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David Beckham has always been accused of being a 'shirt seller' -- or more of a marketing asset than a sporting one.
Beckham has done remarkably well on the field but the fact of the matter is that the number of shirts he sells is way beyond the number of goals he scores or the number of assists he provides.
And boy, do his shirts sell! They sell not only in Madrid or Manchester but in Delhi and Mumbai as well. But, lately, Becks has had a lot of competition. Visit an Adidas, Nike or Reebok store and you will know why.
Sports merchandise seems to be quite hot in the Indian market these days. And it is not only football or cricket, but other sports as well.
Adidas has shirts for football clubs such as Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid and does brisk business with PHL jerseys as well.
Nike has the merchandise of a plethora of football clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal, Barcelona and Juventus, along with the Indian cricket team as well as Indian football jerseys.
Reebok has the merchandise of NBA teams as well as the NFL (better known as American football) teams like Raiders and Steelers. So you can find Los Angeles Raiders' jerseys as well as Philadelphia 76ers or Vince Carter's jerseys.
"Teenagers these days are huge fans of sporting merchandise and want to wear their favourite players' or clubs' jerseys," says Sanjay Gangopadhyay, head-marketing, Nike India. It is not only teenagers that are clamouring for these merchandise, people across all age groups look out for this stuff.
For instance, Adidas' Greg Norman range of golfing accessories is quite a hit among middle-aged people. Greg Norman T-shirts or shoes are picked up by a lot of people. The golf range is on the higher side. A simple collar T-shirt is for about Rs 2,500.
Says Hartwin Fedderson, director-marketing, Adidas India, "These are high-quality products and are aimed at a select target audience." But, sometimes, it's not only people who play golf or are interested in the game who pick these up.
The football jerseys are priced a bit higher. For example, a Manchester United jersey would cost around Rs 3,000 and if you want a Cristiano Ronaldo T-shirt, it comes for around Rs 1,000.
But it is not only about jerseys.
Sweatshirts, shorts, caps, wrist bands and even water bottles are very popular among people. The caps are priced around Rs 500 while shorts are around Rs 600 or so.
In this winter season, jackets and sweat shirts are quite hot among fans. An Arsenal eskimo jacket will cost you around Rs 5,000 while a normal sweat shirt is Rs 2,500.
In accessories, bags are very popular. Both shoulder and travel bags are extremely popular. A Liverpool travel bag costs around Rs 2,000 while shoulder bags are around Rs 1,200. (Tip: Check out the Manchester United bag. Looks extremely cool.)
Nike's Michael Jordan range, better known as the Air Jordan range, is still a rage, though it has been years since Jordan retired. "It is not only the name which makes people buy this stuff, it is genuinely higher quality and classy stuff," says Nike's Gangopadhayay. The Jordan shoes start from about Rs 5,000 and go upto Rs 8,000.
The Answer range or Allen Iverson range at Reebok is very popular among basketball fans. It has shoes, sweat shirts, jackets, vests among many other products. The shoes start from Rs 6,000 while the jackets are for about Rs 2,500.
Indian sports merchandise is also getting quite popular. Nike has the Indian cricket team's entire kit including jerseys, tee shirts featuring Yuvraj Singh and Sreesanth, vests and sweat shirts. "Tee shirts bearing Sachin's name are still the most popular but, lately, quite a few Sreesanth jerseys are also being picked up."
Among international athletes, Beckham's Real Madrid jersey at Adidas is very popular and Ronaldino's jersey at Nike is a favourite. However, both Nike and Adidas don't have too many player jerseys and focus on other merchandise as well.
For example, Reebok's cricket pads or bats or Nike's football or basketballs. So what next now for clamouring sports fans in India? Probably L A Galaxy (Beckham's new club) jerseys as soon he steps on the field in L A.
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