The next IPL season is months away but the IPL team franchisees are already ready with merchandising strategies. After a complete no-show on this front in the first season, franchisees do not want to miss the opportunity again.
Product range: In Season 1, some teams only started sales after a few matches.
Post IPL, the Rajasthan Royals team has a new licensing and merchandising strategy. “We will float our merchandise much before the next season because we want to build our fan base through these products. We are looking at a new range of products and want to introduce an exclusive collection for children,” says Raghu Iyer, chief marketing officer of Rajasthan Royals.
In the first season, some teams did not even begin merchandise sales till a few matches were over. The Shane Warne-led Rajasthan Royals team, which went on to win the tournament, began selling its jerseys only after winning some matches. Kings XI Punjab, a team that lost in the finals, was among the few teams which sold its gear online.
“It was the first season and our priorities were on getting the sponsorships, choosing the players and, of course, winning matches. We also had just more than a month before the league began to put everything together. We sold T-shirts and left merchandising at just that,” says Iyer.
He says none of the teams did much on the merchandising front because it was difficult to predict how popular IPL would become.
Globally, sport merchandise is huge, with sales of English Premier League and Formula 1 gear earning big bucks for clubs. From Ferrari Raikkonen T-shirts to Lewis Hamilton caps, these cash in on their fan base across age groups.
Deccan Chargers, the franchise owned by Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd, sold only caps and T-shirts in the first season. “The sales aren’t anything to talk about because we didn’t do much,” says N. Krishna, chief financial officer, Deccan Chargers.
Krishna adds that most of the teams underestimated the demand for merchandising as it was difficult for them to gauge how big the fan base would be and how many fans would actually buy the merchandise.
Deccan Chargers, which was in talks with Nike Inc. last season for selling merchandise emblazoned with the team logo, wants to tie up with a popular brand and retail it through their stores for IPL 2009, says Krishna.
A recent study on IPL merchandising conducted by MindShare shows interesting trends. While team jerseys and caps were the most popular items, only 17% of fans across 11 cities bought any IPL team merchandise.
A big chunk, 37%, was not interested in buying merchandise as “it is too short-lived; did not want to spend”.
Also, 49% of fans in Punjab bought Kings XI team merchandise but surprisingly, only 11% of fans in Kolkata bought Kolkata Knight Riders team gear.
A LACKLUSTRE SHOW
17% across 11 cities bought some IPL team merchandise
49% of fans bought Kings XI team merchandise
37% of fans bought Royal Challengers team merchandise
Surprisingly, only 11% of Kolkatans bought KKR stuff
Jerseys and caps were the most popular
37% of fans were not interested in
buying merchandise as ‘it is too
short-lived, did not want to spend’