No questions that eCommerce has been the growth driver in fashion segment that has been dealing with the issues of distribution despite aspirational consumers. Especially in the case of licensing merchandise, eCommerce has been a boon for the licensees as well as licensors. Sensing the enormous potential offered by licensing industry, eCommerce players have donned the hat of a licensee with their in-house brands. In a candid conversation with Gargi Bhardwaj of License India, Abhijeet Dabas, Senior VP- Brand Director, Myntra briefs why Myntra has been on the favorites list of licensors and has been an exclusive retail partner for a plethora of licensed merchandise range.
As compared to other eRetailers, Myntra has been most active in licensing industry. What makes you think that it is an effective strategy for Myntra?
We have an in-house brand Kook n Keech which does a lot in terms of character based merchandise. We have been doing that for the last couple of years. If you look at licensing as a business in general, there has been three problems why it is not picked up and why we have a lot of counterfeits. The first problem is asymmetry. Back in the days when a movie released in the US, it would take a good couple of months before even the people of India would come to know about it. Now you are in the age where releases are simultaneous, people are aware through the internet, thus addressing the first issue. The second problem was distribution, people have always loved the characters, but they were not able to find the original merchandise, which is why a lot of local and counterfeit products flooded the market. And third was the problem of price-points as official merchandise use to be priced higher than the generic ones. Now we have a platform where distribution is not a problem, the information is readily available. The only problem was to create a product that uses the licenses which already enjoy a brand recall at an affordable price. That is where we sensed an opportunity.
Talk to us about the recent licensing deals at Myntra.
More than recent deals, I’d talk about recent success stories on product licensing front. Under the brand Kook n Keech, we launched a line of civil wars which was Captain America vs. Iron Man movie. We launched a tropical line weeks before the launch of the movie released. We worked closely with Disney and Marvel and the range did very well. Another range that we did was of Suicide Squad movie where we had all villains’ right from Harley Quinn to Joker. Again we did two ranges for kids under our brand YK for Jungle Book and Finding Dory. All of them have been a huge success for us.
Why is Myntra an ideal licensee for any brand?
It is because Myntra is today the leading destination for fashion in India. And Flipkart, Myntra and Jabong put together, today own 70 per cent of the online fashion market which is growing at record speed. If you look at all categories with eCommerce, fashion is the fastest growing. While overall fashion industry in India is estimated to grow at 11-12 per cent, fashion online is supposed to grow four-fold from where it is now. That could be one of the reasons why people want to go exclusively with Myntra. Being a vertical fashion player, we don’t focus on a lot of many categories and only sell fashion. It is in that sense possible for us to create an experience which is much tailored to fashion. For those of us who have bought fashion from Shopper Stop vs. Big Bazaar, they would find very different shopping experience at the former that focuses only on fashion. So as compared to horizontal players for whom fashion is one of the many categories, Myntra does only fashion which always lends itself to providing better consumer experience.
How do you intend to address the counterfeit market?
Kook n Keech also makes T-shirts for Rs 499 to Rs 699. If it is that affordable then the problem of affordability that drives counterfeit, is addressed. And a credit to growing count of smartphone users, distribution is no more an issue. I am sure counterfeits will go down quickly.
What is your take on the exclusive deals that Myntra is opting for?
In many cases, when we believe in a particular franchise or brand, we want to be the destination where people come looking for that brand. This is what makes us go out and talk to licensees and get the brand exclusively on Myntra because we know there is an audience that specifically looks for that brand. What we do in return is we disproportionately invest our energy, give them front end on our app, try to do the best job of cataloging images etc. we from our side also make things happen for the exclusive partners.
How do you aim to carve a niche for Myntra among a bevy of licensees in the market?
There was a time when people used to slap logos on T-shirt and I think Batman logo still commands a big market, but it is exactly those kinds of products which you will also find counterfeited. So the task for a good licensee is to actually use different elements from a character franchise, movie franchise and interpret in different ways on the product. For instance, for the movie Suicide Squad there is a line ‘In Squad, we trust’. That T-shirt has been selling like hot-cakes on our portal. Similarly, we did a T-shirt for Captain America: Civil Wars which says “Team Cap” and had half shield. Another T-shirt which said, “Team Iron Man” had half mask of Iron Man on it. That is our job to pick out elements that will work great on different products and that actually is going so wide thus becoming impossible for counterfeit manufacturers.