Disney remains at the forefront as the dominant global licensor, boasting timeless and evergreen franchises such as Mickey and Friends, Disney Frozen, Disney Princess, and Marvel’s Avengers. Notably, Stitch has emerged as a standout character this year, contributing to Disney's unique storytelling and differentiated design thinking.
Globally and in India, Disney is actively driving the growth of the licensing industry. In India, the brand spans across more than 145 product categories, including fashion, footwear, accessories, school supplies, toys, packaged foods, and personal care. This extensive presence caters to various age groups, from babies and infants to kids, families, tweens, teens, and young adults. The first generation of Disney children in India is growing into young adults, yet the fan-favorite characters continue to resonate across generations.
Elaborating on Disney's ongoing efforts to collaborate with local and international brands in character merchandising and licensing, Priya Nijhara, Director – Disney Consumer Products, India, expressed excitement about the upcoming year. She says, "The upcoming year will be very exciting for Disney with highly anticipated movies such as Deadpool 3, Mufasa: The Lion King, Inside Out 2, along with the celebration of Donald Duck’s 90th Anniversary and The Lion King’s 30th Anniversary. These tentpole content releases and milestones provide immense opportunities for our consumer products business and fuel the fandom for these beloved characters."
Witnessing a Change
Despite the slow growth of the brand licensing market in India, Disney has witnessed upward growth in the consumer products business for more than a decade. Nijhara noted a paradigm shift, stating, "We have seen a paradigm shift over the years. It was considered a kids-specific business in the earlier years, but that has changed today with business spanning across categories and age groups. Our growth continues in the core categories for kids, such as apparel, back-to-school, and stationery, among others, with our evergreen franchises."
The Indian market has recently witnessed a growing scope for licensing, expanding to multi-age segments, especially among young adults and fans expressing their style and identity through their favorite characters. Brands like Manyavar have reimagined iconic Marvel characters with their signature styles, creating Indian festive wear collections that cater to local preferences and demand.
Disney has made noteworthy collaborations in India with brands such as Virat Kohli’s fashion label Wrogn and renowned fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee. Unique collaborations in the recent past include the automobile category with TVS Motors, consumer electronics with Boat Lifestyle, and youth fashion with The Souled Store.
With new content releases through theatricals and on Disney+ Hotstar, such as Loki and Deadpool, Disney is exploring fresh opportunities for breakthrough product collaborations. Nijhara explained, "In order to appeal to Indian sensibilities, we have also worked with brands to create unique designs and interpretations inspired by local Indian cultures and themes under our ‘Marvel Go Local’ campaign. Marvel has become a pop culture phenomenon in India and a lifestyle brand for the youth. Gen Zs and Millennials are powerful and influential audiences, and Disney has witnessed incredible passion and support for Marvel products."
Comparing the Southeast Asian market with India, Nijhara highlighted, "The merchandising market in India is still in its nascent stage and is constantly evolving. As a business, we cross-share ideas across different markets and tweak them to be most relevant for Indian consumers." She added, "Our focus is on untapped opportunities, and Disney hopes to continue working more closely with local and international brands to unlock the power of character merchandise, licensing, and innovative and unique experiences for consumers in India.