In a candid conversation with the Retailer Media during Indian Retail Congress held at Hyatt Regency, Gurgaon, Turner International Director – South Asia Anand Singh shared his understanding about the gains of LIMA membership while operating in India, as Licensing industry is in its embryotic stage in here and there is a lot to understand and implement.
What are brands are there in the kitty of Turner International at the moment?
The biggest brand that we have currently is Ben 10 and we also represent the WB franchise which is Tom & Jerry, Scooby Doo, Looney Tunes, the classics, lot of movie properties including Batman and Superman which is going to be released next year. Also, we represent Batman, Superman, The Flintstones, and Harry Potter along with many other franchises.
How do you analyse the growth of Indian Licensing Industry?
The future is looking bright. I have been in licensing for last 6 years and I have seen the business evolve from what is licensing, since licensing had a bit of negative connotations around it to now when companies actually look out for licenses. I think it has taken some time for people to understand that they are actually to pay for a property, and they can just go to Google, take property and start slapping it on to their products.
But, the evolution has been good and the learning has been good for people. So, we see a lot of other companies which were not signed up earlier are signing up contacts now for example – Tupperware, Titan etc. So, there is a whole lot of interest from corporates and of course the regular licensing guys.
What is Market like there in other countries being monitored by you?
Pakistan is very different market from India because consumer products don’t sell so much. Also it is a slightly politically disturbed, but food and beverages companies do very well. So if you see, whether it is lays, a local company called English Biscuits, a company Angro, which is like the Unilever of Pakistan, Nestle, Heinz, we have deals with all of them. F&B companies are very keen on doing promotional licensing there. In terms of product licensing we had few deals, but consumer products segment is still to take place.
Bangladesh is a nascent licensing market. We have got two deals there, one with Bata and other with Perfetti.
Sri Lanka is looking as an exciting market for us moving forward and I have seen the market evolve in last 3 years. Now we have deals both in promotional space as well as product space. Small country, but reporting is good, people are essentially ethical, and retail in yet to take off there in Sri Lanka. Colombo is about 60 per cent of the market, restricted in terms of scale, but certainly a market to look out for in the region.
Which is the most lucrative category for Turner when it comes to licensing?
I will say three, not one. Three main categories in licensing across products, categories and properties are back-to-school – bags, sippers, stationary items; apparels and toys. Couple of businesses which have died down during past few years include home videos, which is dying completely; publishing is also on decline. In India, it will sustain for some more time, but publishing in terms of traditional one and not e-books, is also going to slow down in a way as a business.
What has been your take on the markets for licensed out kids’ apparel?
The positive is that we have completely India manufacturing, whether it is based out of Tirupur or Kolkata. We are self sufficient in terms of apparel; we don’t have to be dependent on china for imports. On the negative side – since the manufacturing is rampant here, there is a lot of piracy which happens. So for anyone to go on Google images, pick up a Ben 10 image and stick it on products is not difficult. Piracy is extremely high in India. As a market India is good, however it is about finding the right partner.
What benefit will the LIMA membership serve to a licensee or licensor?
It is very important for licensees and licensors to understand that how the licensing works, because awareness level for licensing is still very low in India. A Lima membership will entitle you to be a part of the activities that LIMA does which will be a learning experience for all. So for a licensee to understand what all properties are doing well internationally, what is the space they can operate in, it is important for them to come on the same platform as the licensors are, and understand the business better.
Being a part of LIMA advisory board, what would be your contribution towards the industry and LIMA?
If we have a body where we enroll people for LIMA membership, and if we can have more sessions and conclaves on LIMA, I will try and exhort all my licensees to join LIMA and try to understand licensing better. And it also becomes some kind of industry body, so tomorrow if we have to negotiate or lobby with a government body; it gives you an edge over just going as a single entity.
Are there any new domains that Turner International is looking to extend their licensing?
Recently, we have launched kids’ tablets with Ben 10 with a company called Eddy. Also because Ben 10 is very gadget freak kind of character, we are experimenting with new categories around it. We have launched tablets which are very kids’ friendly and equipped with firewalls, parental locks etc.