Sravanthi Challapalli

Chennai, July 6

Shopping channel Star CJ Alive, which is going to be a 24 X 7 channel in a few weeks from now, says its greatest challenge will be to get consumers around to shopping off a TV rather than in a modern retail store.

Speaking to Business Line, Mr Paritosh Joshi, CEO, Star CJ Network India, said the venture would “require a considerable re-engineering of the consumer's belief as it's asking for a big shift in attitude and behaviour.”

24-hour TV shopping channels are an infant category in the country and the first, Home Shop 18, is less than two years old. “We tend to get conflated with teleshopping … we're not in the business of shani yantras, vegetable choppers and nazar suraksha kavach – much teleshopping has the image of dodgy, spurious stuff – but my environment is the same as any high-end, modern retail store,” says Mr Joshi.

Star CJ Alive now operates for a few hours on Star Utsav. It is a joint venture between Star Asia and South Korean home shopping major, CJ O Shopping Co Ltd.

It was launched in July 2009. It offers products in categories such as mobile phones, digital cameras, computers, home appliances, premium apparel, beauty, furnishings, jewellery and watches. Some premium brands such as Hidesign, Satya Paul, adidas, D'damas and Corelle are now launching their products on Star CJ before even launching them at their retail outlets, the channel claims.

There will be category specialists to present programmes, which will not only play out live but take live queries from the users.

Purchasing power

There will be no advertising for now and the wholesale margins are the primary source of income, Mr Joshi said.

Viewership in the conventional sense doesn't matter as the targets are viewers who are shoppers. The strategy is geared to the purchasing power of a particular city. The shoppers targeted would be those at the higher end of the mid-market but not the super-premium or the discount customer either.

The programmes will originally be in Hindi and when the company can fund its own expansion, other options will be explored.

Dubbing the show into other languages is not simple as, within the same category, expectations, price points, tastes and needs across cities are going to be different, Mr Joshi says. So far, transactions per day average 300-400 and the average check-out hovers at Rs 2,500-3,000.

On reasons to be upbeat about business, Mr Joshi says that globally, it's seen that when modern trade grows, both store and non-store trade (Internet, TV, catalogue) grow. Quoting reports and predictions that modern trade in India will grow to $400 billion within 5-6 years, he says that if non-store business grows to even 10 per cent of that, it's a $40-billion opportunity.

Quoting McKinsey and Ernst & Young studies, the channels says the home shopping industry, which includes e-commerce, catalogue shopping and tele-shopping, growing at 35 per cent annually, is expected to become a $10-billion industry by 2012 (from $2.5 billion in 2008). Convenience shopping is catching on among youth and housewives. The customer base is expected to increase from 280 million in 2002 to 686 million by 2010. A report published by Media Partners Asia (MPA) in April 2010, DTH subscribers in India will climb from a net installed base of 17 million in 2009 to reach 45 million by 2014 and 58 million by 2020. The study also predicts digital cable will grow to 29 million by 2020 while cable broadband will grow from 850,000 homes in 2009 to three million by 2014.

Mr Santanu Dasgupta, Vice-President (Corporate Affairs & Strategy), Whirlpool of India, says that as a mass brand, it wants to be available on all channels. People are seemingly interested in demonstrations on TV and TV channels too spend a lot more time detailing the product. “It gets you a lot of publicity,” he says, adding that “we do it without getting into a conflict with the other trade channels.”

Mr Nikhil Ahuja, Assistant Manager, Lotus Herbals, which is a brand partner on the channel, says home shopping from the Internet and TV channels accounts for about 25 per cent of sales. New customers from new places are another advantage, he says.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 7, 2010)
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