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India’s Radio One gets distinctive

concert tickets

A few days ago I wrote a post inspired by Orion Media’s decision to rebrand their stations in the English Midlands. My central point was that big gestures are increasingly necessary to make a difference.

Now, here’s another example of big, unmissable change in radio.

On India’s highly commoditised, highly competitive FM dial, radio stations slug it out for market share playing largely an identical mix of Bollywood-infused hits and gossipy celebrity news.

As Indian producer and consultant Jardin Lobo explained in a recent edition of the Earshot Creative Review, segmentation has come slowly to the market. Most stations still sound the same.

Why? Well would you want to be the first to shift your positioning off the most popular and lucrative high ground?

Of course not, but it’s inevitable in a maturing market and those who move early with a plan are more likely to be in control of their destiny than those who sit and wait.

Focus is a natural characteristic of market development and is necessary for radio as a whole to maximise revenues and for listeners to enjoy the benefits of choice.

But turning your focus away from any section of your audience is tough. Radio listeners are so close to their favourite stations that a segmentation excercise is like nominating favourite children.

Now, one station in India is embarking on this difficult journey with a language switch and a live music initiative.

Yes, 94.3 Radio One has switched from Hindi to English language in Delhi and Mumbai while building a reputation for its live concerts through a series of events called Live Works.

Vineet Singh Hukmani

The concerts deliver the visibility that drives awareness, recall and trial of Radio One and they generate an additional revenue stream through co-branding with a sponsor and ticket sales.

Cleverly, they also define Radio One’s more distinctive music positioning at a time of change, attracting new listeners who are guaranteed to be in the centre of its new target.

Managing Director Vineet Singh Hukmani (pictured) believes now is the right time to focus and specialise:

 How can you expect clients to believe that you are good at everything? If you cannot showcase your expertise.. it at best can only result in fuzzy brand recall and a momentary good feeling of ‘we can do everything’

It’s too early to know what difference this will make to Radio One’s performance, but it’s another example of radio stations taking giant steps to define the shape of the future market.

Disclosure: I am contracted to the BBC which holds a minority stake in Radio One, India through its commercial subsidiary, BBC Worldwide Ltd. Views expressed are personal.