Sweta Pal : Kindly highlight your licensing strategy, given the varied characters in your portfolio. Saugato Bhowmik : We have a portfolio of icons and a key target segment for us include children aged between two and six years, and we reach them via Dora the Explorer. In addition, we also offer new characters related to Nick Jr like Bubble Guppies, Umi Zoomi and, Blue’s Clues, amongst others. We also plan to strengthen this portfolio further by launching a range of edutainment-related products which are aimed at developing cognitive, social, and motor skills, amongst this age group. Apart from that, for children in the age of four and eight years, we offer the popular merchandise related to Ninja Hattori and SpongeBob SquarePants. Also, after a successful launch of ‘action’ figures, vehicles, and play sets, our latest action character - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will help us foray into categories including apparel, stationery, back to school and publishing, amongst others. Sweta Pal : What is Viacom18’s share of the domestic licensing market? Saugato Bhowmik : Viacom18’s consumer products business has shown manifold growth and it is present in more than 50 categories, as well as includes over 60 licensees and a presence with leading retail chains across the country. We recorded a turnover of Rs 250 crore for the previous financial year, and plan to grow it aggressively over the next five years. Sweta Pal : Your expansion plans? Saugato Bhowmik : With regard to third-party licensing, we are keen to acquire rights related to categories like sports, celebrities and films. In addition, Nickelodeon will continue to bring in international content and they would be relevant to children in different age groups. Sweta Pal : Kindly enumerate your most successful licensed merchandising categories. Saugato Bhowmik : Conventional merchandising categories like eye wear, bags, body sprays, consumer electronics and cosmetics, amongst others, along with ‘emerging’ categories like innerwear for both the sexes, and adventure bikes, have been popular. And, as we are entering into third-party licensing, we are also exploring opportunities in categories ranging from toys to apparel, and they would be relevant for consumers in different age groups. Apart from merchandising, we have even used promotional licensing extensively, for instance, Panasonic and Kellogg’s recently leveraged Ninja Hattori for their product marketing strategy. I would like to point out that promotional licensing helps us reach a wider audience as well as enhance our revenue in a short span of time. Sweta Pal : Viacom18 recently acquired merchandising and allied rights for Shaun the Sheep and Peanuts. How have these characters been received by audiences here? Saugato Bhowmik : Shaun the Sheep has been one of the most popular shows on Nickelodeon and it did appear logical for us to acquire merchandising rights from the official international creator Aardman Animations. The response has been wonderful and we’ve got lots of orders from our partners. On the other hand, Peanuts marks our foray into non-Viacom consumer products, and it is an independent business model representing leading global brands in genres that we are not present in. We will shortly launch the first line of products related to this character and are optimistic that it will be popular in India, too. I would like to highlight that these icons further strengthens our licensing portfolio that includes popular characters like SpongeBob Square Pants, Dora the Explorer, Ninja Hattori and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, amongst others.
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