September 20, 2014

Hysteria! gets a license

Ask any music lover, and he will vocally explain how difficult it is to get original merchandise of popular rock and ‘metal’ bands like Megadeth, Slayer or Lamb of God. And, if one were to order these items online, the shipping costs to India would make most fans think twice.To fill this niche, Manu Singh and V...

By Shipra

Ask any music lover, and he will vocally explain how difficult it is to get original merchandise of popular rock and ‘metal’ bands like Megadeth, Slayer or Lamb of God. And, if one were to order these items online, the shipping costs to India would make most fans think twice.

To fill this niche, Manu Singh and Vineet Sethi run a chain of stores called Hysteria!, with three stores at Bangalore and one at Pune, coupled with a kiosk at Noida, and plans are underway to expand in the NCR region. The size of the consumer licensed merchandise market in the country was estimated at $ 125 million (nearly Rs 700 crore) at the end of 2011, and is largely dominated by popular children’s products like Disney and Nickelodeon, with adult-centric merchandise largely available in the ‘grey’ market.

Singh and Sethi who had worked for several years at India Inc and were keen on an alternate career, sensed the growth opportunities in this segment of consumer licensing market, and set up their first store in the centre of Bangalore nearly three years ago.

This store was an instant hit and it encouraged these two entrepreneurs to expand their Hysteria! network in Bangalore and Pune and the northern region, but Singh, co-owner, highlighted that the response in non-Bangalore stores for alternative music merchandising has not been that encouraging.

“In NCR, consumers are not that keen on hard rock and ‘metal’ music, and are also price-conscious. However, our character merchandising range including Kiss Zippo lighters, Star Wars coasters and Elvis Presley figurines have been popular with consumers in this market,” said, Manu Singh, co-owner of Hysteria!.

Hysteria! is an authorised distributor for US-based Bioworld Merchandising for Marvel, Hasbro, CBS and Warner Bros, amongst others. Apart from that, Hysteria! also sources licensed merchandise from manufacturers in the US.

Licensing and growth strategy
Hysteria! plans to open more stores in Delhi, NCR as well as Mumbai, and they have also got greater clarity on their merchandising strategy. For instance, given customer preferences, Singh highlights that at their Noida kiosk the emphasis is on character merchandising range and for music fans, they even offer cash on delivery services in the NCR region.

“There is definitely a market for music licensing in the NCR too, but it isn’t big enough to support operations here,” added Singh.

Singh also highlighted that Hysteria’s! foci is on social media and word-of-mouth, as well selling tickets for rock concerts helps build greater awareness of their brand, and they largely try to place themselves in popular hotspots for youth, given the target audience for music licensing products.

Singh emphasised that with their merchandising strategy based on selling “quirky” licensed products, it has helped them to differentiate themselves vis-a-vis competitors who sell popular characters in leading shopping centres across metros.

Hysteria! plans to expand its portfolio of licensed products, and it would like to include iconic brands like Diamond Comics and Raj Comics, and Bollywood hits like Delhi Belly and Dev D. “It’s not just music anymore, we are expanding our range of products that is not available in bigger stores. We want to be the alternate retailers,” concludes Manu.

Bird’s-eye view
Hysteria! offers rock and metal music merchandising, along with popular characters like Kiss Zippo lighters, Star Wars coasters and Elvis Presley figurines

  • Hysteria! is an authorised distributor for US-based Bioworld Merchandising
  • Expansion strategy in NCR, but largely focussed on character merchandising range
  • Plans to expand licensed merchandise portfolio to Bollywood films and comics
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