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The image of home shopping has been tainted by predatory marketing: Paritosh Joshi

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | November 16, 2009
STAR's home shopping channel, in association with CJ Network, is testing the waters currently

This December, the home shopping television genre will have a new player in STAR CJ, the home shopping channel from the STAR CJ Network, which is the 50:50 joint venture between STAR India and South Korea's CJ Shopping.

Paritosh Joshi, erstwhile president, ad sales and distribution, STAR, is the chief executive officer of the home shopping business. Joshi says that the venture is a combination of a retail company with that of a facilities as well as content company. "Everything, right from the shooting equipments to editing suites and studios, are in-house," Joshi says, implying the massive scale of operations for a channel of this nature.

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There is an elaborate merchandising set up that tracks and ropes in brands from various categories. The logistic operations ensure that the demand is met with sufficient supply at all times and the outbound function that needs to ensure that goods are delivered to customers.

Many have expressed doubts about home shopping channels, given the Indian scenario. The fact that there is only one channel till date, HomeShop18 (Korea based GS Home Shopping has just bought a 15 per cent stake in it), substantiates that belief. Joshi thinks home shopping is not an 'ahead-of-time' concept anymore.

Very often, the single biggest inhibitor for shopping as an activity is lack of knowledge and not money, he reveals. "We want to resolve that with the highest quality of information in an entertaining, non-threatening and accessible way," he states.

However, there still is a major impediment in the business - that of trust and credibility. Audiences have been exposed to dubious products with tall claims on home shopping segments on television channels for several years. To change that mindset and win the trust of customers is a task that still holds.

Joshi calls this task the shift from 'predatory marketing to preference marketing'. "All this while, home shopping has tried to prey on people's insecurities - be it by way of sauna belts or remedies for receding hairline and magic pendants. The image of home shopping has been tainted by predatory marketing," he asserts. While Joshi acknowledges that having the badge of STAR is an added advantage and brings huge credibility to the proposition, he says that it is a responsibility as well.

STAR CJ will be positioned as a premier shopping channel catering to young, upscale metropolitan audiences and will thrive on three key aspects - information, entertainment and access. Only known brands will be featured across categories. Some of the brands that have been roped in are Samsung, Canon, Portico, Hidesign and Satya Paul. The transactions process will be through cash, online transfer and credit cards.

Consumers who do not have easy access to retail outlets or do not have the requisite time for shopping is the channel's target. Apart from metros, Joshi expects to tap into the other affluent states such as Punjab and Gujarat.

Currently, a home shopping time slot, called STAR CJ, is dedicated on STAR Utsav to test the waters. "We need to stress test our system and capabilities," Joshi says. The test has thrown in insights about what categories work and why. As of now, STAR CJ is tapping categories such as kitchen ware, bed linen, electronics, mobile phones, cameras and plans to diversify over time.

Rumour has it that Zee may be reviving its Asian Sky Shop property into a full-fledged home shopping channel and NDTV, too, may launch one. However, it may be a two player market for some time. "The home shopping genre will follow the DTH (direct to home) pattern. Once the market is clearly defined, more players will come in," he says.

The network plans to launch the channel in multiple languages, although not in the near future.

Markets such as the US and the UK are multiplayer markets with names such as Home Shopping Network (HSN), QVC, ShopNBC and Jewelry Television in the US; and Bid TV, QVC UK and Speed Auction TV in the UK, to name a few.