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Rajat Uppal

General Manager – Marketing | 02 May 2012

Traditionally, radio consumption was skewed towards at-home listening with 96 per cent listeners tuning in from their homes and four per cent while commuting. But now we are seeing almost 20-30 percent of listeners tuning in from their mobile phones while on the move. Over the next few years, these numbers are expected to grow considerably.

Rajat Uppal, General Manager – Marketing, Red FM, has close to 10 years of marketing experience across conglomerates such as UB Group, Radico Khaitan and Big FM.

Prior to Red FM, Uppal did a stint with Fever FM as Deputy General Manager – Corporate Marketing. As part of his role at Fever, he was responsible for managing key national campaigns for trade besides spearheading online, digital and new marketing innovations.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Suraj Ramnath, Uppal spoke about new trends in the radio space, radio advertising, growth of the industry and more...

Q. How can radio become a major platform for marketers to advertise their brands?

Radio has already become part of most of the media plans for brands. In fact, lots of marketers are using radio to reach out to a targeted audience in specific areas. This is a luxury that TV does not provide. Radio enables marketers to reach out to a local audience at a very low cost per thousand (CPT) with high levels of engagement and interactivity. With better solutions being offered by radio players to marketers for addressing their advertising objectives, radio is bound to get bigger by the day.

Q. What are the new trends you are witnessing in radio?

The youth is hooked to radio for consumption of music. At Red FM, our product has always targeted the youth. A lot of other players have now started targeting the youth too but we have the first-mover advantage.

Another trend that we have seen through Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) is that the tune-in among women (All 12+) has grown by 88 per cent from 10 million to 19 million in 2010-11. Slicing it further, housewives (All 25+) have grown from seven million to 14 million, making it a 97 per cent growth in one year. In some metros such as Mumbai, female radio listenership outnumbers male radio listenership figures.

Traditionally, radio consumption was skewed towards at-home listening with 96 per cent listeners tuning in from their homes and four per cent while commuting. But now we are seeing almost 20-30 percent of listeners tuning in from their mobile phones while on the move. Over the next few years, these numbers are expected to grow considerably.

Digital and radio are made for each other and this seems to be emerging very strongly. We will soon witness the big fat Indian wedding of digital and radio. Both media operate on the hinges of interactivity. When used together they can create a ripple effect like no other. The two medium can supplement and complement each other in a synergised manner. Whether in promoting each other or becoming distribution pipelines for the same content, similar consumer behavior on both will bring them closer.

Q. Have you seen any major brand category entering the advertising space in radio off late?

Radio traditionally has always been considered for the masses and luxury brands had abstained from including radio in their media plan. This mindset seems to be changing now and a lot many are now buying radio. For example, luxury car segment players such as Mercedes and Skoda have tried their hand at radio advertising. Similarly, some luxury apparel brands such as Jack & Jones, Tommy Hilfiger have started using radio advertising on a regular basis.

Q. How do you foresee the radio industry five years from now?

With Phase III underway, we expect radio to grow quickly. According to the recent KPMG report, the industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 per cent over the next five years.

Q. Do you see any potential for growth of niche radio channels in India?

As the radio audiences evolve, niche radio channels will grow for sure. A lot of luxury brands are exploring radio as a marketing medium and niche channels will make their communication reach out to the right audience. As of today, niche radio stations are few and far between. They are struggling to survive as most of the media buyers look at reach numbers for media buys, which niche channels don’t deliver.

Q. What are the major programming and marketing initiatives undertaken by Red FM in the last three months?

Red FM has always believed in innovative and out of the box campaigns. Last quarter has seen action predominantly in tier II towns with the successful campaign called ‘Red FM Ka Thappa’. This initiative has got huge response in all our SAFL (South Asia FM Ltd) stations. In this initiative, listeners voted for their favorite eating/shopping destinations which they thought were worthy of being given this recognition.

Q. What are the marketing plans for Red FM in 2012?

All I can say is that this year we will be more aggressive in marketing and will strengthen our brand further.

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