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WWE to launch merchandise in India

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media | September 19, 2008
WWE ties up with KMI as an exclusive licensing partner to launch merchandise in India

World & #BANNER1 & # Wrestling Entertainment has inked an exclusive licensing partnership with Kids Media India (KMI), a subsidiary of Spacetoon, for the launch of its merchandise in the Indian market.

WWE apparel and accessories will be available in India in three months, followed by footwear, back-to-school products and stationery. WWE world heavyweight champion Batista has been roped in for the launch of the WWE merchandise.

Ross Walker, director, international consumer products, WWE, in a conversation with afaqs!, says, "India has the second largest number of viewers globally for our programmes. With KMI, we have developed a unique three tier strategy for the Indian apparel market, categorised as premium, mid-tier and mass market, to curb counterfeit products in the market."

Authentic designs created by WWE will be sold in the premium segment. Star Trek creations will be distributed broadly in the mid-tier. The broadest possible distribution network will be present in the mass market segment to ensure that the masses get branded WWE merchandise.

According to Ross, the partnership is expected to significantly propel the annual revenue generated from WWE licensed consumer goods in India from US$1million to US$10 million in the next three years.

Ross Walker

Rajiv SangariWWE is the 37th most lucrative licensing company in the world and has more than 1,000 different products catered by more than 160 licensees, globally generating nearly US$1 billion in retail sales last year. The company was earlier known as Titan Sports, but later changed its name to World Wrestling Federation Entertainment. Recently, it changed its name again and is now known as World Wrestling Entertainment.

The recent entry of mainline TV entertainment companies into the licensing and merchandising market has opened up the market and created opportunities for organised retail in the country.

Talking about KMI's decision to enter into this partnership, Rajiv Sangari, managing director and chief executive officer, KMI, says, "the Indian licensing and merchandising market is currently estimated at Rs 1,800 crore. The merchandising industry is poised to grow at 15-20 per cent per year for the next three years. We have a very wide portfolio and with our tieup with WWE, we have moved from cartoon licensing to sports licensing."

The target group for the merchandise will be the eight-45 plus age group. "There will be two markets - primary and secondary. The TG for the primary market will be the age group of eight-22 years, whereas the secondary market will include the 45-plus customers," adds Sangari.

KMI is the country's leading player in the licensing and merchandising industry with a portfolio of characters ranging from Spiderman, X-Men, The Hulk, Iron Man, Ghost Rider and Captain America, and Asian characters such as Doraemon, Shinchan, Digimon, Dragon Ball Z and Ninja Turtles.

The first licensee for WWE consumer products in the Indian market will be Star Trek, a local subsidiary of Bioworld Merchandising headquartered in the US. In an official communique, Raj Mallick, president, Bioworld, says, "We will invest in design and sampling to have a strong product offering of authentic merchandise and also support the merchandise programme with marketing and advertising specifically targeting the Indian consumer."

Mallick adds, "We will also invest and partner with key retailers to boost awareness about authentic WWE products."

To promote this initiative, many marketing and advertising strategies are being planned by the company. Ground level activities and big promotions are being planned. Two WWE stars will be brought to India every year as a part of the promotional campaign. Other promotional licence deals are also being finalised with brands associated with kids and youngsters. There are talks of live WWE events, too.

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