Radio’s still reigning at home. But FM radio stations are not content with that as they look for potential listeners out of home, wherever they can be spotted – be it the cafe, the mall or the gas station. If current trends are any indi cation, then FM radio is set for a song out-of-home. And thanks to the mobile phone and inexpensive FM radio handsets, radio listenership on the move is also catching on thick and fast.
Today, radio in the country is listened to mostly at home (80-85 per cent). Only 15 per cent is out-of-home (OOH) – through cars, mobile phones and at offices and public places.
While the “mainstay” of radio listening is still at home, out-of-home is slowly growing. And with more ‘OOH’ platforms likely to emerge in a big way – such as the Internet and public transport, the future is gravitating towards outdoor radio.
With mobile phone makers using the ‘FM radio’ tag to woo buyers, FM radio players have a lot to gain, says Ashit Kukian, Executive Vice-President and National Sales Head of Radio City, which is promoted by Music Broadcast Pvt Ltd. “There are a sizeable number of phones today which are FM radio-enabled. Even the basic phone carries this feature. So, with handset makers increasingly using FM radio to sell mobile phones, the radio listenership base is all set to grow,” says Kukian.
Agrees Anand Chakravarthy, Vice President - Marketing, BIG 92.7 FM, Adlabs’ radio venture: “In an increasingly mobile world, out-of-home consumption is only going to increase. The mobile phone revolution has put a handset into the hands of millions of Indians. Most handsets by default are FM-enabled, allowing consumers to access our station wherever they are. With the growth of mobile phone penetration, the consumption of FM on the move will only increase.”
“Certainly mobile phones have helped in increasing FM consumption. Today, FM-enabled handsets are standard and available at very affordable price points. However, it is still early days to attribute significant growth in listenership to FM-enabled handsets. Certainly the share of consumption is going up. RAM estimation studies clearly indicate that 30-35 per cent of listeners also listen to FM on their mobile handsets.” And with the mobile phone platform waiting to be tapped, radio marketers are exploring co-branded efforts with mobile handset manufacturers as they see “immense value for both sides.”
To promote radio-enabled phones and FM radio, Radio City teamed up with Nokia about six months ago. While Radio City promoted Nokia’s FM-enabled model on air, Nokia’s handset boxes carried Radio City’s logo. Big FM too has done work with Reliance Mobile on CDMA handsets as well as wireless phones. It is in advanced dialogue with other mobile handset brands in India. Jupiter Capital’s Radio Indigo also believes FM stations can drive listenership through fixed frequency mobiles and is evaluating co-branded activities in this direction.
Several other locations too have emerged out of home for radio play-out – public places such as restaurants, multiplexes, retail outlets and malls. Big FM has invested in radio seeding – putting in single frequency radio sets – in malls, retail outlets, rickshaws, taxis and buses to give consumers the opportunity to stay tuned to Big FM no matter where they are.
It has also done play-outs in Reliance Web World cafés across the country, Big Bazaar , Mongini’s outlets in Surat, KFC in Chandigarh, ‘365’ stores in Delhi, rickshaws in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Currently, it has play-outs in Nirmal Lifestyle in Mumbai and the Iskon Mall in Surat. It has also explored local restaurants, college canteens, local petrol pumps and youth hangouts in the country.
Radio Indigo too has tied with up with various cafes, restaurants, pubs and lounges for on-ground and on-air activities. Radio City is in discussions with retailers to air its content at retail outlets and malls, says Kukian. Apart from public play-out, radio stations have gone a step ahead by literally taking its studio outdoors! For instance, Radio Indigo once went live on-air from a party at a pub in Bangalore.
“We also collaborated with Lenovo to bring in a larger-than-life radio experience. The Indigo studios were set up in a giant Lenovo laptop model 20 feet above the ground. Innovations like this drive the excitement element for the audience, helping to retain the stickiness factor,” says Jayyant Bhokare, COO – Media, Events & Contract Marketing, Radio Indigo.
What is it that makes marketers bullish on out-of-home? Explains Bhokare: “Out-of-home radio consumption has huge potential. With cities getting de-clogged and the formation of new business districts and residential townships, people are bound to spend much more time out of home. We should definitely see listenership growing in ambient areas. Marketers have enormous potential. Given that high traffic density is a favourable factor, listeners today experience a lot of compulsive listening.”
The radio’s ability to converge and blend into any surrounding, anywhere, anytime, and its growing popularity has prompted the increased exploration of the outdoors to boost brand stickiness. Says Big FM’s Chakravarthy: “Radio play-outs are a great sampling opportunity for our brand. Qualitative understanding certainly indicates this helps get more listeners into the fold and get the brand noticed as well. Mass single frequency radio play-outs across various platforms is something we pioneered and drove in a big way. It has been a very successful sampling and brand-building strategy and we will continue to invest in this form of marketing our product and brand.”
And the future appears merrier with radio players looking to conquer more outdoor space. FM stations could be made available on public buses, train stations, bus depots – like in many countries. The Internet also holds good promise – listeners can log onto their favourite stations outside home – at office, in the Internet café, or on their laptops or Blackberry while on the move.
“Uninterrupted access to FM stations wherever consumers are will certainly help in building even more stickiness for the category. However, music royalty issues have created legal barriers to implement this,” says Chakravarthy of Big FM. Radio City’s Kukian hopes the country will soon get government approval for Internet radio. Surely, the FM radio segment is catching the wave.