Brainchild of actor and stand-up comedian Gaurav Gera, YouTube and Instagram character Shopkeeper #Haanji Bhenji has been taking up the internet by storm. The character has close to 46,846 subscribers, 39.9 thousand followers and 582,462 likes. An year after the launch of fan merchandise, the character is all set to mark its presence into some lifestyle categories, revealed Gera in a candid discussion with License India. How has been the response for Shopkeeper merchandise? The main thing was visibility. We had all the products designed, but the main issue was to set them in the market. Right now the things are in place, but I believe people are more excited to see me than the merchandise. What intrigued you to step into licensing arena? The main reason is that I like to do things in proper format and I don’t think anything similar has happened before. All this YouTube licensing is very much there in west, but there is nothing similar in India. Though companies like Being Indian and AIB are doing this, but at individual level, there is no other brand. I wanted to take the properties to market. When I created Shopkeeper and Chutki, for me they were somebody else, they are cartoon characters and it is good to see them in caricature form. Do you think that Indian market is ready for Youtube celebrity licensing? I think YouTube celebrity culture has already started in India, it has to only grow bigger, because what happens in internet is that audiences are glued to celebrities as they seem them every day irrespective of time. And this is one of the reasons why audiences are more connected to internet celebrity than a TV or film person. Talk to us about retail presence of your brand. As of now we have inked licensing pact with Gengercrush.com and Neevov is the latest licensee. Further, we are looking up for more tie-ups with more portals. Also, I am planning to take up merchandise by my own as well. I would love to launch my own online platform because it would be not just about the merchandise, but will also be the one-on-one connect with people. The website will be all in one solution to all needs. Do you plan to add more characters to the series? I do plan to add more characters. When I make videos, there is whole family ready including Chutki, her mother, her boyfriend Suyash, Chutki’s brother, Shopkeeper, Shopkeeper’s son. The whole family is there but not in caricature form yet. But I see it as a family series and addition of more series and artwork is in pipeline. I would like to join with brand that already have a traffic, certain following and dependable website. Also my own merchandise has to be dependable and people should get good quality, shipped in-time. What new categories are you planning to add? I want to add phone covers; they are one of the most important categories. Further I am planning to focus on boxers and pajamas as well.
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