Brand merchandising is at an all-time high thanks to the country's first ever Formula One race. Shirts, jackets and even pillow covers inspired by F1 are selling like hot cakes, especially among youth.
"Since the launch of the latest F1 collection, we have received a positive response from our consumers and we are already seeing a growth in sales. In fact, the collection is already one of the bestsellers at our online shop, www.shop4reebok.com," Sajid Shamim, brand director Reebok India, told IANS.
Sports merchandising is not a new concept in India. Brands have tapped the market big time by associating with cricket, which is like a religion in the country and fans love to imitate their favourite stars in terms of clothes, shoes and other products. In fact, lately youngsters have been buying up football merchandise as well.
However, this is F1's debut in the country and Reebok India, Puma and Party Hunterz and Inkfruit.com are happy with the encouraging response to their associated products.
To tap the F1 craze -- brands are offering a variety of things from shirts, jackets, caps, trousers to household products like sofa covers and pillows.
The Indian F1, called Airtel Grand Prix, is being held from Oct 28 to 30 at the Buddh International Circuit.
Being an official sportswear partner for Force India, Reebok has dedicated a collection of apparel and accessories inspired by the Force India F1 team.
Shamim admits that F1 has always been a niche sport in the country, but he feels it is fast catching up among youth and therefore they plan to cash in on the trend by launching something different in March.
"Yes, we have a dedicated Force India collection and we will be coming out with a new collection next season. The collection will, of course, express the F1 spirit through new and interesting designs and the collection will reach the markets by March 2012," he added.
Another sports major Puma, an official licensing partner for Ferrari and the supplier of team and race wear for Scuderia Ferrari, too has come up with a line of apparel, footwear and accessories.
"We are the official licensees for Ferrari and the Ferrari range is one of our most aspirational and best moving lines. We have seen a lot of interest from consumers because it allows them to own a little bit of the Indian F1 action and support the biggest motor-sporting event that our country has seen till date," Rajiv Mehta, managing director, PUMA India, told IANS.
Sports merchandise is going through an exciting phase and Mehta says, "Next year, you will see a range of Mercedes GP merchandise available at our stores."
Thanks to the metrosexual look, accessories have become an important part of youngsters' wardrobe.
Party Hunterz, a one-stop shop for party accessories, has launched a variety of products -- chequered flags, wigs, drinking helmets and air horns. They have also launched many items for fans to plan F1 home parties such as balloons, table covers, cups and banners.
"To enable fans to enjoy the F1 experience more and live the fun to the fullest, we have launched the line. The buyers are definitely showing interest and we have already seen an upswing in F1 merchandise sales. The sales have especially been high for party supplies such as flags, balloons, table covers and banners," said Aditya Kapur, owner of Party Hunterz.
"After F1, we plan to increase the F1 party supplies range as this is becoming a bigger rage with adults and kids alike for all of their theme parties," Kapur added.
India's first lifestyle online retail brand Inkfruit.com has also jumped on the bandwagon to monetise F1 frenzy. It came out with a trendy collection of t-shirts for the upcoming F1 race and is already out of stock thanks to the overwhelming demand.
"It's been a week since we've launched the F1 designs and the response has been overwhelming. We had almost run out of stock within three days of the tees getting launched! As sales are showing that F1 design is becoming a favourite with buyers, we would definitely like to continue with the designs inspired by the sport," said Kashyap Dalal, CEO, Inkfruit.com.
As sports lovers are buying merchandise and the brands are minting money, international watch-making company Richard Mille has decided to be a part of the big-buck business -- it has launched a limited edition of Felipe Massa Timepiece, specially created for the Indian Grand Prix.
The merchandise can be yours for anything between Rs.250 and Rs.2,28,000!
(Nivedita Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)