| 22 Sep 2023
IRF 2013: Radio needs to explore emerging markets beyond metros

MUMBAI: The low profiled but ubiquitous radio is the voice of emerging India beyond the metros- a market that is set to propel the country’s economic growth, Futurebrands India MD & CEO Santosh Desai said.

Presenting his keynote speech ‘The Influence of Radio in Emerging India’ at the India Radio Forum (IRF) held in the city on 28 May, Desai said, “Radio is the best medium to understand the emerging India that is to be found in rural areas where aspirations and economic growth are finding a footing. India’s growth is not from the metros now but is bottom up. Newer towns are becoming forces of unstoppable energy with 42 percent of revenue coming from consumption."

Although radio may be overshadowed by its more visible rival the television and newspapers, it can more than hold its own due to its unique characteristics.

Television has an overpowering presence but is ultimately ‘reducing’ audience to just eyeballs. Newspaper is driven by significance and not popularity and as a written medium- its content is retrospective. The internet is too scattered.

Radio, though a public medium, has the ability to get intimate with its audience. In India, it has build a foundational role- a sense of pan India identity through All India Radio (AIR), given the state its authority and citizens are common vocabulary and reference point.

FM radio signaled the ‘rebirth of radio’- the medium that is now advantageously poised to be a platform for the country’s growth and also leverage it. As growth is now coming from the newer and smaller centres, radio can give a city or town its unique voice and character.

“Radio as a medium can give a city a sense of itself through calibrated content and successive experimentations. Today each city is into its own and as it gets atomized, its sense of self is given by radio,” Desai said.

This quality and ability of radio- to give cities a distinct characteristic and identity- in turn offers marketers and advertisers an opportunity to focus and sell their design advertisements according to the markets they want to target.

Moreover, it is imperative that marketers understand that emerging India is being built city-by-city. It is no longer a case of (the state) Uttar Pradesh (UP) as a market but having in depth understanding of its cities- like Lucknow and Varanasi- each having its distinctive characteristic and flavour.

Desai highlighted the fact that Radio has been a social medium long before the term was coined. It has a strong tradition of catering to listeners’ choices, and has been a mobile entertainment device- think of the quintessential youth hugging a transistor.

“Radio is also helping in making sense of the changes. It is creating a new rule book (for audience and their environment) and drawing people from their inner world bit by bit,” Desai added.