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Business News/ Industry / New consumer classification system may claw back TV viewers

New consumer classification system may claw back TV viewers

The new Indian Socio Economic Classification is expected to allow for better targeting of consumers not only by advertisers and marketers but also by broadcasters

ISEC, if adopted by the TV ecosystem, could help niche genres get analysed better.Premium
ISEC, if adopted by the TV ecosystem, could help niche genres get analysed better.

A new socio-economic classification system to for consumers, which takes into account a broader set of factors such as education levels of all adults in a household, will likely re-energize India’s broadcasting sector and help advertisers target better, say industry experts.

The Indian Socio Economic Classification (ISEC), rolled out by Market Research Society of India earlier this week, could improve measurement of audience preferences, potentially breathing life into ailing niche genres such as English entertainment through nuanced, tailored programmes, they said.

ISEC, if adopted across industries, will replace the New Consumer Classification System (NCCS) that only factored in the education of the primary earner in a household and the presence of certain consumer durable items such as ceiling fan or a colour television.

ISEC considers not only a household’s chief earner’s occupation but also education of the highest educated male and female adults to classify consumers. It also takes on a more advanced approach and will allow for better targeting by advertisers and marketers.

“ISEC is an interesting system and if adopted by the TV ecosystem, could help niche genres get analysed better," Shashi Sinha, CEO of IPG Mediabrands India and chairman of television monitoring agency BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) said. 

There are, however, many moving parts to the adoption of the new system, Sinha pointed out. It would have to be put to the BARC Board, which would then form an advisory committee to evaluate the same. If all stakeholders are aligned, factors like whether each audience segment comes with sample stability, will have to be checked for, and more members recruited, if that isn’t the case.

The earlier system of classification was definitely old-fashioned given that India has seen a large shift in the consumer landscape, media experts say, with ownership of consumer durables like those taken into consideration becoming increasingly common across households, therefore, allowing for disproportionately high upper segments (NCCS-A and B) and making for less efficient programming and advertising, in turn.

ISEC is considerably more stable than NCCS, hence omitting the need for frequent updates, market research industry body MRSI said in a statement. Its discriminating quality is visible with each class or tier behaving differently, thus being more relevant as the economy develops with improvements in standards of living, increased asset ownership, infrastructure development and government interventions, the body pointed out.

A senior executive at a broadcast network said much of the television business died, as a result of inefficient targeting and measurement. “Now it could be easier to sell English or other niche channels to advertisers. Plus, as the penetration of connected TV grows, top grids of ISEC will show higher OTT share, allowing for more compelling, edgy programming," the person added.

Vivek Malhotra, group chief marketing officer, India Today Group said following a socio-economic classification system that is representative of the population ensures that the industry is marching forward with efficiency. "It ensures that the money spent is being spent correctly and more effectively. ISEC gives us that confidence and we are certain that this is a step forward in the direction of economic growth and development," Malhotra said in a statement.

Industry bodies like IBDF (Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation) stand to gain from the development. The association, however, declined to comment on Mint’s queries on possible impact of the new classification system.

“(This is) the most progressive and refreshing news on measurement in contemporary times. The marketing and media community stands to gain. (However) Devil lies in the details on how it unfolds," said Sunil Lulla, founder, The Linus Adventures, a consulting service.

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Lata Jha
Lata writes about the media and entertainment industry for Mint, focusing on everything from traditional film and TV to newer areas like video and audio streaming, including the business and regulatory aspects of both. She loves movies and spends a lot of her free time in theatres, which makes her job both fun and a bit of a challenge given that entertainment news often just talks about the glamorous side of things. Lata, on the other hand, tries to find and report on themes and trends in the entertainment world that most people don't notice, even though a lot of people in her country are really into movies. She’s a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.
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Published: 22 Feb 2024, 05:13 PM IST
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