Indian businesses of all sizes have been capitalising on the popularity of cricket. SMBStory brings you five exclusive stories of Indian brands that have seen success by adopting this approach.Rishabh Mansur
Indians can never get enough of cricket. After the Indian Premier League (IPL) concluded in May, we already have the next major cricket competition: the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
Hosted in England and Wales, the tournament is grabbing millions of eyeballs in our cricket-crazy nation. One of the world's most viewed sporting events, the tournament is considered the flagship event of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
And whichever team emerges as champions, Indians will never stop watching cricket. This omnipresent demand makes cricket a great industry or sector to do business in.
For a long time now, Indian businesses of all sizes have been capitalising on these opportunities. Some of them make and sell cricket products like bats, helmets, or pads while the others sell travel packages to fans who want to visit cricket stadiums abroad. And, the others onboard cricketers to be their brand ambassadors and advertise their products.
Here are five Indian businesses that are tapping into India's cricket craze in unique and innovative ways:
Under Nikhil Sen's leadership, cookie maker Unibic India conducted the first T20 cricket tournament recognised by the BCCI - the ‘Unibic Twenty 20 Bradman Cup,’ in 2005.
“It cost us a lot of money and resources, but it turned out to be a fantastic opportunity for us to gain greater visibility and an experience to see notable cricketers at their game,” he explains.
In the face of stiff competition from Parle, ITC and Britannia, Unibic India quickly grew into an 800-plus member team, and became the fastest-growing cookie brand in the country, clocking an operating income of above Rs 200 crore last year.
Unibic also entered into a partnership with the Bradman Foundation and directed two percent of Bradman Chocolate Chip cookies to projects supporting the cricket dreams of underprivileged children to make their cricket dreams a reality.
Started in 1986 by Sanjay Gupta's father, Delhi-based APL Apollo Tubes has over 1,000 steel products and uses a unique Direct Forming Technology (DFT). In an attempt to resonate with the spirit of sportsmen, the Rs 5,334 crore turnover company became the jersey sponsor (back) for IPL team Delhi Capitals in 2019.
Sanjay Gupta, Chief Managing Director, APL Apollo, says:
“The IPL offers maximum reach and generates a strong mass connect and ensures visibility. We want to reach out to millions of IPL fans through this association.”
He adds, "To win IPL, teams need not only strength but also mental resilience. Akin to infrastructural needs vis-a-vis steel, the inner strength of players is pertinent to fight back and give their best during the game.”
Kolkata-based Shyam Steels is a Rs 2,500 crore turnover company which employs over 5,000 people and provides TMT steel rebars to Indian Oil, Essar, L&T, and Reliance Infrastructure for their various projects.
To stay relevant in the digital era, Shyam Steel has enlisted India cricket captain Virat Kohli and his wife and Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma to advertise them. The Shyam Steel ads have the tagline ‘Perfect Balance of Strength and Flexibility’ and make a comparison with love keeping Virushka together and the company’s steel bars holding homes together.
"As they are one of the best in their respective fields, we thought they could represent us better. So we choose Virushka to represent Shyam Steel as one of the best TMT producers for anyone to build their dream house," the board says.
Arindam Aggarwal from Lucknow had no background in sports manufacturing, but he converted his passion for cricket and six years of research into a profit-making business despite the huge competition in India’s cricket bat manufacturing sector.
Arindam says: “Only a handful of people in India claim to import English willow directly from the UK; we are one of them. A2 became the first and the only Indian cricket bat manufacturing brand to be advertised on the television by various players, within the first six months of inception.”
A2 cricket also makes specially-crafted cricket gloves and leg guards. Arindam's vision is to make Lucknow the hub of premium handcrafted cricket bat manufacturing.
Maanav Saaraf, 22, whose parents Manoj and Madhulika Saraf founded Kolkata-based Gainwell Travel in 1991, handles digital marketing, corporate relations, Gainwell Sports, and future growth strategies in the business, alongside his father.
Gainwell’s recent digital success has to do with travel packages for the ICC Cricket World Cup.
“The travel packages are being sold on our sports website. Instead of traditional paid digital promotions, we have been making use of influencers such as blogs, question and answer websites such as Quora, and testimonials are being published in various digital media,” Maanav explains.
According to him, this move was successful because of the trust and confidence people place in influencers. For sports travel enthusiasts, influencers indicate genuine sources, and could save fans from buying fake match tickets or getting conned.