We have not repositioned ourselves every two years: Rajat Uppal, Red FM

Despite the double whammy of demonetisation and GST, Red FM has managed to grow from 54 to the planned 70 stations in the near future. Rajat Uppal, National Head, Red FM offers more insights into this journey and the way ahead for private FM players

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Sep 20, 2017 8:04 AM

According to the Pitch Madison report released earlier this year, Radio witnessed 13% growth in 2016 to become a market worth Rs 1,750 crore. The report further stated that while Realty and FMCG remained the biggest spenders, BFSI and Media have contributed significantly to the growth in radio advertising. The report estimated that in 2017, radio will grow by 15%, taking the total radio advertising market close to Rs 2,000 crore.


While the projected 15% growth is a reflection of radio’s growing clout, the twin blow of demonetisation and GST has impacted the industry adversely. According to Rajat Uppal, National Marketing Head, 93.5 Red FM, the last one year has been rather challenging for the industry. “It’s not that everything is hunkydory for radio. In fact for the last one year, from the sales and revenue perspective, it was tough because we were hit by demonetisation post which GST came up. So our business has been affected.”


From a marketing, brand and content perspective, Uppal does not see Red FM as just a radio brand. “We see ourselves as an entertainment brand,” he states. Uppal also explained that Red FM is not just competing with other radio stations but the entire entertainment space. “We are in the business of radio, we are in the business of doing live entertainment events and digital content. So we are not just competing with radio.”


It’s all about sticky content


While sharing his insights about the growth of Red FM over the years, Uppal believes that good content has kept them going so far. In his view, since consumers are spoilt for choice, given the rise of digital platforms, brands that will deliver good content consistently and uphold the brand promise will command loyal customers in the long run.


“We have not repositioned ourselves every two years. So, we have got a much differentiated personality and we call ourselves a station for expression because we give our listeners a platform to voice their opinions. The prime reason for people to tune into radio is music followed by RJs. Though music can be copied easily, however, it is the brand personality which helps you differentiate.  We have been fortunately very consistent in this for the last 10 years and we have been ‘Bajaate Raho’ for the longest time.”


Next Level of Growth


According to latest industry estimates, radio accounts for only about 5% of the broadcasting sector in India with a market share of over Rs 2000 crore. While the world is moving to digital radio, the India story offers a different picture. Sharing his views on the next level of growth for the medium, Uppal says, “We must remember that around 60-70% radio is consumed through mobile phones and it is a very personal one-on-one medium. While we are a large 54 station network hoping to be 70 soon, we do a lot of local content that helps us build an emotional connect with our consumers. I think the next level of growth will come from tier 1 and tier 2 regions. While revenue is definitely higher in the metros, but even on the digital medium, some of the biggest influencers hail from smaller towns. So the drivers of growth will be those cities and towns.”


Speaking about the scope of digital radio and whether industry players are ready to embrace the change, Uppal stated, “I’m of the opinion that one has to embrace change. If the category needs to grow and exist you have to move with the consumer patterns. It will take time, but we will have to eventually go there.”

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