From Hemp Apparel to Gaming Chairs: Mumbai Indians' Merchandising Boom
From Hemp Apparel to Gaming Chairs: Mumbai Indians' Merchandising Boom

With Indian Premier League fever gripping cricket fans, the IPL team Mumbai Indians has recently collaborated with multiple brands to create a unique merchandising and licensing program for its fans. From gaming accessories to popcorn, the Reliance-owned franchise is setting the benchmark for the merchandising industry in India.

In 2024, Mumbai Indians collaborated with innovative hemp brands like Ecentric and cutting-edge gaming accessory providers like Cybeart, among others. The full spectrum of licensees now encompasses a wide range of categories, including replica apparel from PlayR, Suditi (Apparel), Fancode (Apparel), Ecentric (Apparel), Celio (Apparel), Skechers (Apparel), EUME (Backpacks and Travel accessories), Cybeart (Gaming chairs), Parksons (Playing Cards), CrunchBox (Popcorn), Chupps (Footwear Sliders), Boldfit (Training Gear), and Dudeme (JIT Apparel), further enhancing the experience of fans. reached out to Mumbai Indians for in-depth insights on its merchandising and licensing deals. Edited excerpts: What will be your go-to marketing strategy for enhancing the sale of Mumbai Indians merchandise in India?

Mumbai Indians: We focus on both online and offline strategies when it comes to making the official licensed merchandise available to the fans. For online, we have our own destination called the MI Shop, which serves as the one-stop shop for our fans. MI Shop is designed in-house and hosted on the Mumbai Indians homepage, aimed at providing a unifying and seamless end-to-end fan experience while catering to its increasing pan-India merchandise demand. It offers an intuitive interface, streamlined ordering experience, and a comprehensive selection of merchandise. We have some exclusive player edition merchandise, including the official season jersey, which fans can shop for.

For offline, we have a presence at various locations like malls, stadiums, corporate parks, etc. Our licensees also contribute heavily in offline as well as online sales through their own distribution channels. To summarize, creating multiple touchpoints for our fans to be able to interact and engage with us – be it through localization, unique partnerships, and collaboration combined with extensive presence online and offline.

IR: Today, merchandising and licensing has become an integral part to enhance brand love. How do such collaborations help Mumbai Indians and the brands that collaborate with you?

MI: There is tremendous opportunity in the overall Licensing & Merchandise (L&M) space if you see how the sports leagues in the western countries leverage their L&M programs to grow their fan bases continuously.

MI fans around the world display their affinity by proudly wearing their team merchandise, and we want to target each and every fan across all age groups and keep attracting new fans who want to be involved with our ecosystem. We stay ahead of the curve by setting up innovative partnerships and coming up with offerings that have never been offered before.

When we launched the MI Shop exclusively, the move was to be future-ready in this digital era. We have witnessed encouraging response on the website, and we foresee the demand for merchandise to grow exponentially in the coming years. While the franchise will continue to work with its licensed partners and their e-commerce network, we are expanding its merchandise range internationally. The idea is to integrate merchandise across various touchpoints such as ticketing, membership, and other social aspects to cross-promote and cross-sell various assets.

IR: Mumbai Indians collaborated with homegrown brands, such as Celio and Chupps, how has that helped these brands to grow?

MI: Central to our success in this arena is our focus on fostering custom-designed partnerships be it with homegrown or traditional brands. With each brand, we ensure that collaborations are tailored to fit the unique size, scale, nature, and USP of each entity. Even across the same categories, the creativity and the concepts are so unique that it helps us covet a diverse set of audience.

This approach not only benefits emerging brands with invaluable exposure and association power but also creates a novelty factor with the fans. We are collaborating with not just homegrown brands but also hyper-local brands, which gives an ode to Mumbai through the Celio collection, which celebrates Aamchi Mumbai. Homegrown brands such as Chupps and Cybeart are spreading wings across multiple IPL teams as well as geographies boosted by the success at Mumbai Indians.

IR: Which other categories is Mumbai Indians exploring to enter with its merchandise?

MI: We are always pushing boundaries by bringing on brands that want to target a wider fan base with their innovative approach. This year, for the first time, Skechers forayed into cricket as the official kit partner, we have Ecentric onboard, which is a sustainable hemp-based apparel brand. Brands such as CrunchBox (Popcorn), Cybeart (Gaming Chairs), Chupps (footwear sliders) tremendously add to the length and breadth of our offerings.

These out-of-the-box partnerships tell us that it’s not necessary for the brands to be from the sports domain. We are open to exploring unique partnerships and collaborations that will excite our fans. Category is not a barrier for us as we look at delighting fans across age groups.

IR: Merchandising market is being majorly affected by counterfeiting. How do you tackle counterfeiting of your team jerseys?

MI: Our focus is to keep encouraging the purchase of the official licensed merchandise to substitute the counterfeits and offer top quality and genuine products to our MI Family. The Official fan jersey is aimed to take on counterfeiting and mass-market fans. To make this possible, we have made jerseys available across multiple price points without having to compromise on the quality. We also have a range of styles available – from jerseys to polos, shirts to T-shirts that fans can own.

Bundling tickets and merchandise within the same price or providing optional add-ons through Bookmyshow, where fans who buy tickets could buy a jersey within the ticketing flow itself has been extremely beneficial. The bundling and multiple options to buy merch have shown tremendous potential in handling the fake merch problem head-on.

IR: How does your sales ratio bifurcation look like for jerseys as a category?

MI: Brands are moving towards an omni-channel experience. While the online channels such as MI Shop give us online reach and first-party customer insights, offline is a channel that we intend on growing for sale volumes. Our licensees are working with quick commerce partners to meet last-minute demand apart from international and other local avenues like the sports stores to cover as much ground as possible. Our online and offline sales are almost 50 percent on both channels.

IR: Which other merchandising category is popular apart from the team jerseys?

MI: Fan merch apparel has been very popular over the years so we keep inventing in that space with new designs, styles, look and feel. However, the Travel Polo, footwear range from Chupps and Backpacks from EUME have been among top favourites. The gaming chairs has been one of most exciting inclusions, which caught a lot of attention and interest from fans and we look forward to building the category. Gaming is a category where we look to build our presence and capture the attention of the next generation of fans that we intend to attract.

IR: Mumbai Indians has collaborated with multiple brands for merchandising, how much revenue will MI generate from these extensions?

MI: Revenue numbers have spiked IPL 23 over IPL 22. We have increased our revenue by 2x and licensee by 3x in 2022-23. However, it is too soon to make a realistic year-on-year comparison to last year as merchandise sales continue and spike across the season. While merchandising remains a strong revenue stream and continues to grow, the real win for us is the shift in fan engagement level. Our efforts are towards bringing something novel to our fan base and giving our partners the platform and freedom to create unique offerings.

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