Mumbai: Walk the red carpet with Bollywood celebrities at the annual International Indian Film Academy (Iifa) awards.
In an attempt to attract young people, and promote aggressive bidding as well as the “collectible culture” here, that’s the kind of product online auction platform eBay Inc., California, USA, is selling these days at a starting bid of Re1 on its Indian site.
The effort, launched earlier this year, is part of a new initiative called “Pop Culture”.
And, in a slightly unusual move for the company, which acts as a platform to connect buyers and sellers, eBay India is actively approaching companies such as entertainment firm UTV Software Communications Ltd, online movie store Shemaroo Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, and the Indian Premier League (IPL), to advise them on what could sell.
While collectibles are an important source of revenue for eBay in developed markets—globally, $2.9 billion (about Rs12,360 crore) of its total $59 billion sales in 2007 came from collectibles—technology and lifestyle products account for most of its sales in India.
“We (eBay India) did not have that as a strong DNA earlier, but collectors are fairly important to us now,” said Deepa Thomas, senior manager, Pop Culture, eBay India.
Most collectibles sold on eBay India have been conventional items such as coins and stamps. Through its latest initiative, the company hopes to tap into a market that has no replicable offline shops, but appeals to consumers in the age group of 18-35.
The website has two million registered users in 670 cities in India.
“The idea,” said Thomas, “is to offer products or experiences that are not easily available elsewhere.”
For this, the company has homed in on three categories of collectibles: Experiences, such as a photoshoot with the Bachchan family; autographed memorabilia such as Jodhaa Akbar movie posters signed by actors Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and branded merchandise such as lassi glasses made specially for Kings XI Punjab, the Mohali team of IPL.
The celebrity auctions attract up to 10 times the number of unique visitors when compared with average auctions, the company said. For example, it got 1,000 unique visitors for its auction of a day on the sets of the movie Mere Baap Pehle Aap. Regular auctions draw 120 unique visitors, on an average.
For eBay, which typically charges 5% of the sale value as commission, the spike is not just in visibility but also in revenue.
While it is difficult to ascertain the actual value of celebrity items auctioned, the company said they have often fetched higher prices than consumer goods.