MUMBAI: In a first for any IPL team, Diageo-owned Bengaluru franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) has decided to explore retail merchandise of licensed products globally, as a potential revenue stream. The team aims to cash in on the popularity of cricket in India, brand RCB, and marquee player Virat Kohli.
RCB has signed Black White Orange Brand as the global licensing partner and has also roped in knitwear brand Status Quo to launch apparel range. Black White Orange will expand the merchandise into figurines, mobile covers, back-to-school product range and more in the coming months.
The first to hit the stores will be lifestyle fashion apparels, including t-shirts, under RCB athleisure. This will be for the first time that any IPL team has an apparel range beyond the traditional offering of player and fan kits.
“While the IPL season is over, the journey is not. And we want to build RCB as a lifestyle brand, which remains relevant throughout the year and not just during the two months when IPL is on,” Amrit Thomas, chairman, RCB and CMO, Diageo India, told ET.
Thomas says the merchandise will allow the team to build a stronger bond with fans, who form the true force behind the franchise. “Each of our designs are an extension of the team’s fearless and bold attitude which resonates with the youth of today.”
He added that along with Black White Orange, RCB will be crafting different types of unique merchandising categories to be retailed to fans and the first milestone is the launch of RCB Athleisure Wear.
The RCB Autumn-Winter 2017 will have about 24 options and Status Quo is manufacturing around 20,000-25,000 pieces of merchandise. Later, when IPL’s next season kicks off, the Spring-Summer collection will be launched which will see over 37 options and 40,000-50,000 pieces in market.
While sports is one of the largest areas of licensing globally, according to data from International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA), it constitutes a miniscule role with a mere 1.3% of the total sales of licensed merchandise. Last year, Indian retail sales of licenced products was at $1.4 billion, of which only $18 million was garnered by sports merchandise. Globally, sports retail sales make up $25.3 billion, which constituted 9.6% of the overall $262.9 billion of global retail sales of licensed merchandise.
Jatin Paranjape, former cricketer, who headed sports marketing for cricket in India for Nike, feels that sports merchandise is a brand extension for business esses. “It’s an on-demand economy. Fans love to consume sport and want to access part of their heroes. Football clubs internationally have proved the business model successfully.”
Paranjape added that while in India it’s still small, it is a business whose time has come. “Fans are ready and leagues are there. This sports merchandise business will soon take off. And you look at the headroom there is, if the pricing is right.”
“Cricket is one of the biggest attractions in India and IPL is one of the biggest sporting events in the world. Still, nobody has exploited sports merchandising properly,” said Bhavik Vora, CEO at Black White Orange Brands.
“With RCB, we have big plans. It is one of the most popular teams and it’s the right time to extend this franchise to various touch points. Our extensive merchandise programme will include apparels, figurines, mobile covers, and back-to-school products. We are looking at exploring 10-12 different categories” Vora added.
Bobby Arora, director, Status Quo, said, “The fan following for RCB team is phenomenal and we are expecting the fans would give a similar response to the apparel collection. This is the first time any brand has done an official lifestyle fashion apparel collection for a team and we are really excited to see how our customers will react to the collection.”