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Harshad Jain

Chief Marketing Officer | 05 May 2007

“A subscription-based revenue model is clearly a sustainable and phenomenal revenue model. Firstly, it does not have seasonality. Secondly, it’s a cash-and-carry model, where the consumer pays upfront in advance. And finally, you are able to deliver a proposition which is very sharp… We don’t have an advertising model at all. That’s clearly our USP.”

Harshad has a result driven track record of over 14 years in the FMCG business. He has worked across various functions ranging from marketing and sales to developing and running new businesses and joint venture operations. With a Post-gGraduation in Marketing & Management, Jain started his career as a Sales Manager with the Indiana Group of Industries in March 1992.

In 1994, he joined Pepsi Foods as Unit Marketing Manager in West Bengal and made rapid strides within the organization to become Head Marketing – East region. Within two years he moved to Tamil Nadu as GM-Marketing where he was responsible for the marketing function of PepsiCo India – South. In May 2000, Jain was promoted GM/VP Marketing where he was given the task of managing the flavours brand portfolio that included Mirinda, 7Up, Duke as well as Aquafina. A year later he was give the overall responsibility of the Non-Carbs business where he developed distinctive strategies for brands such as Aquafina, Slice and Tropicana and was responsible for establishing Aquafina as the No. 1 brand in key metros within a year of its launch in India.

In April 2003, Jain moved to the New Business division at Pepsi and was responsible for the launch of Lipton Ice Tea, Gatorade and Aquafina in jars. Promoted as Executive VP, Sales Operation, in April 2004, he took charge of all sales processes, systems, distribution, infrastructure and capability building for the entire beverage business in South Asia.

In his most recent role as Executive VP – Pepsi Lipton JV, Jain headed the strategic alliance between Pepsi and Unilever and launched the popular Lipton Ice tea range across South Asia.

Jain is a passionate, determined team leader driven by challenges and results. He thrives on creating and building businesses and looks forward to leveraging his skills across management functions as WorldSpace builds its business in India. Music is a passion and his WorldSpace receiver is always churning out his favorite music, at home and in the office, switching between popular English music on Voyager and Orbit Rock to catching up on all the latest Bollywood hits on Jhankaar. In this interview with Jagadeesh Krishnamurthy of exchange4media, he talks about his role at Worldspace. Excerpts:

Q. How has the run been for WorldSpace until now?

It’s been pretty good. Please remember that this is the start of a new concept. There is no precedent of Satellite radio apart from the US where you got 15 million subscribers in a span of five years. It’s been a journey which has been filled with lots of learning and we are doing something which no company has done before. We have been able to reach a sustainable phase in India -- we got around 170,000 subscribers in the last two years, we have seen triple-digit growth happening. So, clearly it’s about closing and inching towards a point of infliction.

Q. How is the subscription-based revenue model of WorldSpace shaping up? Is it sustainable in the long run?

It is clearly a sustainable and phenomenal revenue model. Firstly, it does not have seasonality and, mostly, all revenue models are dependant on it. Secondly, it’s a cash-and-carry model, where the consumer pays upfront in advance. And finally, you are able to deliver a proposition which is very sharp in today’s India where the living standard measure is slightly more refined than the SEC A and B model which people usually look at. The market size is very large, if you are able to give a compelling proposition, I think a subscription-based revenue model is highly attractive.

And the subscription we are talking about is hardly much. After the entry cost is taken care of, you are talking about something like Rs 150 per month, which comes down to Rs 5 a day. Five rupees a day to access this high repertoire of music is simply unbelievable!

Q. What has been the growth of Satellite radio industry in the past couple of years?

It’s still early days. But I would like to give a brief into this business. It was first launched in 2001 in the US, where there were two companies called Xm and Sirius. We must consider that the US as a market is highly matured. There is enough and more music available in digital formats and lots of private FM radio stations in that market. Despite this, the subscription-based satellite radio user base is close to 13.5 to 15 million subscribers which is very large. In terms of listenership, it would be, assuming a family of four, we are talking about fifteen million listeners. That was just to show how satellite radio boomed in the US over the last five or six years. So clearly it has bright future in this country too.

Q. When do you see this boom happening in India?

If you see the years 2005 and 2006, we have seen a phenomenal triple-digit growth. Now, in 2006 and 2007, we are clearly looking at further growth as the concept is now gaining momentum. The effort is to familiarize the concept even more and I think it’s a gradual and ongoing process.

Q. What are your efforts in pushing forward the satellite radio space in the country?

We are already here for the last couple of years and have been aggressively pushing the market. The market is there, the consumer evolution is happening in a big way. Our challenge is multi-fold: a) to educate the consumer, b) to have a product differentiation that is right up there. I think it’s a matter of time for everyone to know more about it.

Q. There has been listenership tracking problems in the FM radio sector. How does WorldSpace manage this?

It’s very simple as we have a database of 170,000-odd subscribers. We also have a Customer Satisfaction Measurement Indicator (CSMI) study where we reach out to these consumers very regularly, mostly on a quarterly basis, and have a proper update on their preferences in programming and problems with the service. In our case, it is very easy.

Q. Are there any plans for bringing in advertisers on-board the network?

We don’t have an advertising model at all. That’s clearly our USP. Our business model is all about subscription. So, at least for the time being, there are no plans whatsoever in that aspect.

Q. Kindly share more on the future plans of WorldSpace in the country.

India is clearly booming in all sectors. All macro indicators are showing that India as a market is right up there for an opportunity like this. And, our objective would be to maximise this.

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