The Indian eyewear market is rapidly growing given the young population and growing awareness of branded eyewear. Growing at a rate of 10 per cent per annum for the last five years, the eyewear industry has witnessed entry of a majority of high end brands under licensing agreement. Major brands as Raulph lauren, Dior, Elle Saab etc. have licensed their names for eyewear category. in Vineet Sharma, MD, Aureole Inspecs shares insight about the eyewear licensing industry.
How is Indian retail responding towards eyewear licensing?
As far as retail scenario is concerned, it is divided in a big way. When we talk about certain luxury brand, in order to attract the consumers, every retailer wants brands that the consumers could relate to either in an aspiration value or possibly the name the consumers can recall the most.
Of course the retailers are putting this as a page and obviously the brands have their own attraction. So one – it is aspirational value for the consumers and second – from the knowledge perspective (what they know) and the third is the curiosity of the international brands which they don’t know when they are exposed in market.
How is the competition from global brands?
The brands do attract in a major way and the consumers have a great resonance to it. So, obviously one can conclude that licensing is really working well. But don’t forget that we still have too many licensees in the market which are coming in eyewear predominantly through trading route. There is not so much of direct licensing happening. We have global players which are companies getting licensing, manufacturing, and owning the distribution and if you look at their India operations, they are not doing deals directly.
When we talk about licensing in eyewear, many companies in India are the effect of their parent companies holding licenses and they are purely doing trading in India. There are few companies like us who have been practicing licensing in the country because generally the licensor in here are at a very nascent stage lacking international experience or exposure within licensing.
How has been your experience with brand licensing for eyewear as this genre is not very common in India?
Licensing is at a very nascent stage so people handling licensing don’t understand it. Consumers have responded in a great way, but is industry truly doing eyewear licensing. There are brands, and sub-licensing happening as well (some of the distributors are producing on behalf of the brand) but as far as local licensing is concerned, I don’t think a lot has happened. The question is - are the Indian brands licensors’ ready; do they understand the businesses and brands that work better?
What are the challenges that licensors face and how should they address those challenges?
One of the largest challenge for licensors is ‘quality’ which is proportional to choosing the right partner for short term gain or long term establishing values such as quality, right pricing and comradery between the partner because actually the licensee is the one who actually does invest, not just in stock, but the designs, R&D and is the one firing all the guns. The licensee is not going to be understood or heard.
Talking in Indian front, the Indian brands need to understand licensing better, work with partners who are not just dangling a cheque in front of them but truly becoming partners.
What has been the most popular segment in eyewear?
From an aspirational level, not each customer who aspires, buys but luxury brands have surely been the crowd pullers. I think sports brands are still struggling to make it in a big way, but lifestyle brands are the largest in terms of volumes and perhaps even value.
What are your future plans from licensing per say?
We have signed up with Pepe Jeans just now and have also brought in Hackkit. We have already put it in EBOs. We are also going to bring in Ted Baker, Converse and we have another 4 designer labels from japan & US lined up.
My experience with Indian brands so far has been not very good. Right now I would prefer to deal with international brands because the Indian brands are very nascent and looking for short terms gains rather than investments.
According to you, why is brand Licensing an effective retail strategy?
From retailer’s perspective, it is always good to have brands which are recognized. All these brands are trying to create relationship with audiences. They are reckoning upon current consumers, possible consumers and future consumers.
Also licensing gives good sales mix to the retailer where he can have certain degree of licensed products being sold and contributing a lot to his margin.