Licensing is a decisive component in transforming a celebrity into a brand. Strategic brand extension via licensing has the ability to provide ongoing annuity revenues and assist the celebrity in remaining ‘top of mind’ over a longer term.
Nothing sells like celebrity” is rightly an assertion that is apt when it comes to the business of brand licensing. This licensing category is common in the US. From leading businesswoman Martha Stewart to model and actress Kim Kardashian, celebrity-branded licensed products are now ubiquitous in the market place.
But the Indian market of celebrity licensing needs to be delved into, as here, the market is in its maturing stage and cannot be called a ripened one. Also, the pros and cons of this business need a careful insight, including its evolvement from the past to the present, to ascertain the future of celebrity licensing in India.
As industry reports indicate, fashion related licensed market was $125 million in India in 2012. And, with the increasing number of new brands entering the Indian market, Bollywood icons are rapidly grabbing attention and emerging as successful licensors. Actor Salman Khan who promoted ‘Being Human’ has become the pioneer in making celebrity licensing a successful trend in India.
However, the category invites with it a set of challenges and pitfalls. The easy availability of cheap fake merchandise is a major issue that cannot be ignored by the licensees. Commenting on this issue, Manish Mandhana, MD, Mandhana Industries, the global licensee of ‘Being Human’, said, “I have found the fake ‘Being Human’ merchandise in all lengths and breadths of this country.” Fashion licensing no doubt is growing, but unlike the West, Indian market is far from witnessing success that has already been tasted in the Western countries. As per Mandhana, the market which is largely dominated by the big players is a challenge that we need to take care of in India.
Going by this trend, recently, Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan made a move into celebrity licensing with the launch of a fitness brand, HRX, aided by the licensing agency, The Wild East Group and Roshan’s talent management company, Exceed Entertainment.
The underlying mission was to empower young achievers through a variety of programmes and inculcate the concept of prioritising health, and make diet and fitness a key part of everyone’s life. Sharing thoughts on the same, Pankaj Sikka, Chief Brand Strategist and COO, The Wild East Group, says, “We have tested the celebrity and the brand within the Indian market and the opportunity is both massive and substantial, especially in a region that is fixated with celebrity culture.”
Bad public relation
When a celebrity is entitled to license a brand’s products, he is solely responsible to carry forward the reputation of the product and his demeanour in public plays a pivotal role in garnering additional revenue and in extending his presence to new product categories.
Sharing thoughts on the same, Martin Brochstein, SVP, Industry Relations and Information, LIMA said, “But this is always not the case for a celebrity who has been pushed in a controversy resulting from a bad behaviour that can cost millions to a manufacturer, therefore, deteriorating product value in the market.”
Clearly, celebrity licensing is no doubt a good opportunity but trick lies in mentioning and signing clauses before signing a celebrity for your business. After all, business is a cautious game altogether!