And for our next number ….

19 Nov

11 years ago, my friend Rahul Narvekar was VP Marketing at Delhi’s first Mall. Given the sheer novelty of the mall, the crowds were pouring in in torrents, and every single person was shopping …. window shopping.

The revenues had yet to come in.

We think malls just rake the moolah in. The problem is, people use the mall as a picnic spot. They meet pals, they check out the sights, they kill time and amble over to the food court for a snack. More often than not, it is ‘time-pass’.

The next time you are at a mall, just notice how many of the showrooms of the top brands are packed with crowds? Exactly. The salespeople almost fall over themselves in gratitude if you walk in.

Back to my story. This fact was becoming very obvious at Rahul’s mall itself. They knew the novelty would last for some time, but that the returns needed to start soon. When stores dont make money, they first stop paying the rent.

Rahul happened to meet a friend at a radio station headquarters one of those days and mentioned that they were thinking of piping radio channels into the mall to keep people peppy and ‘shoppy’. The channel honcho freaked out. Would Rahul consider playing their station exclusively?

Exclusivity doesn’t come free, as we all know.

So the radio honcho threw in the sweetener: they would also install the entire system. A high-end system, all through the mall.

Install they did. Play they did. Pay they did: a whopping Rs 70 lakhs.

The customers loved it. They fairly danced into the stores. The river began to flow.

If you ever catch yourself listening to radio at a mall in India, remember how it all began. And if you bump into Rahul Narvekar, (the guy at the mall with a wide grin on his face) remember to slap him on the back because you and I know who started this phenomenon in India. And where.

Make Rahul buy you a beer too.

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