‘The youth from smaller towns is far more experimentative’

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Prem Kamath, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Channel V

Channel V has moved much more beyond music to catch the pulse of the youth of the nation. Currently, the channel offers a mix of entertainment customised to the demand of its TG with a strong line-up of youth fiction programmes. Moreover, it has propelled stronger consumer connect on the back of innovative youth engagement initiatives since its inception. Prem Kamath, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Channel V, shares his views with Pitch on the emerging trends among youth consumers and much more. Excerpts…

Being a well known youth channel, what are your overall accomplishments as a youth brand?
Channel V’s legacy is well entrenched in Indian pop culture for the last 2 decades. But it’s really about being cutting edge within a specific time period. Whether it’s about hosting India’s biggest college festival –Indiafest 2012 or going all the way back to  launching the first ever reality show on Indian TV in the form of V Popstars, we have always striven to lead the pack in cutting edge content and formats. Today we are the only holistic youth entertainment channel with fiction shows being runaway favorites with the youth and a 1 year old café brand – The V Spot Cafe+Bar that is set to explode all over the country after 2 successful launches in its first year. So really, our greatest accomplishment lies in creating an endearing Channel V experience for different platforms in different times.

Is there a change in consumer behavior of youth as compared to last year or the year before?
Or have they changed since last week, should be the complete question. The youth is the most dynamic group, let alone today’s group being the most informed ever. You just need to see the way our content has evolved over the years to understand periodic shifts in their tastes, especially with external influences being volatile. In the 90’s, music programming was a rage and the VJ’s were demi-gods. Today YouTube has changed the way youth demand and consume music. We took a hard look at these facts and did the unthinkable for most – stopping music programming. Contrary to popular cynicism, ratings have remained steady and audiences hardly seem to be missing it.

What are the different platforms of media that you are using to target the youth? And how?
We can never undermine the importance of mass media such as cross promotion on the Star Network or print and outdoor communication. But the youth need a personal touch and customized communication that can be derived through focused activations in colleges or peer groups through our Campus Managers. We are constantly developing evangelists as it’s far more effective than pasting a message on a billboard.

How do you see the youth in smaller towns and rural vis-à-vis in metro? How important are they and how are you as a marketer looking at them?
They are clearly exposed to different worlds and have distinct orientations. As a marketeer both have their own importance. The youth from smaller towns can be far more experimentative owing to their inherent hunger. The metro kids may have a broader perspective and ideas due to their added exposure. Ultimately there’s no one rural or urban youth like there’s no one India.

What have been your key marketing initiatives in the past one year to lure the young consumers? What has been the impact of these youth-centric activities?
We realized the limitation of conventional marketing owing to the clutter and noise all the brands are making. Brand extensions such as The V Spot Cafe+Bar and Indiafest have obvious commercial benefits but they’re also invaluable platforms to connect with the youth. We have used both these avenues to promote our on-air properties and get information that ultimately help us ‘co-create’ our future content. Similarly we have integrated Indiafest in the screenplay of our story lines and the two had tremendous synergy, not to mention the increase in sensitivity towards both properties.

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