Stay Ahead of the Game: Key Licensing Trends in India

From digitalisation to building trust, these trends can help you successfully run your licensing program

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From sipping coffee from your favourite Game of Thrones mug to shopping online from  Hrithik Roshan’s clothing in line HRX to watching  The Angry Birds Movie in the closest cinema hall, we all are hooked on to a brand, be it a celebrity, a web series or even a character. This is what drives the licensing industry.


The Indian licensing industry is poised at roughly around USD 1476 million, however, it is widely believed if done right the segment has the potential to grown multifold.

At the recently held India Licensing Expo 2018, global experts shared key licensing trends with Entrepreneur India.

#1: Influencers and Celebrities

Jiggy George, Founding Partner, Mojo Star believes this is going to be trending in the coming year, however for it to work out it has to be done right.

“ Influencers and celebrities cannot be done in the absence of product, so, there should be a greater focus on product marrying it with a more long-term relationship rather than something short-term and tactile,” he said.

While on the other side, Actor Karan Tacker, who is also a dancer and a host, opines that with digital opening up an arc, the gap between the end users/ audiences/ consumers and the brands with celebrities has been bridged really well.

According to the actor, artists understand the demographics that consumes them and this is what, the brand should consider leveraging on while marketing the licensing range.

“I believe that licensees should keep the DNA of a celebrity in mind while creating a line. This creates a long-lasting relationship with the end user and the brand itself,” he added.

#2: Agility

This is the age of disruption and even though planning is the key to the successful licensing program,  what is planned might not pan out.

Hence, Suparn S Varma, Co-founder, Katha Pictures suggests licensees to be flexible enough to change the plan as the trends start changing.

“(S)He has to be technologically very savvy or at least aware. Try to work one step ahead or be open to change. Once you do that, you are ahead of the change. If you don’t, then you are stuck in certain set ways,” he advised.

#3: Rise of Non-Traditional Segment

Meanwhile, Siddharth Chury, Senior Director, Global Merchandising & Licensing, NBA India is seeing a lot of growth in the non-traditional licensing space, especially in segments like gaming, fantasy or OTT syndicated content.

Elaborating on the trend, he says “Traditionally, one would look at apparel or footwear to be the primary growth drivers. However, often I have seen brands takeoff the electronics space. That's kind of delivering completely new industry space for licensors.”

#4: Print on Demand

Simo Hamalainen, SVP, Brand Licensing, Rovio  thinks digitalization is a massive trend and it affects the entire industry in variable ways.

“I think one of the key trends, which even we have tapped into with Amazon, is print on demand which clubbed with 3D printing and with the right logistics - in few years’ time will revolutionize the way licensing works,” he added.

#5: E-retail

E-commerce or e-retail is been disrupting every other consumer product sector and licensing is not immune to it.

Vishal Sinha, Business Head, Sanjeev Kapoor Brands rightly points out that, “ E-commerce’s been a great enabler for licensing as a category. As a platform, it establishes reach and has reduced multiple entry barriers for licensees.”

#6: Focus on Long-term Relationship

Dan Frugtniet, Vice President (Licensing & Business Development),  Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products suggest entrepreneurs operating in the licensing sector to focus on the long-term relationship.

“People often sign the deal and think we don't need to worry about that relationship. But you need to start building that trust and invest in a long-term partnership,” he added.

#7: Big Data

Big Data, along with other new age technologies like artificial intelligence, is the buzz of this decade. For both licensing and licensors, it is really important to understand the perspective of the consumer.

“Gone are the days where brand owners would just follow set rules and their brands are static. Today, the consumers are the centre of every brand conversation and brand owners need to pay attention to it, ” Maura Regan, President, LIMA explained.

Vanita D'souza

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

I am a Mumbai-based journalist and have worked with media companies like The Dollar Business Magazine, Business Standard, etc.While on the other side, I am an avid reader who is a travel freak and has accepted foodism as my religion.