Sports licensing moving beyond cricket and sneakers

Sports licensing has undergone a paradigm shift, thus making the segment move beyond the personification of sports licensing equal to sneakers and cricket, says Pankaj Sikka of Invision brands.
Sports licensing moving beyond cricket and sneakers

In a nation as diverse and emotive as India, sports certainly unifies us – and then divides us into ‘segments’ (based on the teams we support) in a way that suits brands to make big return / run high resonance brand campaigns.

The fan market is very lucrative – the sport and team popularity, the related media attention, the tie ups between celebrities and the various leagues – all translate into significant consumer interest and product sales.

There has been a phenomenal uptake in this genre of licensing – a lot of money is being poured into the space and despite controversies coming and going – Sport remains as it should – a source of entertainment and pure play like none other. 

In terms of consumption patterns in this space, we have moved away from the sports = sneakers mindset. Changing lifestyles, penchant for fitness, the uptake of Marathons and Tennis Leagues etc. have opened up huge niche segments across Activewear and League merchandise right from T-shirts, bags, stationary, tech accessories etc. Sporting figures are seeing big money and a there is an increasing trend of tieups between Sports figures and fashion brands to capitalize in on this opportunity.

More than just cricket

The sports ecosystem is changing visibly now for the better, not only as a society has there been a shift from ‘cricket’ but also in terms of the options available for consumption and integration into a fan’s viewership and lifestyle spend  – the hosting / televising of events– people can follow / watch matches on their smartphones wherever they are, a stream of additional media properties, newer dedicated Sports Channels - all help in cumulative traction across the various new leagues being formed by the day across different sport categories.

For sports brands to get into licensing, it’s important that they choose the right partner, a partner who shall not only help in creating the right licensing program but also work closely with the brand team to indentify and launch the licensed merchandise.

Licensed merchandise across the sports leagues / teams / brands is a small but growing revenue earner. The fans today love to dress up as their favorite teams / players and thus we see the maximum traction coming across the fashion and fashion accessories space. Ofcource considering that fans come across all the spectrum of the society, mass price points are always doing well specially in the fashion category.

The growing of retail points through e-retail has opened an avenue of higher price points as well as niche category but high defined quality products.

Emerging categories for licensing

The imagination is the limit for possibilities here – besides the low hanging fruit such as fashion, footwear etc there is a need for the consumer to be able to showcase their allegiance to his/her favorite team across a variety of categories – Invision Brands has always focused on categories beyond the ordinary, infact we have just launched co-branded debit cards.

Needless to say there is a lot more to be done in licensing. Franchise owners need to do more to exploit the full potential for their leagues and see licensing as a program to be vested in for long term to ensure there are fan connect options across various consumer touch points.

Counterfeit merchandise is a problem that envelopes the category – getting merchandise across all price points to beat the bootlegger market and achieve volumes across multiple price points is the key. Also, effectively implement loyalty programs, which will play a part in curbing fakes.

This article has been written by Pankaj Sikka, Founder, Chief Visionary and Brand Strategist, Invision Brand Consulting.

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