If there is any one particular genre of broadcasters that finds themselves on their toes every minute, it is the music/ youth channels. For that matter, almost anything targeted at the youth today demands a constant state of evolvement. Well aware of this challenge, networks that have youth channels as part of their overall offering, have spared no efforts to stay on top of the game. The bold three that have decided to walk this way – MTV, Channel [v] and Bindaas – have invested significant amounts of their energies on studies and research dedicated to understand this erratic target audience as best as possible.
The most recent in such studies released in the public domain is Channel [v]’s FYI Youth Report 2010 carried out by Quantum Market Research. The research was undertaken by the channel and involved around 5,000 respondents, with eight lakh Internet ethnographies. FYI believes that there is no one youth and hence, dwells on all the avatars of the youth. The FYI research was undertaken amongst the top 20 cities in India in the time period of the first quarter of 2010, targeting the 16-19 age group in SEC AB. In short, FYI Youth Report 2010 is a guidebook that demystifies the youth and offers insights across the key touch-points of the youth such as entertainment, relationships, education and career, which are analysed to completely understand the respondents’ attitudes, behaviour patterns and opinions. The study is available on an order basis and is priced at Rs 45,000.
MTV India and MTV International have long been carrying out studies on various topics and using traditional as well as unconventional methods to get a better handle on their audience. In January 2010, MTV released ‘Recreation Redefined’, a study by MTV Insight Studio on the ever changing world of entertainment. This study was targeted at youth marketers and comprised inputs from 3,000 people, across 16 cities, captured in one interactive DVD kit. Apart from this, MTV has taken up many initiatives in the past like MTV Youth Icons and later on, Circuits of Cool/ Digital Playground in 2007, a global study with Nickelodeon and Microsoft on how kids and young people interact with digital technology. In October 2010, MTV also launched a youth insight’s portal titled MTV Play.in, which can be accessed by the youth who voluntarily wish to provide inputs.
Meanwhile, Bindaas has plans to release its findings in the public domain sometime this year and has a person dedicated just for this purpose. As informed by the channel, Ravi Dixit heads its Strategic Planning and Research division and has been travelling extensively for the purpose of research initiatives.
What channel heads say
Speaking on the thought behind the initiative, Prem Kamath, Executive Vice President and General Manager, STAR India, told exchange4media, “The research started while we were planning the re-launch of Channel [v] in August, where we revised our programming strategy and direction, during which we were able to go about the documentation and research about Indian youth. This led to a comprehensive study covering many aspects such as their mobile behaviour, apparel choices, behavior, etc., that we need to need to tackle and thus, the genesis of this report came about. The scope and scale of the report is extensive and has formed the basis of repositioning for the channel. It will be used by us in client presentations, inquiries, share the findings and will assist marketers in gaining a deeper insight into the youth today. We plan to make such reports available annually in the public domain for the trade media that can simply make an inquiry through the channel’s website. We plan to conduct a day-long conference too, where industry experts will be invited to share their understandings on the subject.”
Aditya Swami, Channel Head, MTV – Globally, MTV International and MTV India, has been collecting insights on the youth on an on-going basis among trendsetters to remain ahead of the curve. He explained, “We connect with the urban, tech savvy youth through various traditional and unconventional initiatives. Our mantra is not qualitative or quantitative research gathering; we do a more tracking of trends through regional panels and focus groups on a continuous basis. On a daily basis, we surround ourselves with 18 to19 year olds, which gives us a better insight into how they behave in office, concepts that matter to them, their eco system, etc.”
He further said, “We have a community of over 1.5 million active users on Facebook, which serves as a live source of inputs of what is in or out, what moves are working in terms of programming. iSpeak is another forum where we invite 200 young people to talk about topics that concern the youth. Traditional research such as MTV Diaries is another approach where we call in people to give their feedback. Even during auditions, we are always administering questions and studying various issues that concern the youth, and then we collate all these findings into one place, where we make this available on open source platforms for marketers, advertisers and media planners.”
“We share information, send out usernames and passwords, share with key partners on a relationship basis. We use channel like Landmarks and Crossword for distribution purposes. The pricing of studies varies from Rs 3000 to Rs 10,000. As of now, we provide as fresh, topical and real time insights via MTV Play.in, but we look forward to updating ourselves and the industry on a daily basis,” Swami added.
Nikhil Gandhi, Business Head, Bindaas said that the channel had its primary research conducted on an ongoing basis, which gave it insight that it uses when developing new properties. “It helps us remain closely connected with our audiences and know our core competency and the popularity of our shows. We have embarked on a research effort with Synovate India, where we are studying a sample size of about 5,000 youth and we plan to realise that as a handbook for marketers, a web version, and we will do forums. Publishers have shown interest, but it is too early to know what mechanism we will use to make it available to the industry,” he added.
We spoke to industry professionals to gauge their response on such studies released in the public domain. How beneficial would such studies be to marketers and would they be willing to buy it off the shelf? This is what some had to say…
Ajay Kakar, Chief Marketing Officer – Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group, “A marketer is guided by two factors – knowledge and a gut feel. One without the other will always lead to sub-optimal output. When it comes to knowledge, any kind of relevant research is a valuable input to taking knowledgeable decisions. And if your brand is targeting the youth, then research on youth and music will be relevant and welcome.”
Abdul Khan, Senior Vice-President Marketing, Tata Docomo believed that the youth was an unavoidable segment for all marketers and advertisers today. He said, “Any initiative that helps in understanding the youth is welcomed. Channel [v]’s FYI report is carried out by a reputed research agency like Quantum, which makes it an interesting proposition. When we address the youth, any insights or background information would be important to us.”
He, however, had a relevant point when he noted, “The trouble with such data is that it may soon be irrelevant and out of date. Model based studies may be outdated in as less as two months. There is a need for a more tracking or trend based approach with the help of youth panels or other such groups that can give a more ongoing feedback on current happenings, behaviourial trends, interests, etc.”
According to Sandip Tarkas, President – Customer Strategy, Future Group, “Studies and research undertaken by channels is more suited for their programming needs, consumption patterns, the target audience’s television habits and direct internal usage. It cannot be taken as gospel, but it provides a guiding light for marketers and advertisers as they are focused surveys. It would be a source of insights to the industry, but it needs to be on a more frequently updated basis so as not to lose relevance.”