Following the huge success of the licensing program of colorful toons Jaune & Vert in the French speaking Swiss publications, J&V Global has set Indian market on its radar.India seems to have very high potential to grow quickly like China did the last decades, says Christian Zilocchi, the founder of the brand, during a tête-à-tête with License India. J&V Global’s mascot Jaune & Vert have been licensed out to Gingercrush for categories including apparel & accessories. J&V Global has produced and retailed over 30 references (greeting cards, tea bags, mugs, keychains, wax tealights and more) accross French-speaking part of Switzerland.
Talk to us about the journey of Jaune et Vert with brand licensing.
Back in 2004, I created Jaune & Vert while studying at the University of Quebec in Montreal (Canada). With my group, we needed to illustrate a work. When I moved back to Switzerland, I decided to use those characters to illustrate four of my books. The idea of creating merchandise came up and I decided to produce the first official J&V merchandise that is still being sold in Switzerland. Today, over 30 references are sold in Switzerland and now, Jaune & Vert comic strips are published on a daily basis in the most popular free Swiss-French newspaper. As Switzerland is a very small market, especially due to its four official languages, I didn’t have the choice of going international. At the moment, we are in the process of appointing licensing agents and working on J&V’s notoriety on social networks.
What made you think of India as a potential market for Jaune et Vert?
Today, western countries are saturated with huge successes coming mostly from Hollywood in the USA or from the UK that have a very well developed licensing business going on. And, there is no real licensing market in Switzerland. It was necessary for J&V to find the right country where to expend and it needed to have some room for a new brand and characters. India seems to have very high potential to grow quickly like China did the last decades. And J&V has to take this chance!
Why and how has licensing been an effective retail strategy for your brand?
Licensing allows you to be present on all kind of different products without having to produce them our self. We cannot be expert on every market and it was important for us to have local people working with us. Swiss culture is very different from India and in my opinion, it would be a mistake to sell the exact same merchandise in every country. Licensing has the advantage to avoid excessive investments and risks. Licensees based and producing in India know what will work in their market.
What is your ROI/ growth rate as a licensor in India?
As our collaboration in India is very recent, we don’t have this information yet. But there is still a lot of work ahead of us to get a better visibility for Jaune & Vert. Facebook fan base is growing quite fast (30K in barely over one year on www.facebook.com/jayandvee), but we need to find a way to become part of people’s everyday lives.
What are the strategies for pushing Jaune et Vert merchandise into Indian retail ecosystem?
We need to focus on mass product licensing and F&B could be a good way. For us, it is important that the Indians become familiar with our characters. They are colorful and cute. As they are not human neither animals, anyone can identify to them and have its favorite! In Switzerland, we focus on a young adult audience, while in India the target is broader. We try to reach both young children and adults.
What categories are the best suited for this IP?
Jaune & Vert can be applied on any category as long as it fits our ethics. Apparel, toys, video-games, TV shows, cartoons, F&B.
How do you zero upon the ideal licensee for your brand? What are the parameters for doing so?
Our ideal licensee would be the one that can massively distribute J&V licensed items nationwide with a strong physical presence. Today, J&V is a great opportunity for any kind of business that is looking for characters, because our conditions are very accessible compared to well-known brands. Our flexibility allows a licensee to get customized designs of J&V at very interesting conditions that you could never get with strong characters like Mickey Mouse. It is simply a win-win situation!
What new categories are you planning to foray into?
We have already apparel licenses running and more will always be welcomed. New categories like F&B, toys and video-games would be an asset!