purchasing media-based licensed products today, compared to when the first two Dhoom films were released. We have also witnessed greater interest and support from Indian retailers to carry licensed merchandise.”

Jiggy George, whose Dream Theatre represents Warner Bros Consumer Products for core portfolios of promotional licensing, food and beverages and personal care, and which has forayed into sports brands with FIFA, says, “For Bollywood, licensing and merchandising is a low priority and an afterthought. It is something that is never planned at the script stage but as a promotional tool. Also, movies have very short life cycles and to have product launches dovetailing with a movie and then making a profit is a challenge for partners. This is where Krrish scores. It’s a franchise and there are already four animation films created for a kids’ channel. This will keep the momentum alive for licensing.”

According to Rohit, the estimated retail sales of licensed merchandise on a global basis for 2012 is approximately US$135 billion. Sales of licensed products in India, which are not reported separately but are combined with the whole of the Asian market, are estimated to be in the region of US$824 million. “Of that amount, the vast majority of licensed sales comes from the Japanese and Chinese markets, and therefore the Indian market may have only accounted for 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the total,” he reckons.

What contributes to low popularity of merchandise here is that not all of Bollywood’s films are suitable for licensing. Experts agree that the types of films that offer the greatest potential are the ones that appeal to children or teens, those that are action-based and those that promote an appealing lifestyle or achieve significant popularity. Explains Rohit, “Disney films are excellent examples of films which have enjoyed global licensing success. The Dhoom films offer significant licensing opportunities because of their fast-paced action, use of attractive vehicles and alluring lifestyle elements. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (still running in Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir theatre) is representative of a film that achieves such a level of success that it builds consumer appetite for ownership of material items that evoke memories of the film.”

Dream Theatre’s Jiggy says, “Outside of Krrish 3, most Bollywood movies have been promotional versus pure merchandising and don’t have depth of range and width of availability. For instance, it’s usual for a private label of a retailer to convert its existing line into an apparel line for a movie release. This is more promotional rather than creating a line specifically for the movie!”

Bright future

Yet, Rohit notes, the Indian market is still emerging with regard to licensing. The factors that influence the growth of licensing are the consumer’s desire to purchase such merchandise and also expansion of the retail market. Also an influencing factor is the growth of multiple outlets of the same retail store. “The development of multi-store chains will play a significant role in the growth of licensing due, in large part, to their ability to purchase larger quantities of merchandise,” he says, reiterating that the future is bright.

For Krrish merchandise, Jiggy avers that ambition is the key word, as is making products accessible and affordable. “Every Krrish movie in the franchise has been more ambitious, so also the consumer products programme. Rakesh Roshan’s vision and expectation from Dream Theatre is to better the last effort by reaching to more fans via products, having accessible price points and standardisation in design, like we see in international licensing programmes. The Indian licensing business is worth US$300 million in retail and Bollywood is a small segment of that. It would not be more than US$30 million in retail, but has great potential.”