Recently, the National Basketball Association (NBA) partnered with apparel exporter Suditi Industries for a multi-year merchandising partnership to launch a range of NBA fanwear apparel in India. Earlier NBA had launched the NBA Fantasy game in partnership with Dream11, which is one of India’s largest fantasy gaming company. Another great initiative was the launch of NBA Sneakers, in partnership with Jabong & Myntra. NBAStore.in partner Jabong shared insights of a huge demand for NBA footwear as well. This led to the launch of a vibrant new range of NBA casual sneakers for the first time in India. The sales of NBA merchandise has grown rapidly and have exceeded expectations, the company is looking for a 3x growth in 2019.
In a Candid Chat, Licensing Corner caught up with Siddharth Chury, Senior Director, Global Merchandising & Licensing– NBA India to know more about licensing scenario.
Tie-up with Suditi Industries
NBA was looking out for a licensing partner that had the experience of dealing with this kind of merchandise; a partner that had the power to create a wide range of designs on a regular basis, doing multiple collections in a year in limited quantities; offering the consumer a lot of variety & freshness through the year.
“Suditi emerged as a very strong player in the licensing and IP space. They have created the design and manufacturing capabilities to cater to the needs of brands and consumers and built good relations with retailers in the country. We are truly thrilled to have Suditi as our partners given their expertise and belief in our offering,” states, Siddharth.
There already exists a NBA Fanwear range selling on NBAStore.in- Myntra, Jabong, and Shoppers Stop, and NBA soon plans to launch it in Lifestyle, Central and Brand Factory. By the end of this year it aims to have more than 200 points of sale just from the premium retailers; thanks to the combined strength of Suditi & the NBA.
NBA currently operates merchandise like headwear, bags, socks, watches, sporting goods, etc. It aims to further penetrate into the Indian market and to make NBA merchandise more widely available for existing as well as new fans across the country.
“2019 will see a huge expansion in NBA Fanwear apparel, increasing its presence in premium department stores across India and a significant focus in the launch of our new kids wear apparel. With more than 6 million youth fanbase already in the country, we are equipped to cater the growing demand of our young fans. For the same fanbase, we are also keen to expand in the Back-To-School and Toys & Games categories,” shares Siddharth.
The spin moments
Understanding the demand and the demographics of any market is important. Typically, fans are always looking for the next better option, with what suits their budgets, which also leads to a counterfeit market. If the pricing is not attractive for a fan, he or she will eventually go for the second-best quality in the market. While a licensed product in a store or a mall would cost for INR 500, one will find the same product being sold at the corner of a street for INR 100. NBA’s legal team maintains a strict vigilance on the counterfeit trade, taking legal action wherever necessary to protect its official licensees as well as its consumers.
Commenting on the challenges Siddharth remarks, “Though home-grown IPs or brands are gaining popularity in the country, they are not very successful with penetrating “the international markets in a bigger way.”
He further adds, “The main reason for this is that brands are limiting to their core functions and not extended themselves to different offerings. India is still dominated by traditional and unorganized retailers, who cater to a huge share of consumers, but rarely focus on delivering the right product or experience as per consumer expectations.
Activities in 2019
With more than 17 million fans in India engaging with on a regular basis on social media and other platforms, NBA gets access to the insights of what is it that fans are looking for, are they satisfied with the brand offering, and what more can be offered. These insights eventually drive decisions on new merchandise categories and brand partnerships. NBA is bringing two teams – Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers for preseason games in Mumbai. The NBA India Games 2019, combined with various ancillary events will be the biggest occasion for the league in India.
With respect to programming, this season (2018-19) NBA also launched a new flagship show, NBA Saturday Morning Live (SML). Based on direct feedback from fans and insights from broadcast and digital partners, SML was conceptualized as a much more casual, younger and a vibrant show.
NBA primetime Sundays campaign
NBA has constantly been innovating with reference to their programming offerings as well – be it the NBA mornings, the Hindi commentary games (Swag ka Khel) or now the NBA primetime Sundays. NBA primetime Sundays is a special initiative of the league for the Indian audiences. The campaign focuses on showcasing how NBA fans get an opportunity to enjoy the games with their friends and family – be it at home or at a local bar for these five weeks, at primetime.
“We first introduced primetime games in 2017 and the response was overwhelming. More than 120M viewers tuned-in to NBA programming over the course of the 2017-18 NBA season and more than 3.9M viewers tuned-in to the 2018 NBA Sunday games,” highlights Siddharth.