By Akshat Harbola
It’s safe to say that most of us have experienced eye fatigue over the last year. With much of our time spent at home, we’ve stared at screens for a majority of the day, and then again some, later in the evening. This is where audio came to the rescue for many. As the time spent on screens and watching video content increased, as did the visual saturation leading in turn to the growth in consumption of audio, both music and podcasts.
A RedSeer report from September last year stated that more than 340 million songs were streamed daily, and podcasts have witnessed a similar trajectory, even though the absolute numbers are not comparable to music. This consumption of audio content is coming primarily from the millennials and Gen Z, who are looking to either complement their tasks or relaxation time through music, or to entertain themselves and even learn something new through podcasts. These listeners are not only most likely to spend the most amount of time consuming content on streaming platforms, but also to pay for an audio experience, if it stands out. So, what keeps them coming back for more, and even at some point, make them want to pay for an audio streaming experience?
Stand Out, Actually
No brownie points for having the right content; that’s a given in a market like India. So, how does an audio service stand out enough for listeners to choose it over and over again? By recommending content that is contextualised and personalised based on moods and moments through the day, and on what the user listens to across genres, languages etc. For instance, playlist recommendations that bring familiar and new content together, giving users the chance to listen new songs that are similar to what they already enjoy listening to. It’s also extremely important to be relevant. 2020 is a great example, given how routines changed. Those who were commuting and listening to music or podcasts were now home 24/7 and sought different type of content to be recommended to them in the new normal. If a service recommends content based on new, changing user routines, they will keep coming back for more, and might just be willing to spend money on that experience as well.
Catch ‘em If You Can
The right synergy between two brands has often helped them find new audiences, or even to convert the existing users into paying subscribers. There is an opportunity to engage in strategic partnerships and expand the horizon of your brand – go where your consumer is. These also act as opportunities for new users to ‘sample’ what your platform is about (and through a partner brand that they already trust), before actually committing to pay for it. For example, MFine partnered with Vodafone Idea to offer free membership for patients to consult with doctors and hospitals from their homes in challenging times. In another example, Uber made its cab services available to OnePlus employees as they made their way back-to-the workplace across stores and service centres.
Life As We Know It
There’s opportunity and more for brands to embed themselves into cultural conversations and social moments that increase the consumer love and relatability. Real engagement – perhaps one of the biggest challenges of advertising – has now found its place in moment marketing. And while this phenomenon has picked up pace in recent times, it was pioneered years ago.
Remember the Amul girl who spoke to Indian audiences and is still so topical? Of course, that has now evolved to digital platforms which allow for more real-time conversations, where brands engage consumers in social media banter. After all, if you know your audience the way Zomato knows its foodies, there’s no better recipe to show them how in-tune you are. The brand’s ‘ghar ka khana’ post wherein the brand encouraged consumers to eat home-cooked meals and only order to satisfy cravings. Relatable and viral content!
You’ve Got This
Indian consumers are value-conscious, but the right experience and value proposition can influence the final purchase decision. Most services now offer single-day or week-long plans to build habit among potential users, who are likely to see value and eventually move on to a more longer term subscription plan. This premium offer is also being tweaked, depending on the type of user, duration or payment methods. Take the example of Netflix, which introduced a new mobile-only plan for India to make video streaming more accessible and appealing.
Today, while the millennials are most likely to pay for audio streaming services, it is the GenZ that is streaming more. As the latter enters the workforce in the next few years, they will be well-positioned to pay for a better experience. Debates around what will encourage listeners to pay for audio content have been a part of company strategies, industry events, and research papers. Audio streaming is still at a nascent stage in India, and if there’s one thing that can shift the tide, is the focus on ‘localising with purpose’. This could be introducing product features just for the country or even regions within, relevant content, developing Lite versions of the product to enable quality audio access in deep geographic pockets etc.
The author is head of market operations – India, Spotify. Views expressed are personal.
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