IPL and The Business of Merchandising

The merchandising game for IPL is not yet strong. Read to know how homegrown lifestyle and activewear brands can leverage this high voltage event.


The jersey number of a player with his/her club’s name printed in bold on the t-shirt is not just a mere piece of fabric or another t-shirt but symbolizes the love and respect of a fan for a player’s dedication and hard work towards the sport. This popularity of a player or a club is being leveraged by various sports to give rise to tangible incomes through merchandising. 

The business of merchandising in India was largely nil before cricket was introduced in India in a club-league format to give a flavour of international standard to the game of cricket resembling the football leagues such as La Liga, Bundesliga, UEFA Champions, etc. 

The IPL merchandise game 

Surprisingly, despite IPLs tremendous popularity spanning over more than a decade in India, is yet to up the merchandising game. IPL merchandise has not been able to monetise at a large scale. The factor behind IPL merchandising being nascent is since it faces stiff competition from duplicate and counterfeit products. Besides, duplicate products Indians have an inclination towards individual players than the team, for instance, the Mumbai Indians team tends to enjoy the merchandise sales because of Sachin Tendulkar while Chennai Super Kings has the Dhoni factor. It could also mean that audience loyalties are easy to shift as soon as the player is picked by a different team for the next season.  

As per a report from Duff and Phelps, the global football teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid their merchandising revenue contributes 15 percent to 20 percent of their total revenue whereas in the case of IPL it is less than 5 percent.

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As per a report from Duff and Phelps, the global football teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid their merchandising revenue contributes 15 percent to 20 percent of their total revenue whereas in the case of IPL it is less than 5 percent.

Pandemic has hurt the Merchandise Sales 

According to a study by Mondaq, the pandemic has slowed the pace of licensing and merchandising business to 3.4 percent as compared to 4.1 percent in 2020, due to less presence of spectators in the stadiums.  In Kolkata, the home of the club Kolkata Knight Riders the merchandise sellers from Maidan have experienced 2020 to be a grim year for merchandise sales since the IPL 2020 was held overseas. 

Fighting the Counterfeit products 

Merchandising is one of the greatest missing links in IPL’s success that hurts the revenues. The low revenue generation from merchandising business has gathered concerns from the organisers to boost it. IPL organisers have decided to fight the menace of counterfeit merchandise by appointing a central agency that will have the license to sell merchandise for the teams, thus keeping a check on the counterfeit products. However, IPL teams have the liberty to partner with any other company.  

E-commerce and Homegrown Activewear Brands for official merchandising in 2020

IPL has been a saviour for many homegrown activewear brands and fashion e-commerce start-ups such as Myntra as they have partnered with IPL teams by striking merchandising deals in the dark times of the pandemic. Their association with IPL teams has ramped up their marketing and promotional opportunities to showcase their products hence, strengthening their clientele. The merchandise consisted of skin-friendly, anti-bacterial, and breathable apparel such as practice jerseys, match jerseys, shorts, fan wear t-shirts, caps, track pants, training kits, and accessories such as wrist bands, masks with club logo embossed, sanitizers, badges, etc. Below is the list of fashion and merchandising deals that happened in 2020.

Will Indian Start-up brands gain self -reliance with IPL? 

India’s largest cricketing event which was backed by Chinese companies were found exiting amid the political tensions brewing between India and China. The exit of bigger companies is opening newer avenues for the Indian start-ups to hop on the business opportunities associated with such high voltage games. As you can see, from the above table many homegrown Indian activewear and lifestyle start-up brands have come forward to bag the deals of merchandising. Under ‘Aatmanirbhar’ initiative of PM Narendra Modi, there is a high probability that such events will look for homegrown brands to partner with and make the start-ups self -reliant. 

Shalmoli Sarkar
Shalmoli Sarkar
An MBA in marketing and a BTech in chemical engineering, Shalmoli writes on marketing strategies and business technology for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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