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Retail-tainment, The New Sunshine Sector

The Indian retail segment is expected to reach USD 1 trillion in the next 5 years as it expands at a CAGR of 15 percent, whereas, the ecommerce market according to a FICCI-PwC report, is projected to rise to USD 125 billion in terms of gross merchandise value (GMV) by 2020, growing at the rate of 31 percent. On the other hand, the Indian entertainment and media (M&E) sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.3 percent over the next 4 years to cross USD 40 billion by 2020, as predicted by PwC’s latest report, Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2016-20. In a tumultuous global scenario, India has managed to make long and steady strides in sectors, which earlier played a miniscule role in the country’s growth story. Now imagine the phenomenal growth the integration of retail and entertainment – Retail-tainment – offers to business.

Retail-tainment is not a new sector, but a developed concept of the West, which is present in India too, though negligibly. Retail-tainment means a commercially-designed experience intended to combine entertainment and retailing. The sector has not been adequately explored and offers immense opportunities to business for enhancing its economic activities and it would not be incorrect to say that it is finding takers in the Indian market.

While the West to its credit has amazing retail-tainment platforms, India too has some of its success stories in smaller cities where the perfect blend of retail with entertainment in a seamless manner has been achieved and these models can be replicated to suit customers’ taste in other parts of the country. It is a good proposition to explore new markets in Tier-III and Tier-IV towns to expand business as spaces in big cities is evaporating really fast. As India is a nation of movie buffs, the attraction must be harnessed to create family entertainment centers where two-screen movie halls, chosen retail outlets, and sumptuous food courts can be developed to cater to the tastes of customers in non-metro regions.

It is expected that 15000 multiplex screens will come up in the country by 2022, and the industry will have to play a proactive role to translate this number into a reality. The government is also facilitating the private sector to develop the retail-tainment in districts and towns by engaging in PPPs. The industry giants are welcoming the new wave of collaboration as government agencies are readily making land and permissions available to the stakeholders in the Tier-III and Tier-IV cities at a fast pace.

But retail-tainment has some challenging issues to address. As India is fast transforming into a customer-centric economy with a demographic dividend, which comprises a young population in the majority and markets flooded with brands, products, and services, it is really a daunting task to hold the attention of the customer who is spoilt for choices and would not shy away from moving to another businessperson for an enhanced experience.

Besides, the burgeoning e-commerce platforms are threatening the very existence of the brick-and-mortar retail sector and making it difficult for them to sustain their market share. This clearly indicates that businesses will have to step out of their comfort zone and innovate and provide the customer a shopping and entertainment experience, which is not just memorable but enthralling. Here, it must also be considered that the customer looks for value for money and if not satisfied, there will definitely be no more repeat footfalls.

To persuade the new-age customers, retail-tainment players will have to be technology savvy and employ it to deliver customized solutions. Innovation and engaging experiences will have to be created for young India, which tends to get distracted easily and shows signs of unpredictable purchasing and market behavior.

Having spent more than two decades in the business arena, I would like to point out that no business can succeed without a well thought out market strategy. The industry will have to be sensitive yet assertive in its approach while marketing the concept of retail-tainment as Indians are not adventurous when it comes to spending.

I can vouch that these are exciting times for business as India is witnessing one of its glorious economic phases with sustainable, inclusive, and smart growth. But in the competitive world where survival of the fittest is the norm, only those stakeholders will remain afloat who will be risk-takers, forward-thinkers, and not hesitate to evolve their market strategies with the times.

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