During the IPL tournament’s second season the art of merchandising evolved and products galore were launched in quick succession during the matches. When the products were launched this writer was at the newly inaugurated Bengaluru International Airport and was watching with interest the reaction of fans at the airport shop where merchandise was at display. On prominent display were the T-shirts and shirts with logos of Rajasthan Royals. Customers were leafing through the products with interest, but the price tag deterred them from buying it. T-shirts were priced between Rs.2000-2500 while shirts were above Rs. 2500/-.
An interesting counter poise was offered by one of the shoppers. He remarked that after the IPL gets finished, these products would be available at half the cost in factory sale outlets so why buy them now. Besides, if one was a committed fan, he or she could buy it and wear it in the next season to show his loyalty to the team. This was Indian wisdom at its best, and for the franchise owners it would be one jig saw puzzle that would need all their marketing acumen to break, as the brand merchandizing associated with a game of sports is still to take off in India.
Another incident would buttress the point with emphasis. After the IPL matches were over, the merchandise of Mumbai Indians was available at heavily discounted price in all the Reliance outlets and fans were purchasing it with glee to express their loyalty.
The moot point of whole premise is the costing of merchandising. Exclusivity of a product associated with a team is not the USP, as most of the sponsors sponsoring the teams to cover up their expenses are supporting nearly all the teams in one way or the other. So in such a scenario the brand registration of product associated with a team becomes diffused and in such a scenario the companies having their exclusive products, owing the team are in an enviable position to accentuate their brand positioning.
Viewed from this perspective, Kings XI Punjab is a team that has an exclusive brand associated with it, Dabur, owned by the Burmans, and Mumbai Indians owned by Reliance group of companies, and Chennai Super Kings owned by Indian cements. Among all these the instant association of a fan with a brand could be that with Kings XI Punjab as Dabur’s product Real juices is one of the popular brands in the FMCG category. Is the team management listening?
By: Suman Rai