Saturday, December 26, 2009

Brand Update : World Space RIP ( 2001-2009)

Another brand is dead. World Space satellite radio service is set to shut shop in India on the New Year eve. The brand which brought in the country's first satellite radio will officially laid to rest on that day.

The brand which came to India in 2001 was supposed to create ripples in the Indian entertainment market ( atleast I thought so). The brand was launched in India with a preposterous pricing soon realized that India needs a new set of marketing mixes if it wanted to succeed . In 2005, the brand came back with a reasonable price-value proposition. The new pricing helped the brand to earn large number of subscribers to the tune of 4.5 lakh customers who was willing to pay about Rs 1800 per year for music. This is no small feat because in India, it was unheard of a practice to pay for a radio service. The brand also got a boost with the tie-up with Airtel digital TV network. According to reports, World Space India contributed 90% of the subscriber base of its parent.

But luck was not in favor for World Space. In 2009, the parent company World Space USA filed for bankruptcy protection . That was the beginning of the end for World Space India. There was talks about a possible sell off but that too did not materialize.

The failure of World Space India was largely contributed by the bankruptcy of its parent but there are lessons to be learned from the mistakes of the Indian arm also. The first mistake was done during the initial launch when World Space charged exorbitant prices for its receiver as well as the service. The Indian consumers quickly rejected this aggression. The company did not correct this mistake for two years and when they corrected it, already a perception was created in the mind of the consumers about the service being expensive.
The second mistake was regarding the pricing of the receiver. World Space should have concentrated more on selling subscriptions rather than the receiver . It could have come out with receivers with rock bottom prices ( Say below Rs 1000) and aggressively sold subscriptions. Remember mobile services became popular largely because of the low cost handsets . Had the handsets cost more than Rs 5000, the penetration could have been much lower.

The third mistake was the business model. Although the brand did right in the advertising front by roping in the brand ambassador AR Rahman, the field level promotion was hopeless. This product could have done well with a direct marketing approach. But the channel partners of World Space did not bothered to aggressively push the product. They were all waiting for the consumers to make the first contact. The ideal strategy could have to set a subscription target of say 1 million customers and once you have it, then try to upsell premium subscriptions to them.

I don't think that the brand could have still survived if it had followed the above said strategies. Indian market still has not open to the concept of a Pay- Radio. The brand was in the wrong place at the wrong time...

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1 comment:

  1. I am (will be "was" soon) a happy customer of Worldspace and it was the only product available for tasteful music listening. If I want Tamil or Carnatic or Western Classical music away in Pune, Worldspace was the only choice.

    In hindsight, customer service has always been their bane. But didn't warrant to go away so soon. Sorry to see it fade away.


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