Business services Sep, 30 2013

Party with profits

After the ‘big fat Indian weddings’ now it’s the Indian toddlers’ birthdays clamouring for fame as ‘Big fat birthdays’ are becoming a fad. And the showmen behind the stage, “Party suppliers” who are making these birthdays a hit are leavin

By Parina Sood, TFW Bureau
Senior Sub-Editor
Party with profits

In layman terms, Party Suppliers are those who help maximise on the fun, while minimising on the hassles of throwing a party. They provide various fun elements for any and every party, all under one roof. With the rise of theme-based parties and eclectic ideas of celebration, party supplies industry is gaining momentum by the day. Though the concept is quite new to India, it is catching on like a wild fire; rapidly changing lifestyle in urban India (especially the metros) fuelling the demand. With less time on hand to go hunting for various elements to make a party “happening”, an increasing number of people in the metros are opting for party suppliers.

“Growing concept of theme based parties, increasing awareness of renowned cartoon characters, growth in per capita income and busier than ever parents wanting to give everything possible to their children are the main growth drivers,” says Arppit Maheshwari, Founder/Owner, Wanna Party.

Wanna Party came into being in 2011 and within a span of just two years, the brand has opened four stores in India (New Delhi, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Varanasi). The outlets in Mumbai and Varanasi are franchisee owned. With more than 3000 products to choose from, Wanna Party took the franchising route for better management and local connect. “A local can always connect better with a local than an outsider. He/she knows the pulse of the people and their lifestyle and can focus on items that best suit the taste pallet and budget of local people,” opines Maheshwari.

Franchising came in handy for Wanna Party. It helped the brand organise and put procedures and stock systems in place. Also, franchising helped it in market research for introducing new products along with providing financial support for further expansion. The brand promises full support and training to its franchisees, from product planning, marketing activities, product knowledge and store layout to software training and initial management training. Wanna Party also offers to rotate the unsold stock of its franchisees to other stores along with the option of franchisees returning a certain percentage of their unsold stock at the end of the year. Along with its brick-and-mortar stores, the brand has also launched its e-commerce platform, to let people shop online as well.

In fact, many party suppliers are opening up online channels for better customer coverage and some entrants are opting purely for the e-commerce way, like party-anthem.com. “People want to celebrate every occasion/milestone in their lives and make it special for one and all. With everyone being so busy these days, e-commerce is catching on and we believe online shopping is going to be the next big thing in India,” says Shraddha Gandhi, Co-founder, Party-anthem.com. The brand is a “dream project” by a young and dynamic group of friends, with a vision to provide high quality party supplies at affordable prices. It started out just last year with plans to franchise in the coming future.

Challenges

Brand Visibility

The industry is relatively small and largely unorganised. In such a scenario, it is quite a challenge for the brands to promote themselves and make themselves visible. “We have tie-ups with major e-commerce websites and are looking at print and electronic media as our major options”, says Gandhi of Party-anthem.com Maheshwari of Wanna Party adds, “Word of mouth works the best. However, we promote ourselves through exhibitions, mall kiosks, newspaper ads, social media, sms, e-mails etc.”

 To gain more visibility, increasing number of party suppliers are thinking innovatively. Be it tying up with restaurants and hotels (promoting themselves by providing discount coupons to the diners) or joining hands with local bakers, caterers and artists or collaborating with various e-commerce sites; they are going all out to woo the customers.

Unfamiliar concept

Customers and potential customers are not very well-versed with the concept of party supplies. “The most challenging part is educating people about the new-age products and their usage. We have to continuously train our staff and educate them about new products so that they are well aware of the changing trends and can impart the same knowledge to our customers,” explains Maheshwari of Wanna Party.

Mistaken Identity

Many a times, party suppliers are mistaken as event organisers. However, spotting opportunity in this confusion, some brands in the party supplies industry have extended their services to include event management as well. “Since party supplies go hand-in-hand with organising the event, we have now hired full time event managers who execute events as well under our banner,” says Maheshwari.

Customer wary of online shopping

Websites like Party-anthem.com also cite “trust” as a major deficit in online shopping, with customers being more comfortable in shopping at the brick-and–mortar stores. “In India, we believe in what we see. We (websites) have to work a lot to build that trust in our customers and convince them that we deliver exactly what we promise,” says Gandhi of Party-anthem.com.

The Road Ahead

With the trend catching on and the industry being in the nascent stage, there is a lot of untapped potential. Franchisees can sure look forward to early bird benefits. “I think the industry will grow rapidly. From invites to return gifts, everything needs to be co-ordinated. Almost all top e-commerce giants like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Groupon, Baby Oye and First Cry have approached us to sell on their portal. People are increasingly becoming aware of theme parties and different accessories that add a lot of fun and excitement in the parties,” envisions Maheshwari of Wanna Party.

Wanna Party Franchise facts

Investment

Area

RoI

Break-even

Expansion plans

Rs 10 – 20 lakh

500 – 1250 sq. ft.

75%

18 months

30 – 50 stores in the next five years

Related: Gaining through technology solutions

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