What makes Back to School category a hit among brands?

Doraemon has gotten too old for this generation of kids, but Frozen never gets old. For me selling a Doraemon is difficult than selling a Princess or Frozen merchandise, says Samir Virani of Its Our Studio.
Samir Virani, founder, Its Our Studio

Back-to-school, the second most popular category in licensing industry only after fashion, is where most of the characters find their stay. With school reopening after a month, brands are stocking up their back to school paraphernalia. While eCommerce has created ripples in retail industry, this category is least affected, given the target group (kids) that prefer touch and feel over internet, asserted Samir Virani, Founder, Its Our Studio.

Started with an aim to provide a platform for fun, quirky, lifestyle products and accessories from across the world which are used in our daily lifestyle under one roof, the studio has added brands of Disney, Rovio etc to its portfolio of Back to school offering.

How has been the stint of Its Our Studio with licensing?

I started Its Our Studio with an aim to provide a platform for fun, quirky, lifestyle products and accessories from across the world which are used in our daily lifestyle under one roof.

Its Our Studio is also involved in Brand Merchandising and Corporate Gifting. Till date we have worked for various brands like Fox Star Studios, Eros International, Pritish Nandy Communications, Exceed Entertainment, Jade, Maersk, BPW, OPC Asset Management, Lintas India and have done film Merchandising / Media Kits for movies like London Paris Netyork, Don 2, Jannat 2, Shaadi Ke Side Effects to name a few and are constantly working to bring a change in the Merchandising Industry of India.

We have been associated with quite a bit of brands now. We are trying to bring in more brands as and when things work out. We have got brands from UK like SUCK UK, Thingi, Fed, Yubz (Italian), Mufuvu (UK), goodies (Portuguese). We have got properties for Disney portfolio, Rovio, Ferrari, Candy Crush. We are trying to add Tom & Jerry and Mario to our portfolio, but apparently they will take some time.

How is BTS category performing in terms of licensing?

Talking about popularity of licensed products, I think India is just evolving, but the potential is huge. We have got properties like Frozen, Barbie and Chhota Bheem which are popular in terms of kids’ products. Kids relate to such products because they grow with those characters. 

How vital is the role of physical stores while dealing in BTS range?

According to me, eCommerce is at back front while dealing in back to school category as it caters to the kids. Moreover, the touch & feel factor of buying is coming back to the market. Ecommerce is of course there to increase reach, but physical retail helps to understand consumer better. We also organize around 30 to 35 exhibitions per year in order to reach our TG.   

What are the challenges that you face?

Every licensed product has pros and cons. In case of characters, you can’t play  much with the character and the colour codes. So it is very less you can do when it comes to marketing those products because finally what sells is the character irrespective of what background it is on. Another setback is that not everybody can afford a licensed product given the huge competition from Chinese market where similar product is priced at cost one third of the licensed one.

Do the parent companies support in marketing?

They do help us that a certain extent but at last it is the licensee who has to make sure that the sales and volumes reach the threshold for which they have got the license. In case licensee fails to attain the threshold, the brands withdraw the license. However, they help in promoting the product through different digital platforms, marketing collaterals etc.  

How has the demand evolved in this category which is majorly seasonal?

Given the internet accessibility, kids are fortunate enough to understand who their superhero is. Not only child but parents have understood the penchant for a particular property. Limited edition collection is a major hit these days.

The kind of offerings we have at our portal, we are going to have demand throughout the year. We don’t bring things that parents buy only when schools open rather we cater to products required throughout the year like stationary.

What changes do you see in consumer behavior as compared to say five years ago?

Now the kids have got way too smart because of internet exposure and globalization. They exactly know what to use when to use. At the same time there are schools that defer students from bringing cartoon school bags or notebooks in order to bring uniformity.

Now people are more focused at durability of the product rather than looking at it as just stuff. Talking about trends, we have tried to understand the needs of the child, for instance, a Doraemon has gotten too old for this generation of kids, but Frozen never gets old. For me selling a Doraemon is difficult than selling a Princess or Frozen merchandise.

Of all homegrown characters, I think Chhota Bhhem is doing tremendously well in India, though you can’t compare it to the likes of Superman and Batman. India would take some time to reach to the sales and volumes of the global superheroes.

 

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