I recently received an unusual invite on whatsapp from a live music resto-pub that I have been to in the past. The restaurant was hosting a special ‘sacred’ party, themed on a popular show on Netflix. The interesting thing was this was not a promotional event for the show, but a specially crafted, ticketed event. The invite carried branding and visuals from the show and promised an evening that would be a live experience of the show. As I shared this with our marketing team, we began to discuss the new trends in the licensing space and here are the top 3 we could see were imminent.
This is a trend which is becoming popular across the world. Whether it is the Kellogg’s cereal café, Louis Vuitton restaurants, or closer home, Tinkle (the children’s magazine) birthday parties, or the ‘sacred’ party I mentioned earlier, these experiences allow consumers and fans to experience their favourite brands with all their senses. As our lives get more and more digital and wired, we human beings crave more and more ‘real’ contact whether it with friends or with the stories and brands we love. The need to feel this real contact is almost at a visceral level and the experience in turn brings in much satisfaction. The global success of Kidzania is another fine example of the entertainment and educational value of experiential licensing.
Last year, we inaugurated our very first ACK Alive Centre in Hyderabad allowing children to experience the stories of Amar Chitra Katha through live events and an after school program called Kala Gurukul. We’ve seen tremendous success and are now licensing this out to multiple venues across India. The live events at the centre allow parents to transfer the intangible and invaluable nostalgia from their childhood to their children growing up in a digital, screen-dominated world. Experiential licensing is the opportunity of the future.
Using popular characters to demystify/debunk complicated products is another licensing trend that is only going to grow. It could be the simpleton Suppandi helping explain and sell a boring and complex financial product like a mutual fund or FIFA using characters from the Marvel Universe to educate viewers about strategies and roles in a football game. It could even be creating characters like the adorable Zuzus helping explain mobile phone plans. Given the kind of love the Zuzus received there would be ample opportunity to extend them as a licensing property to other brands. The trend is of characters and IPs being used to help another brand demystify its value proposition and endear itself to consumers.
We were recently approached by a regional milk brand, which is present only in one state of India to license one of our popular characters- the superhero girl Wingstar. As digital media exposes consumers-adults and children in smaller towns and cities to the same content as consumed by their counterparts in metros, smaller brands are waking up to the licensing opportunity- ie what a popular national or international character can do in uplifting the consumer’s experience and affinity for their brands. As we enter this new decade, with so many brands entering Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns in India, this is one trend which is likely to explode.
A decade ago, the average Indian mother was hesitant to pay a 20% premium for a lunch box or school bag simply because it had a sticker of a popular character on it. Today, she is happy to pay this premium for a character-based product, believing it will enthuse her child to finish her meal, bring her more joy and feel a greater sense of belonging with her peers. Furthermore, the Indian parent is now ready to trust the affinity her child feels towards a character and ready to extend it not only to different products but also experiences. It is up to us content creators, licensors and licensees to make the most of this opportunity
Fun times are indeed in store for the Indian content and licensing industry!
This article is authored by Preeti Vyas, President of Amar Chitra Katha Pvt Ltd., Publishers of Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle and National Geographic Traveller. India.