STAR India gets aggressive with merchandising and licensing

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | July 18, 2008
STAR Parivaar to tap the dreams and aspirations of viewers to generate revenue

STAR Plus's

entry and phenomenal rise in the Indian television space transformed the small screen into a dream selling machine. But increased competition and a crowded market have led the brand to find other meaningful and engaging ways to establish and strengthen the special emotional bond that it shares with its viewers.

To extend the brand beyond television and to cash in on the increased aspirations of Indians, STAR India created a merchandising and licensing division in the latter half of 2005. Subsequently, the organisation made aggressive plans to become an independent and viable business unit.

Speaking to afaqs!, Nanette D'Sa, senior vice-president, licensing and merchandising, STAR India, elaborates on the initiatives for the division, "Last month, we organised the Star Parivaar Brand Showcase 2008, in which we, along with our partners, showcased a whole new range of products from the STAR Parivaar family. The collection of clothes and jewellery showcased the glamour that is unique to STAR Parivaar and the event was an extension of the hugely popular STAR Parivaar awards."

Nanette D'Sa
Are such standalone events confined to mere visibility and do they turn out to be a publicity tool creating buzz around the brand? D'Sa disagrees and clarifies on the nearly non-existent merchandising market for select products or services in India. She says, "One should have no qualms in admitting that the merchandising market is not strong as of now. But with a rise in the aspirations and incomes of large sections of the population, there exists a considerable business opportunity. The merchandising business has its origins in America. It all started off with the explosion of TV as an entertainment medium in the 1950s. The subsequent growth of the retail model aided by consumerism created a market for branded items and goods."

According to sources within the company, the STAR Parivaar brand is worth Rs 30-35 crore. It aims to expand to Rs 100 crore within a span of two to three years.

D'Sa also busts the myth that the clothing and accessories worn by the characters on screen do not find many takers. In fact, market research proves that there is high demand for the ethnic and traditional wear showcased on TV screens. The need of the hour is to make these available through an organised retail market, instead of leaving potential buyers to the mercy of the unorganised sector.

Customers for the merchandised items are consumers in the age group of 18-40 years who are loyal viewers of the shows and have a taste for fashion and style. Fashion does not necessarily have to be equated with unaffordable prices of branded items. Thus, it is crucial to partner with the right kind of brands.

D'Sa shares that STAR India has tied up with players such as Big Bazaar, Indiaplaza, Home Expressions and Prakash Books. Lifestyle wear retailed at Big Bazaar will provide good quality at reasonable prices. A designer sari worn by Tulsi, the popular character of Kyunki… Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, which costs about Rs 3,000 in the Dadar market, will be available for just Rs 1,500 at Big Bazaar.

Leaving a mark in the organised market for clothing, accessories and lifestyle products is going to be crucial in influencing the success of the merchandised items. Merchandising and licensing are affected by the size of the market and the presence of multiple players. D'Sa says that merchandising as an industry is on the verge of growth. All the factors contributing to growth exist, one only needs to tap into these. If an organisation could succeed in selling entertainment products in the form of fairy tales, it could also sell dreams and aspirations through a line of products.

Merchandising and licensing aim to accomplish two goals. They tap into and fuel the dream of a luxurious lifestyle and, in providing affordable items, gratify and empower a large section of people to live the lives they see on screen.

The merchandising and licensing business operates on the basis of royalty payment. STAR India allows its trade partners to use its name for the products, helps them with visual merchandising and, in return, charges a fixed royalty on the sale of the items. STAR India aims to be present at 1,000 retail outlet stores in 2009.

Prakash Books will bring out a series of cookery books. Earlier, it published a series of story books based on the popular characters and series on STAR Plus. The aim is to exploit STAR Parivaar as a property.

The STAR Parivaar Asia Wedding Fair 2008-09 will be kickstarted in 10 cities in October, travelling to cities such as Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai.

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