Some combinations are unbeatable — popcorn and movies, or football matches and a bag of chips. You can’t help reaching for that crunchy stuff as you watch the action on the field. What’s unusual is for a football club to launch its own chips brand. Professional football club Kerala Blasters has just come out with a range of banana chips under the brand name Kravin.

“Perhaps we would be the first football club in the world to come out with an FMCG product to garner additional revenues,” says Nikhil Bhardwaj, the whole-time director of Kerala Blasters Football Club. He says that the club’s main revenue is from advertisements, gate income, TV rights, etc which fluctuates during times of economic volatility.

During the pandemic especially, there was an erosion in revenue. Kerala Blasters is trying to make up the loss through unconventional methods — by launching a slew of consumer products.

“We have a fan base of 10 million digitally and over 25 million log in to view our matches. It makes great sense to leverage the brand with a slew of consumer products,” explains Bhardwaj. “We want to explore the trust that we have built up with the fan base to market the products,” he adds.

According to him, the nostalgia associated with banana chips in the State, and the passion towards the club might prove to be a winning combination.

Celebrating local flavours

According to Lloyd Mathias, Business strategist and investor, who was formerly marketing head of PepsiCo, Motorola and HP Asia, “It is a smart lateral extension using the club’s franchise and popularity to extend its appeal.” Importantly, he points, “It is the category that they are entering into — banana chips that has a natural association with Kerala and also the synergy of ready-to-eat chips which is an ideal accompaniment to watching sports, whether in-stadia or live.”

Initially, the products will be sold in four different flavours (Classic Salted, Peri-Peri, Spanish Tango Tomato, Sour Cream and Onion) across Kerala. It will be available in two different sizes of 25 and 50 gms priced at ₹20 and ₹40 respectively. In the pipeline are more products — extension of chips, sports drinks, chocolates and so on.

Asked how Kravin will stack up against competing products in the market, he said the snacking trends in the country have taken new forms over the years. With rising demand for locally produced products, consumers are always on the lookout for unique and delectable snacks and Kravin hopes to fill that spot.

The chips market, according to him, is highly fragmented in Kerala. The organised market alone is estimated to be ₹800 crore. “Initially we will look at the domestic market but at a later stage will explore the possibilities of expanding overseas,” says Bhardwaj.

The chips are up

“We want to grow commercially as well as meet all future requirements of the club. Our dream is to set up our own facilities with an own stadium for the team and the fans. These visions can be fulfilled only through additional and unconventional new revenue streams,” concludes Bhardwaj.

Mathias is pretty kicked by this move of Kerala Blasters. It might just trigger similar moves by other popular sport franchises — especially the mega IPL franchises like Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings.

As he says, “It is time to capitalise the brand value of franchisees. But how it will play out will have to be seen in the coming days.”