Bandai Namco India has been upping the ante in recent times within the country. They are coming up with lots of new offerings for anime fans.
After overlooking the set-up of a largely successful pop-up store at Mumbai Comic Con, the merchandising conglomerate replicated the strategy, setting up a pop-up store at Nexus Seawoods Mall in Navi Mumbai.
Additionally, a first, they showed an intent to understand the pulse of the customers in India by organizing meet-and-greet events with fans.
The first one took place in Delhi, followed by the event in Navi Mumbai, which Animehunch Pvt Ltd had a chance to attend.
At the said event, Mr. Dewang Ruke from Animehunch Team had a chat with Mr. Takeo Yagi who is the Director & COO of Bandai Namco India Pvt. Ltd., and talk about the exciting future of the company in the country along with what Indian Anime fans can expect from the merchandising giant in the future!
Check out the interview below!
Dewang: First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
Yagi: My pleasure.
Dewang: It’s been 8 years since Bandai Namco India Private Limited was established. How was the journey in these past years?
Yagi: We were established in 2015. At that time, I think, it was a completely different situation regarding online consumption.
This dramatically changed in 2016/17/18. And shortly after that, COVID-19 came which disrupted our business just like all businesses globally until the first half of 2021.
For one and a half years we had been struggling. But even then, I didn’t want to give up on the business in India.
During COVID-19, we were located in Seawoods, Navi Mumbai and we were operating the big Namco (outlet/store). But most importantly, after the COVID-19 pandemic, we could set up the Pop-Up Store, (the) official pop-up Store for the first time over here after the Mumbai Comic Con.
So it’s like everything began from scratch once again. And I am excited to start the expansion of Bandai Namco India’s Business in India’s Market.
I’m also excited to meet with Fans in person because finally, the COVID-19 situation is over. So we can meet with our fans in person. Our Bandai Namco Group has a mid-term vision for the entire group companies (across all the companies under Bandai Namco Group) all over the world. That is “Connect with Fans”.
Dewang: So it’s like the building blocks for creating a community?
Yagi: We would like to make new entertainment and network our services for our merchandise.
Dewang: As you mentioned, Bandai Namco had a stall over at Mumbai Comic Con. How was the response from fans to it?
Yagi: It was beyond my expectation, fortunately. Everybody who had come to our booth at Mumbai Comic Con had a passion which I loved very much. I was so impressed with the situation at the Mumbai Comic Con, it was an overwhelming response.
It gave me confidence. It made me realize once again that in this country there are so many fans who love Japanese Anime and manga and also their IPs. Which is something we can provide and arrange for their entire life.
Dewang: How is the response to the Pop-up store here at the mall?
Yagi: It’s different from the situation that happened at Mumbai Comic Con, because as you know, at Comic-Con there are thousands or tens of (thousands) more people and a majority of them are fans of anime and movies. Around 60,000 people have come for the two days. It was an amazing situation over there.
But as you see here, in this shopping mall, the majority audience over here is unaware of Japanese animation.
But still, people have come inside our pop-up store and then they just look around and take some photos or videos and upload them on their Instagram account. Of course, it’s like a promotion.
Dewang: Do you think the price of the merchandise could be a factor in the sales?
Yagi: I don’t think the price is a main factor, and that’s primarily because of the behaviour of the customers who had come to purchase the merchandise.
Because at Mumbai Comic Con, as far as I remember, there were no guests who had asked us the price for the merchandise.
Dewang: That’s Great!
Dewang: Based on the response that you have received, do you think that a physical store dedicated to anime merchandise could be a possibility in the future?
Yagi: It would be a wonderful situation.
Dewang: I also noticed that Bandai Namco has started a franchisee part/point on the website.
Yagi: We are now open to speaking to people who want to be a part of our franchise for the Bandai Namco store in India. And it’s not just that, we also have planned events for the future in India.
Dewang: Oh that’s interesting. Can we get more details on that?
Yagi: As of today, we have started to communicate directly with anime fans in India. We have also started our official Instagram account. So I hope that through social media more and more direct communication between our fans and the Bandai Namco India team will happen in the future.
Dewang: Counterfeiting has been a bane to the anime merchandise industry in India. We can see that there are lots of counterfeit anime products, not just in the streets, but even at Mumbai Comic Con. What is Bandai Namco’s strategy or plans to overcome this?
Yagi: It’s not just strategies but we are also undertaking activities. We are appealing (to the audience) and asking them to buy genuine anime merchandise.
Even by setting up pop-up stores in key locations, we are encouraging people to buy officially licensed products of the anime they love and not grab counterfeit products from other stores.
But there’s a slew of counterfeit merchandise in the market. We have also undertaken the activity of communicating with authorities.
Dewang: Since the majority of the target audience in India falls in the school-going and college-going students bracket, they also have a real interest in clothing and other apparel apart from figurines and merchandise. So is there a possibility that Bandai Namco could get into the apparel industry in the future?
Yagi: I think there are opportunities for us to approach to apparel industries in India in the future. There are some more options we can explore in this market to increase the number of categories.
But for that, I think we need the voice of customers, the voice of fans. If there is some good, demand and also request we will consider it [apparel].
Dewang: Thank you so much, Sir.
Yagi: Thank you so much, Dewang-san.