Established in 1916, PGA of America is world’s largest sports organization with overall presence in more than 35 countries. In an exclusive conversation with Arjun Chowdri, Chief Innovation Officer at PGA of America, throws light on India strategy of this sports organisation.
Kindly shed light on journey of PGA(The Professional Golfers Association of America) of America with brand licensing globally? Also, what are your immediate plans to start PGA licensing program in India
Over the past few years we’verecognized the tremendous growth opportunity in golf globally. We are focused on positioning the PGA of America and its Members at the forefront of driving that growth. As we look to grow this global influence, not only are we looking to create more opportunities for PGA of America Members in international markets such as India, but also focused on developing commercial partnerships with companies and organizations that share our mission forgrowing the sport. To date, we have developed partnershipswith resorts, golf instruction companies,education institutions, apparel manufacturers and media. Given the growth of the Indian market, we are actively seeking out partners across these spaces.
How, according to you, has the Indian market evolved to explore tour licensing? How hopeful you are in licensing out a non-cricket IP in a country that has been known to be obsessed with cricket?
I had the personal opportunity to be involved in the inaugural year of the IPL. It is India’s obsession with cricket that has helped to establish businesses in the sports industry such as those developed with the founding of the IPL. Other sports such as basketball and football have been able to benefit from this infrastructure, and golf is not far behind boasting one of the highest rates of golf course openings in the world (around 40 developments, either underway or projected last year) and success of young players such as Anirban Lahiri and Jr. PGA Champion Akshay Bhatia.
What are the initial product categories that you are looking to foray into through licensing? Are you planning to foray into any other non-conventional category?
We are focused on traditional retail licensing products such as apparel and accessories but are also very open to non-conventional ways that can help grow the sport, such as the licensing of academies and golf education.
What is your strategy to select licensee? What would the distribution strategy for PGA merchandise in India? Also, how do you rationalize the role of Bradford in implementing the licensing program?
Our selection criteria is two-fold: the partner holding a high reputation in the market and the partner having a commitment to help us grow our brand and the sport. We selected Bradford because of their expertise in this industry and their long-standing history in the India market. As distribution strategies vary by market and category and are continually evolving, we evaluate this on a case-by-case basis.
What is your ROI/ growth rate as a licensor worldwide?
The objectives of any licensing initiatives we undertake are consistent with our mission which is to elevate the golf profession and grow the sport of golf.
According to you, what are the bottlenecks in the domain of sports licensing in India, both from the per say of market and the licensees
The PGA of America brand is synonymous with a commitment to quality and to be a leader in golf. Established distribution channels and prior success for global sports brands already in Indiashow a pathway to success for the golf licensees.
Given the advent of bevy of global sports IPs in Indian retail ecosystem during past couple of years, what are your strategies to carve a niche for PGA of America in India.
The unique aspect to golf is that it is not only a sport to play and watch, but also a lifestyle. We believe by positioning the PGA of America as a lifestyle brand, we will be able to resonate with the Indian market and expose more people to the brand and sport.