It is important for sports culture that India’s merchandise market grows: Puma’s Abhishek Ganguly
- Global sports brand Puma has signed a strategic 3-year partnership with
Royal Challengers Bangalore.
- Puma will have exclusive retailing rights to RCB’s take down and replica jerseys.
- We speak to Abhishek Ganguly, Managing Director, PUMA India and Southeast Asia to find out more about brand’s objective behind choosing RCB and growth of merchandising in India.
Indian sports leagues are still young and haven’t created as much of a fan following as their Western counterparts. For example, European and American sports leagues last for eight to nine months in a year and IPL lasts for two to three months. Most of the global football teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid’s merchandising revenue contribution is in the range of 15% to 20% of their total revenue, whereas in case of IPL, this may be less than 5% (as per Duff & Phelps).
So this year, Puma has entered into a 3-year merchandising partnership with Royal Challengers Bangalore. The global sportswear brand aims to accelerate the merchandising market’s growth in our country.
Puma will have exclusive retailing rights to RCB’s take down and replica jerseys, adding pan-India merchandise reach for the franchise across retail and e-commerce channels. The collection will also include a fanwear range of polo tees, shorts, pants, flip flops and caps.
Telling us more what the brand intends to achieve from their partnership with RCB, Abhishek Ganguly, Managing Director, PUMA India and Southeast Asia said, “We want to achieve three things. One, there is a commercial opportunity around merchandising, which we feel is still a bit under indexed in India. The sports culture is still work-in-progress, unlike football teams in more established sports countries. In India’s sports market, the merchandising is at a very nascent stage and we would like to substantially grow that with our RCB Association. We believe that with a global sportswear brand, RCB can really do a lot more on merchandising. And merchandising is very important as a part of fan engagement as well as building the culture of sport because if you follow a team or a player, you'd like to cherish and share merchandise. It's probably the most emotional connect that a fan has with the team. So, we see this as a big opportunity of growth for future. And third, we believe that the RCB fan base is substantial. And we would like to connect with that audience and engage with them.”
According to Licensing International, in 2019, the global licensed sports merchandise market was valued at approximately $292.8 billion, and was forecast to reach a value of 33.99 billion U.S. dollars by 2023. In India, sports merchandising makes revenue of barely $18 million. Now that most fans would be watching the game from home, it would be an additional challenge for the merchandising industry.
Sharing why it is important to boost merchandising for the growth of sports marketing, Ganguly said, “The team merchandise market in India is pretty restricted. Today, it's a Rs 50-60 crore market and we believe that our association can substantially add to this even in the first year. And for sports culture, it is very important that this market grows because this has a trickle-down effect in the overall growth of sports in India, because the more people follow their heroes and their teams, there will be kids who take to sport more seriously, because it creates that emotional connect with their favorite team and their favorite player. So, we believe that this is something that has to grow in India to become a more established sports market.”
Puma’s RCB merchandise will be promoted through its social media platforms, website, exclusive stores, multi-brand channels, large format stores like Lifestyle and Shoppers Stop and even in RCB Bar and Café.
This year also marks Puma's entry in the IPL again. Puma was around for the first few seasons and had exited the league for a while.
According to media reports, Nike, Adidas and Puma were keen to pick up RCB’s kit sponsorship last year as BCCI had decreased the base price to Rs 61 lakh per game, down around 30% from the Rs 88 lakh which Nike was shelling out earlier. With the pandemic, RCB’s value also dropped from Rs 595 crore in 2019 to Rs 536 crore in 2020.
However, in 2020, RCB’s Title Sponsor was Muthoot Fincorp and the other brands associated with the franchise were Myntra, Jio, Exide, Nuvoco, Astral Pipes and Balkrishna Industries Ltd (BKT).
Telling us why Puma chose to partner with RCB, Ganguly said, “We decided to come back to IPL and when we were considering which team to associate with, RCB landed on our table as a very natural choice. First and foremost, we tracked the popularity of the brand. RCB team is popular not just in Bangalore and Karnataka, but across India. And we found it to be one of the most popular and most followed teams. We also saw that it has got some huge social media following, and high engagement rates. So that gave us an idea that the fans really have a strong point of view and association with the club.”
Puma also has a 9-year brand endorsement deal with RCB’s captain Virat Kohli signed in 2017.