Vrinda Oberai : Vrinda Oberai (VO): How important, in your opinion, is the kid’s wear market in India, when it comes to opportunities for Licensing and Merchandising (L&M)? Sandeep Dahiya : Sandeep Dahiya (SD): As a category, kid’ swear will definitely feature amongst the top 3 categories in the L&M space - both from a revenue as well as engagement perspective. Today, kids are style-conscious from a very early age and therefore to engage with them on this category with products that are a good mix of their fantasy and favourite characters is absolutely critical. Vrinda Oberai : VO: What role is Nickelodeon playing, with regards to the L&M opportunities in the country? Sandeep Dahiya : SD: I think we're playing multiple roles in the L&M domain in India. At one end of the spectrum, we're co-creating world-class products and making them accessible to millions of Nicktoon fans and at the other end of the spectrum we're also educating many licensees/potential licensees on the whole gamut of licensing possibilities. L&M is still a nascent market in India and therefore its imperative that, given our experience across all kinds of market in the world, we share that with our partners in India to create a robust licensing plan that spans across categories, across price-points and across distribution chains. Vrinda Oberai : VO: Nickelodeon's recent deal with Lilliput and also, MTV's licensing deal with Metro Shoes - what has been the key driving force behind the same? Sandeep Dahiya : SD: I think the driving force behind any partnership is the same - selecting a partner who's got in-depth knowledge about that particular domain, the best-in-class manufacturing capabilities, robust distribution and above all alignment of business objectives. And the same is true for the above-mentioned partners as well. Lilliput today is the largest player in the kid’s wear category with a network of stores that spans across India. I don't think there's any other player in the industry today that can match their capabilities. Similarly, Mochi - the Shoe Shoppe is a contemporary youth-focused brand that has changed the way footwear is retailed. The Roadies range that they're launching within the next 2-4 weeks is a premium range that's so true to the Roadies attributes. Now, when that's going to be launched across 45 stores in more than 25 cities, its only going to mean one thing - delight to the true Roadies fan. Vrinda Oberai : VO: Are the categories/verticals being expanded (wrt L&M) at Viacom 18 this year? Sandeep Dahiya : SD: While we'd continue to expand in the conventional licensing categories in both kids as well as the youth domain, this year, we'd also be focused on launching our licensing program across a few unconventional categories. Vrinda Oberai : VO: What are Viacom 18's plans for 2011 when we talk about L&M activities? Sandeep Dahiya : SD: Last year has been one of the best years for us, where we've significantly added to our presence in the domain - where today we'd undoubtedly be amongst the top 2 licensors in the kids category and probably the only ones in the youth category. Today, between MTV, Roadies, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, Ninja Hattori, Oggy & the Cockroaches and Nick, we have more than 100 products in the market, more than 300 SKUs, available from in the price-point of Rs 5 to Rs. 7000 and presence in more than 200 cities/towns. Going into 2011-12, we'd further strengthen our existing categories and more importantly launch some unconventional categories. Vrinda Oberai : VO: What has been the criterion behind selecting Lilliput and Mochi Shoes, given the plethora of brands available in the market? What are the criteria that you look at, when it comes to zeroing on a potential licensee? What are the basic implications of these deals? Sandeep Dahiya : SD: The criteria for selecting any of our partners remain as follows: Domain knowledge. Manufacturing/sourcing expertise. Focus on quality - to come out with world-class products. Creativity - so that the range is true to our brands and excites their respective fans. Robust distribution - so that our products are accessible to millions of our consumers. Long-term perspective - to enable a successful licensing program to emerge.
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