As the April 26 release of Avengers: Endgame, the latest movie in the popular Marvel franchise, coincides with the ongoing final season of Game of Thrones (GoT), it’s a great time to be a pop culture merchandiser in India.
After the new season of HBO’s GoT premiered on April 16, sales of T-shirts, coffee mugs, and other products themed on the fantasy show have multiplied at e-commerce firms Myntra, Redwolf, and The Souled Store, which sell its official merchandise in India.
Since the first episode of the season, Myntra’s GoT merchandise sales have doubled, and those at The Souled Store have quadrupled, compared with the whole of March, statements from the companies said.
Customer interest in merchandise peaks sharply when GoT is on-air. Compared with 2018, when the show had a year-long hiatus, Mumbai-based Redwolf’s GoT merchandise sales in April have jumped over 300% by volume.
“This year, Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones were our tentpoles,” said Redwolf founder Ameya Thakur.
Avengers: Endgame will be the fourth and possibly last full-cast instalment of the blockbuster superhero franchise, the highest-grossing in Hollywood history. The advance booking of tickets for the film in India crossed a record 1 million in just over 24 hours, according to the online ticketing platform BookMyShow.
In the run-up to the release, sales of Avengers merchandise have grown 20% this week, Myntra said. While Avengers fans prefer Captain America T-shirts, Tyrion Lannister and Khaleesi T-shirts are the favourites among GoT lovers, the company added.
Licensing of pop-culture merchandise remains a nascent market in India. And counterfeit products, available both in brick-and-mortar stores as well as via third-party sellers on online marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart, are a drain on the revenue of the official merchandisers.
“It’s impossible for us to compete with them on price because we have to pay royalties, and we care more about the quality of our products,” Redwolf’s Thakur said.
Incidentally, Flipkart owns Myntra, which holds the franchise for both GoT and Avengers in India, and is also adversely affected by the knock-off products.
Yet, both Flipkart and Amazon can do more to keep the counterfeiters off their platform, Thakur said, adding that a deathly slow legal system aggravates the problem: “The laws (against counterfeiting) are there, but they aren’t being enforced. No one is going to take this to court because it’s going to drag on for years, and we’ll end up spending more money.”
For now, franchise owners in India are looking to cash in on the next big thing.
Among the anticipated money-makers are the new Spider Man and Star Wars sequels releasing later this year, as well as the recently-announced GoT prequel series that will be set thousands of years before the events of the current season.