Content Jam: You need to go out and talk to customers yourself: Vikram Mehra, Saregama

In his keynote session, Mehra, MD, Saregama India, explains how positioning a product in the right way — case in point Saregama Carvaan — can strike a chord with consumers

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 5, 2019 8:24 AM
Vikram Mehra, MD, Saregama

exchange4media’s Content Jam 2019 saw many dignitaries imparting marketing wisdom. Vikram Mehra, MD, Saregama India Limited, gave a keynote on ‘Content & Marketing – A Symbiotic Relationship’. Through Saregama Carvaan’s journey, he explained how customers are the same but value proposition has changed.

Starting his address with how brands can leverage smart marketing, he pointed out examples of movies which have managed to go viral in the social media space. Citing the example of the ‘PadMan’ Challenge, he said, “This thing really went viral. You need guts in a country like ours to go back and do a campaign like this. It worked. According to me, it isn’t controversial. We just needed to talk about the taboo topic out here.”

“Let’s talk about ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ and the controversy about banning this movie, they (the filmmakers) used it and came out with a positive spin on the campaign and it again got massive traction. This is not a work of lazy marketing,” he added. Mehra also applauded the film ‘Phillauri’ and its #ShashiWasThere campaign which went viral on social media.  

Moving on to Saregama Carvaan, Mehra revealed that it wasn’t an idea that suddenly struck them. It came out of a situational adversity. “HMV Saregama is sitting on the largest catalogue of film and non-film music in India. Our sales numbers were pretty dismal, profitability equally dismal and we were wondering have people stopped listening to music. So we asked the consumers, another lesson for all the marketing guys sitting here. Please don’t believe in your marketing agencies alone. I think they do a great job but you need to go out and talk to your customers yourself. We did these studies all across and what we realised that our primary customer who listens to Kishore, Rafi, Lata, Asha, Jagjit Singh are above the age of 40. And the common thing in this age group, again outside the metros, is they aren’t the most tech-savvy people. This is the crowd who wanted to listen to our music. This crowd had access to apps but they were scared of using the apps. So we thought can we turn our adversity into a way to make money from the customer.”

Nobody believed in it. Many called it the biggest blunder, Mehra revealed. But it was all about positioning it the right way. “Carvaan is not positioned on a customer who wants to control his/her music listening experience. We have 5000cr data points about which song of ours is getting heard and where on the digital media. Based on that the top 5000 songs come out. Now a typical thing about retired people in our country is they stop spending money on themselves. We realised we may have a little bit of a problem. So we turned it around. We talked to guilty children who don’t live with their parents any longer. So you gift. Gifting is a 20bn dollar market in India, apart from weddings. We positioned it as a gifting product. This is personal and works with the older crowd because you press one button and the music starts. That worked for us. The customer hasn’t changed, what changed is the value proposition.” He further added that “At this juncture we have already sold 1.5m units in less than 2 years. To give a context to the money that Carvaan is making topline is almost equal to the entire music industry of India.”

Mehra also stated, “There is a serious falling engagement with 30 seconders. There was a time when ads used to be played and many of us have grown up remembering those lyrics. We realised that more and more devices let people skip the ads now. As the world moves from AVOD (television ads) to SVOD, where is the space for a 30 second ad. There is existential crisis for the media and the marketing guys.”


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