Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Marketing - Strategy
TV soaps now turning merchandise
NEW DELHI, May 27
AND soon it may not be Harry Potter, Peanut or The Simpsons on T-shirts or mugs; it could very well be Tulsi with her Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi family or the Bajaj gharana from Kasautii Zindagi Kay. Obviously taking a cue from the West, small screen entertainment channels such as Star India and Sony Entertainment Television (SET) are out to merchandise their soaps and serials.
Soon novels, music CDs and children's accessories based on popular shows will hit the stands. While books on Star Talk and Mirch Masala have already been launched, negotiations are also on to publish Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kasautii Zindagi Kay in the form of novelettes. Earlier, Star had launched Amitabh Ka Khazana during the heydays of Kaun Banega Crorepati.
This was followed by Viva! VCDs, Shaka Laka Boom Boom and Sonpari range of stationery. In addition to this, Star will soon be launching toys, board games and a series of activity books around these shows.
Meanwhile, SET is taking its first steps into merchandising by tying up with Sony Music to release two dance and music albums.
"These albums will give the viewers an opportunity to own a part of the experience and Boogie all day long," a company spokesperson said.
Star officials said the company has managed to build on-air brands, which connect with different audience segments. It now plans to capitalise on that. Sony, meanwhile, maintains that such merchandising is to extend the viewing experience.
Traditionally, popular characters from the US or Germany have dominated the merchandising or licensing industry in India. The concept of using Indian characters is very new and has to be explored to its fullest extent.
"The idea is to first analyse the potential of programmes or brands built on-air and identify key interest areas. This is a consumer-driven business and therefore depending on what the audience likes best, concepts of brand extension are then planned," said a Star India official.Internationally, merchandising of characters of popular television serials is common. For instance, T-shirts, mugs, posters, VCDs of shows such as Friends or Star Wars are common and have done very well. "In India, this is a new concept and the success will depend on how the products are marketed. Also, there is a problem of piracy and fakes, which could eat into the sales of genuine merchandise," said an industry analyst.
MTV has been among the first to get into merchandising. It launched apparel under MTV Style brand. However, this is yet to take off in a big way.
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