After being in the business for more than five years, theme-based entertainment park Adlabs Imagica has started expanding. The company is launching a theme park in Andhra Pradesh's new capital city Amravati and has plans set foot in other regions.
Sharing more about the plans, Dhimant Bakshi, Jt. CEO, Adlabs Imagica, said, “We recently signed up for a licensing agreement with River Bay Resort for opening a new line of revenue stream in Amravati. We are in an advanced stage of partnership to introduce an entertainment format in the region on a design, build and operate (DBO) model. It is a one-of-a-kind partnership slated for launch soon. This new format furthers our endeavour to grow and expand our brand’s presence across the country. Currently, the Andhra project is at our core focus, wherein we want to ensure that the entertainment and experiences planned fulfils the standards and quality that we offer at Imagica. Discussions are underway with various other stakeholders for more of such partnerships, and we would reveal them soon.”
Adlabs Imagica now receives 1.7 million visitors a year. It maintains a consistent growth of 10% to 12% annually and its merchandise has already become a business of Rs 25 crore.
The brand is now eyeing a stronger presence across India. “Expansion is definitely on the cards, and, at present, we are focused towards establishing multiple franchised partnerships within India to ensure stronger brand presence across the country,” said Bakshi.
But considering the amount of investment the business requires, Imagica has chosen to be just the concept provider and supervisor for its Andhra project.
“The partner is going to bring in the capital, run it on an operational basis; we would be the concept-giver, consultant, providing the best practices, the expertise of setting a project and running the project successfully. Therefore, this would be a zero-capital investment and in return, we would get equity and revenue shares in that entity,” said Raveendra Singh, AVP, Strategy and Marketing, Adlabs Imagica.
Imagica currently has one park on the outskirts of Mumbai. When asked how difficult it is to get visitors to pay, Singh said, “Consumers don’t like to pay a lot and not for something that is not differentiated, therefore, differentiation and content is very relevant. So, we have international concepts in India. That’s why we have had 7.5 million guests to date. But yes, to sustain this business, we need new launches. The strategy that we have used recently is that we have stopped investing in getting ourselves in these new concepts and we have started entering into revenue sharing. Imagica Snow Park, House of Stars, Eyelusion; these three concepts have been brought in by third-party investments. So, all of these new concepts have been launched keeping in mind that we need something to keep refreshing and keep substance for the business. We launched in 2013, and since then, every year, we have been launching a new concept.”
“In theme park as well as in entertainment in general, newness is a very important factor to remain relevant, top-of-mind and have a high recall,” Singh added.
For Imagica, the peak season is during quarter one — April, May and June — and quarter three or the festive season, which is from Dussehra to mid-January. During this period, they experience a high footfall. However, during monsoon, they see a linear footfall and this is also reflected in their marketing campaigns. While they were seen aggressively advertising on TV till 2016, they have remained off mass mediums like TV and print for three years. This year, however, they came back on TV to talk about their new ride.
“TV is a very expensive medium when not used right. Till 2015, we were quite aggressive on TV but then for one year, we were absent on TV after the IPL. Then again in 2018, we announced the launch of the Chota Bheem ride. Everyone now has realised that TV, although it reaches masses, is an expensive medium and use it for certain audiences and certain period only,” said Singh.
However, they have continued to use outdoor extensively as they believe they need large imagery to talk about their brand.
“Over the past three years, our marketing budget has been 15% to 17%. An important change that we made in the last two years is that we started utilising a lot of media barters and media partnership with multiple companies such as partnering with Jio Play Along, wherein we sponsored a lot of their prices and in exchange, we got a lot of visibility on their digital platform. So, we have explored a lot of brand partnerships in the past few years, which helped us to increase visibility without spending much. ATL still accounts for 60%, primarily share of which is outdoors in the form of hoardings, bus travels, airport advertising. Hoardings are important and good visual medium for us because we need large imagery to talk to someone what Imagica is about. Apart from that, we are prevalent on radio, which is a frequency builder or just a reminder. Digital has also played an ever-increasing role, which is now 20%,” said Singh.
While Imagica is just a five-year-old brand, EsselWorld, another amusement park in Mumbai, has been in this area since 1989. EsselWorld gives a tough competition to Imagica with its legacy. However, Singh says Imagica’s uniqueness provides them an edge.
“For different parks, there are different audiences in terms of price and premiums, also the concepts. Yes, it has a legacy of close to three decades now, but definitely, we are the only theme park. We have intellectual property rights for these rides. There’s no direct competition for Imagica.”
In order to stand true to its uniqueness, Imagica also came up with a water park called Aqua Imagica as EsselWorld has Water Kingdom. So is there always a need of a water park to sustain in this amusement business?
“Aqua Imagica helped us build on revenue, but the mainstay or main driver of business is still the theme park. While a water park is scale-able also to some extent and we are also looking for capacity expansion in future for our water park, theme park is still our main business. Also, sustenance cost for maintaining these rides is very minimal,” said Singh.