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India favourite Down Under

Yusuf Begg | October 30, 2004

India, It seems, is big on Tourism Australia's radar. In the year ending December 2003, Indian visitors to Australia touched 45,600. On a flying visit to India Tim Fischer, chairman, Tourism Australia, said that he wants to see this figure doubled by the end of this year "or heads will roll".

Figures available with Tourism Australia suggest there has been a 32 per cent increase in the number of Indian visitors travelling to Australia in the first seven months of this year.

Fischer said that his organisation is looking at pushing event-based tourism such as sports tournaments. "We'd love to invite the 'curry crusaders' to our cricket matches." As for tourist inflow to India, he suggested that India should promote its heritage railway lines, which would attract superannuated Europeans.

It's not just Tourism Australia that is targeting Indian big-spenders. Last fortnight six south Australian wineries came on a three-city business visit.

"We hope to ship our first consignment by the end of the year," said Andrew Brown of Claymore Wines Pty Ltd.

Though the winery representatives were not sure of figures they were sure that India would be a big market. A couple of months ago Moet Hennessy India introduced four varieties of wine from Australia's Yarra Valley under the Green Point brand.

Not just cosmetic growth

Swedish cosmetics company Oriflame is stepping up its marketing efforts with a new range of products planned over the next few months. The company, which is set to complete nine years in India, plans to increase its product count from the current 380 to around 450 in the next few months. The additions will include a men's range to be launched in January 2005, and a new whitening range with cleansers, dry-cleaners and toners.

Thomas Ekberg, regional manager Asia, Oriflame, says the Indian market figures prominently in the company's global growth plans. "In 2003 only around 5 per cent of our global sales came from the Asian region," he says, "but that figure will hit double digits very soon and India will account for a significant proportion of this."

Ekberg points out that the Indian cosmetics market has changed greatly in recent years. "When we came here in 1996, talcs and soaps accounted for a huge percentage of our sales. But now skin care products make up 30 per cent of our sales and body care products another 30 per cent. Awareness has increased greatly, among both sexes."

Ekberg plans to hire many more salespersons to prettify its sales numbers. "We have around 100,000 consultants working for us in the Asia region, but we are working towards achieving that number in India alone," he says. Oriflame has 11 offices in India - including one in each of the metros.

In the immediate future Oriflame has introduced special discounts for Diwali, and even come up with a range of greeting cards, festive bags and diyas for the season. "Now those are products we don't make anywhere else in the world," quips Ekberg.

A two-minute wonder

What can a ten-year-old TV channel do to revive viewer interest? For a start, it can change content and packaging. Then it can introduce a new channel promo to ensure that viewers are told about the changes. Zee Cinema, part of Subhash Goyal's Zee Network, is doing that with a twist.

In July this year, the channel was rejuvenated with a new contemporary look. To add fizz to its new look, Zee Cinema has produced a two-minute film - a spoof on films like Sholay and Shekhar Kapoor's Bandit Queen - called Paap Ka Anth.

However, instead of running it on the channel, the marketing team at Zee Cinema is publicising it like a normal Hindi feature film and has released the two-minuter in 75 theatres across 45 cities in the country.

Why is Zee doing this? "Viewer feedback told us that we needed to cater to the changing tastes of consumers," says Bharat Kumar Ranga, senior vice president, sales, Zee Cinema. The channel hired a research agency four months ago to ask consumers in five cities what they expected and wanted from Zee Cinema.

It was found that the channel appealed to a slightly older audience and not so much to the younger generation. Also while consumers didn't want the channel to lose its flavour, they were looking for something contemporary.

Consumers were also looking for greater interaction with the channel, so Ranga and team have devised a plan of introducing interactive mobile and other contests around the launch of PKA. If the response is good, two similar films will follow.

Simultaneously, Zee has also launched three niche channels -- Premiere Cinema, Action Cinema and Classic Cinema. These were earlier part of Zee's direct to home offering but they are now being offered through cable as well.

"The next stage is to develop niche content for focused audiences," says Prakash Ramchandani, assistant vice president, marketing, Zee Cinema. So, for example, Premiere will air blockbuster films.

"We want to create three distinct brands to capture all the different audiences rather than rely on one general mother brand to bring in the eyeballs," says Ranga. Zee Cinema has sunk Rs 2 crore (Rs 20 million) into the re-branding exercise.

Other movie channels like Sony's Set Max and Star Gold have also been undergoing a change. Both are now offering dubbed Hollywood hits on the channels. Says an industry source, "The idea is to appeal to all kinds of audiences, but most importantly to capture younger audiences."

With cinema accounting for 28 per cent of viewers and a large young population, clearly channels are waking up to where the advertising buck lies. With a greater number of viewers tuning in, Zee Cinema is clearly hoping to see ad revenues ringing in. Whether PKA will be a hit or flop remains to be seen.

Additional reporting: Jai Arjun Singh and Arti Sharma



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