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The youthful BPO army: time for ‘owl television’ and ‘owl retailing’?

06-July-2005
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The youthful BPO army: time for ‘owl television’ and ‘owl retailing’?

Hundreds of people headed for work at night? It’s commonplace these days, what with the increasing number of BPO jobs involving night shifts. Interestingly, this expanding sector could actually open up opportunities for specific sectors. For example, surely this army of BPO and call-centre employees can’t be expected to watch Kahaani…, Kyunki…, or Jassi.

Though experts in the industry don’t quite see any major trend as of now, they don’t rule out the possibility of a substantial impact in future. Said Punitha Arumugam, CEO, Madison Media Group, “Even today, shows and programmes for youngsters are telecast during the day. Moreover, the BPO employees don’t form a major share of the television audience, as of now. However, if in the future, the number increases, the scenario may be different.”

Sources at TAM say that the figures as of now don’t indicate any conclusive trend. The age group of 19-25 years constitutes just 1-2 per cent of the entire television audience, they point out.

However, apart from television, the other industries that can pull up their socks for taking advantage of opportunities are the retail and restaurant sectors.

Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consultants, thinks this new crowd is getting distanced from TV. He said, “With only 3,48,000 BPO employees, maybe it’s just less than 1 per cent of the television audience. What is important is that the Tech, ITES and Biotech crowd is the one with the most disposable incomes and is getting distanced from television programmes as the timings are completely different from the other sets of consumers with normal jobs.”

Anand Halve of Chlorophyll felt that this is an interesting scenario: “What should be done is to understand and analyse the routine of such population and accordingly prepare offerings.”

Terming the trend aptly as ‘owl shopping’ and ‘owl television’, Bijoor further said, “I see an opportunity out there for midnight shopping malls. The latent need of a BPO employee working through the night will be fulfilled.” Bijoor sees major opportunities opening up in the metros. “Bangalore, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderbad and Chennai are the centres of tech-movement currently,” he said.

The BPO wave is expected to create outsourcing opportunities in various industries where India has a cost advantage along with service skills. Giving an insight on the facts and figures, Bijoor said, “While in 2001-02 the ITES-BPO market in India brought in value to the tune of $ 0.1 billion, the current estimate for 2004-05 has been put at $ 0.6 billion, thus pointing to the rapid growth that the industry has seen.”

Halve pointed out, “In outsourcing, some industries like printing and others may not need to work as per US timings, but there are quite a few that may involve office hours in accordance with US schedules, where working ‘live’ may be important. All such industries will create opportunities for many sectors in India.”

Shopping malls and media players need to take note of the ‘owl’ shoppers and grab the emerging opportunity.

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