March 31, 2005: No. of subscribers – 21,730. March 31, 2006: No. of subscribers – 111,723.
After the relaunch in January 2005, WorldSpace, the only satellite radio service provider in India, has been busy beating its own records month after month, now contributing more than 70 per cent of the total subscribers to the world’s only profitable player in the satellite radio business.
The company saw a 50 per cent jump in the number of its subscribers in the first quarter of 2006, compared to the fourth quarter of 2005. “I think the key to our success has been our strong content offering, which plays your kind of music 24x7, the quality of our sound, and a strong distribution base,” explained Arti Mehta, CMO, WorldSpace Satellite Radio.
On the distribution front, WorldSpace has adopted four major distribution channels – push-based and pull-based retailing, focus on corporate segment, and unique experience centres at major metros.
Revealing the secret of WorldSpace’s success in a price sensitive market like India, Mehta gives the credit to what she calls the ‘Six legs of experiential marketing’ of the company.
First is the ‘WorldSpace Lounge’, which is an experience zone that enables customers to listen to their choice of music on any of WorldSpace’s stations in a comfortable and non-intrusive lounge ambience. WorldSpace recently launched its newest lounge at Gurgaon and plans to launch such lounges in other major cities in a phased manner. It already has lounges in Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
Secondly, through the concept of ‘WorldSpace Live’, the satellite radio organises and partners with a lot of musical events. These include album launches, informal tete-a-tetes with artists, individual performances by local artists, and workshops on various genres of music, among others, in an attempt to bring music and artists closer to music lovers.
“The idea is to provide music lovers with a complete music experience,” said Mehta. In the recent past, WorldSpace had organised a concert by Jazz player Charlie Mariano in Bangalore. It also became the main sponsor of a Carnatic music festival to bond with Carnatic music lovers.
Thirdly, the company has tied up with around 200 restaurants, emporia, malls and kiosks under the concept of ‘WorldSpace Playing outlets’ where music is played uninterrupted.
Fourthly, apart from the tie-ups, the radio company has formed strategic alliances with Cafe Coffee Day, Barista, Music World, and Planet M, thus reaching out to a highly targeted audience along with getting the access to a devoted audience in these platforms. Cafe Coffee Day and Barista outlets are equipped with WorldSpace radio and distinctive in-café branding, which brings its unique music to these youth-populated venues, giving them a taste of the WorldSpace experience.
Through the music retail chains – Planet M and Music World – it has extended its retail reach to 59 premium music stores in nine cities across the country. Under this agreement, WorldSpace is showcasing and selling its subscription satellite radio service and products.
Fifthly, the ‘WorldSpace Home Experience Programme’ taps into the consumer at home by offering him a trial sampling of the service for a fixed period, thus helping the consumer appreciate the inherent value of WorldSpace’s content.
Finally, WorldSpace constantly floats roadshows and creates on-ground promotional activities at malls, colleges and restaurants, thereby integrating the opportunity to have a first hand experience of the satellite radio service.
Recently, the company tied up with music composer A R Rahman as its brand ambassador. “The idea is to engage the minds of consumers faster and win the high ground in music,” Mehta said. The company is currently in discussions with the music maestro and is contemplating how to use his brand potential in the best possible way.
On being asked about the subscribers spread across its 16 cities where WorldSpace operates, Mehta replied, “The five metros contributes around 60 per cent of our total subscribers in India, Bangalore and Mumbai being our strongest markets.” WorldSpace is soon going to roll out in nine more cities, thus increasing its operations to 25 by the end of this year.
Speaking about the road ahead for WorldSpace in India, Mehta said, “India is the strongest market for WorldSpace and we feel privileged for this. We are very bullish about our growth in this country. We conduct huge research to better understand our consumer needs and will add more stations to our bouquet if and when there is a consumer demand for this. At the same time, there is a huge untapped market in the existing markets and we will continue to penetrate deep into these markets.”
Though satellite radio has huge potential in other spheres like data transfer, WorldSpace is not seriously marketing this aspect. Asked about this, Mehta said, “We are a very focused company and we have decided to spend our energy more on the satellite radio business in this country.”
On possible tie-ups with the 300-odd new FM stations coming up, Mehta held, “We are open to all possible cooperation. We are already working together with some FM stations as we are carrying out our brand promotion activities through stations of Radio Mirchi and Radio City. Though we are operating in two different segments, we together constitute the music industry in this country.”