Music, Mothers, Memories – How Carvaan crafted its success story

Carvaan, the portable digital music player from Saregama India, has broken various industry norms and further fortified the presence of retro music among different generations, including the millennials with its 5,000 pre-loaded evergreen Hindi songs from legends like Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, RD Burman and many more. 

Recently, Saregama yet again redesigned modern technology in the most simplistic way for the ease of access and portability with the launch of Carvaan Go, which comes preloaded with 3,000 evergreen songs categorised into Artistes, Specials and pre curated Playlists, FM/AM and a micro SD card slot for listeners’ personal music. 

In conversation with Adgully, Vikram Mehra, Managing Director, Saregama India, takes us through Carvaan’s impressive journey and success story. 

Please take us through Carvaan’s success story?
2015 was the year when Carvaan was born. We were conducting this massive research study across 23 cities to understand the music consumption behaviour of Indians and a lot of things that we as a company are doing now is derived from that study, One of the biggest things that we realised at that time was that the people who were big fans of music wanted Rafi Sahab, Kishore Da, Lata Didi, Asha Tai, Jagjeet Sahab. The typical 35-years and above crowd were the bigger patrons of this music. They told us that the music that they loved was very difficult to get hold of. We were taken aback by this input since all our music was available across digital platforms. It then dawned upon us that as people grow older, their fear of technology starts cropping and they find it difficult to operate the newer apps and digital products and start avoiding them. 

Another feedback that we got was that earlier things were simple. All one needed to do was switch on the radio and they got to listen to their favourite songs throughout the day as the radio used to play continuously as people went about their chores. It made us realise that that more than the music what people are craving for was the simplicity of consuming that music. Just switch on the system and listen to the music – no complicated dials and settings. 

Thus, Carvaan is as much about music as it is about the convenience of listening to music wrapped around with nostalgia. Songs have this amazing ability to bring back so many past memories. Thus, nostalgia is an important part of our offering. 

A third aspect is promoting Carvaan as a gifting option for one’s parents or the elderly in one’s family. Instead of gifting the usual items like clothes, mobile phones, shoes, why not gift something a little more personal? After all, Music is personal, music is nostalgia, music is memories. By combining these aspects we came up with the idea of promoting Carvaan as the ultimate gifting product – not just on special event/ occasions, but also just to say a simple ‘Thank You’ to strengthen relationships. That’s the insight on which Carvaan’s journey is moving ahead. 

Read More: Saregama Carvaan campaign ranked most effective in the world for 2018

What have been the key factors that have contributed in the success of Carvaan?
There is only one factor and that is that we have heard what the customer wanted. We desisted from assuming what the customer wanted. There are just three buttons on the Carvaan set – Artist, Moods and Geetmala. Initially, my team wanted to put touch buttons only because the world was going the touch way. However, when we tested the product, customers rejected the touch button. The world that we live in today, we assume that everybody is very comfortable with the digital part, but that’s actually a mistake that we tried to avoid. You need to go around and spend time with the customers across the country. 

Carvaan is seen as a product that bridges two generations. How are you now looking to expand the brand proposition?
Our brand proposition currently is that the music you have grown up with, you can now access it in the most convenient fashion. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the brand promises to be a gifting item with a deeper meaning along with the gesture of gifting something as personal as this product is a way of acknowledging how the other person has had an important role in your life. The brand is now also coming up with versions like Carvaan- Go, which is not about gifting but self consumption. 

As per your latest financial results, Carvaan saw a 132 per cent growth and registered sales over 903K units in FY 2018. Where has this growth majorly come from?
The results are part of the larger phenomenon in the first six months of the year. We have started expanding to the smaller towns now. There are variants of Carvaan that are coming up. First, we had Carvaan only in Hindi, now we have Carvaan Tamil, Carvaan Marathi, Carvaan Bengali, and we have just launched Carvaan Punjabi. We also have a smaller Carvaan, called Carvaan – Mini, which is dedicated to Rabindra Sangeet, Gurbani, devotional music, Tamil legends, Telugu legends, Malayalam legends, Hindi legends. So, we are building the variants to assure that growth comes from all parts of the country. 

What is the distribution penetration for Carvaan?
We are using electronics stores, mobile phone stores, gifting stores, all e-commerce sites, including our own site. Our objective is to make it as easy as possible for somebody to buy Carvaan. We are also demonstrating Carvaan outside every Gurudwara, every Temple with smaller versions of Carvaan dedicated to Gurbani and devotional music. We are also demonstrating the product outside parks, where people come for their morning walk. 

Our latest product, Carvaan- Go is something that you can use when you go for your walk. Carvaan- Go is targeted more at the 45-60 age group, as well as for people who live a very active life, who drive every day to work and have got a lot of me-time in the car or during commute, even in flights. When you want to listen to music on the move but don’t want to exhaust your phone battery, Carvaan- Go is the answer. 

What is your advertising and communication strategy for Carvaan?
A lot of people have told us that they gifted Carvaan to their parents after watching our first advertisement, which showed a mother listening to the songs on Carvaan when she is alone. The ad film showcased how music fills the void in people’s lives. We have been told that not just parents, but people are gifting Carvaan to their old teachers, even their watchmen and anyone who helped them create memories from childhood to show gratitude towards them.


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