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Nandan Srinath

Station Head | 03 Jul 2003

“I guess that all the private radio FM stations in Delhi have had a decent run so far on the revenue side. The retail sector has been relatively slower in their adoption of the medium, but we expected that.”

Nandan Srinath, Station Head - Delhi, Radio Mirchi has been a hands on marketing professional with 12 years experience cutting across various cross sections of the industry. Before joining Radio Mirchi in December 2001, he had worked with companies including Coke in GPI in FMCG; Mudra and Corvo Draft Worldwide in database marketing & CRM business; and indya.com in dotcoms. In a candid chat with Akshay Bhatnagar of exchange4media, Nandan Srinath spoke on Radio Mirchi’s performance in Delhi so far, marketing promotions used and the feedback from the listeners.

Q. How has been the experience so far in the last two months of launch in Delhi?

The revenues have been a reasonable success. I guess that all the private radio FM stations in Delhi have had a decent run so far on the revenue side. The retail sector has been relatively slower in their adoption of the medium, but we expected that. It is only a question of time before local businesses start realizing the utility and the effectiveness of the medium in pushing their brands among the consumers and seeing visible offtake. Retail brands need to reach out to their target group which exist in the local city specific market only, and apart from print, radio is the only other active medium which works well for local businesses. Talking of Radio Mirchi, our advertisers have turned out to be our big supporters. They have shown tremendous faith in us that is getting further cemented as they derive a healthy response from their campaigns on our station. The next logical task for us is to now bring new advertisers in our fold besides making our existing advertisers up their spends and airing frequency on Radio Mirchi.

Q. What about programming…?

On the programming front, I think we have arrived at a product mix that is well balanced and makes for excellent listening. The feedback from the listeners has been very encouraging whether it is through direct contact by us or through research studies done by market research agencies. That is the reason that we have not had the need to tamper with our product. Our programming formats, RJs, music mix etc. have connected well with the radio listeners in Delhi. The station is seen as one which is hot, humorous has no inane talk and one that connects with the listener.

Q. …marketing?

In terms of consumer marketing, it’s been a tremendous success. We have had two major promotions so far. First the ‘Kitni Mirchi Hai’ contest, which ran for 10 days, made a big impact in drawing listener’s attention to the brand and involving them with the experience called Radio Mirchi. Secondly, the ‘9-8-3 Kismat Khol De’ contest over 3 weeks generated over 4.9 Lac responses. In fact, the response was so overwhelming that our technology partner, TouchTel, was refusing 1 Lac calls in an hour at times from willing participants. The mobile phone users are also quite active in terms of response. More than 50% of our responses come from 8888 (Indiatimes mobile response service). This contest has achieved its objective; which was to get listeners to connect our frequency 98.3FM with our brand Radio Mirchi. Overall, our marketing executions have helped our brand stay top of mind with consumers, which in turn has helped us stay on top of the listenership numbers in this market.

Q. TOI Group initiated the strategy of selling Times of India and Navbharat Times at a combination monthly price of Rs. 98.3 which incidentally (or intentionally) matches with your frequency. So the promotions across inhouse media platforms are playing a key role in making Radio Mirchi a success?

You are referring to the Garma-Garam offer from TOI and NBT. This promotion is purely aimed at increasing the circulation of those print brands. And the offer has got nothing to do with Radio Mirchi’s promotions. The price of Rs.98.3 was purely incidental to the promotion.

Q. … But the Garma-Garam’s entire packaging in terms of pricing, visual element, colours used etc. clearly points that Radio Mirchi promotion is a big element of the entire exercise?

In some manner, a connection can be drawn with the Radio Mirchi launch and frequency; however that was not the driving need of the TOI and NBT promotion. As I said, the similarities were incidental. We would obviously rather have a price of 98.3 than say Rs.99; that does help our frequency recall.

Q. Leaving apart the promotional offers and ads, what do you say about the blatant use of editorial space in the inhouse print properties to promote Radio Mirchi?

It is not true. I don’t think newspapers like TOI and NBT will print stories which are irrelevant to their readers. See, our station and brand are making lot of news whether it is our unique promotional offers or the response from the listeners. Every single contest on Radio Mirchi draws huge response from the listeners. Take the case of offer on babies born at the time which matches with our frequency numbers. We were flooded with the calls from the parents. So obviously the uniqueness of the offer and response level from the listeners makes it news worthy for the newspaper readers in the city. I’ll give you another insight into the power of the medium. A few weeks back, in Ahmedabad, a patient needed blood of a rare group and we aired the request for donors on Radio Mirchi. Within very little time, we were requested to pull the spot off air since more than the required number of donors called almost immediately. When something as newsworthy as this happens, which also demonstrates the power of the medium, one would certainly want to share this with the public at large.

Q. Do you think the learnings from Mirchi’s launch in other cities say Mumbai have helped you in coping up with the Delhi market better?

Yes, immensely. There are many things. In Mumbai, all stations had their RJs talking far too much when they all started. So based on the listeners feedback and our own observation, we have made sure that RJs should not speak for more than the predetermined duration of their talk. They have a very tough line of balance to follow. This has been a big learning for us which we have executed from Day 1 in Delhi.

Q. …the kind of music which should be on air?

It’s basically contemporary and classic hit music which we play in Mumbai as well as in Delhi. The only difference is that the listeners in Delhi have some leaning towards the Punjabi music; and our programming reflects that minor bias.

Q. What is the profile of Mirchi listeners in Delhi?

The very nature of radio dictates that different types of people come to Mirchi at different points of time during the day. It might be a housewife during the day or the student in the later part of the afternoon or working person during the evening and so on. They could be at home or at work or driving. So keeping the different profile of our listeners we have different programming formats to meet their interests. For example, Hello Delhi in the morning to Dilli Meri Jaan in afternoon to Bumper2Bumper in the evening and so on. Mirchi is popular among all the age groups cutting across social boundaries. It could be a paan wala in Chandni Chowk to a senior manager in Nehru Place to a housewife in Janak Puri to a college goer in Rohini. The research done by our agency and ourselves as well, indicates that Radio Mirchi is universally popular among all segments of the radio listeners by quite a wide margin compared to the competition. I believe independent research by TNS Mode as well as some media specialist agencies indicate the same trend.

Q. Talking of TNS Mode research, Radio City has more Top of the Mind awareness than Radio Mirchi though Radio Mirchi scores more among the younger age group. What is your take on that?

The research is dated; if I am not mistaken the fieldwork for this was done in end May. In a market and category that is just 8 weeks old to the city, things could change quickly. Our own research shows that we have moved to a far stronger relative position since this research was carried out.

Q. So what are your findings on the market feedback?

In terms of dipsticks, similar to TNS', we do a car track every week, which broadly indicates Radio Mirchi has a consistent 50%+ share of the in-car listening market. Radio City and Red FM hold another 42-43% combined. In research data of June 16th, Radio Mirchi led with 50%, Red FM second with 22% and Radio City third with 20%. The AIR channels combined with 8%. Our belief is that while the TNS Mode survey shows Mirchi has a healthy share and preference, we have over the last three weeks grown in both terms as well as on TOM recall. Another element which we believe is important is the connect of the frequency with the brand. With the 983 Kismat Khol De contest specifically aimed at that objective, I assume that our brand-frequency connect will be the best in the market. Let me highlight the importance of this. If the listener does not connect the two, then it could well be like going to a Samsung showroom to buy an LG washing machine!!

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