Amit Nair shares insights from Zee Zest’s digital-first strategy to grow on TV

Amit Nair Zee Zest

Amit Nair talks about the various aspects of starting a new lifestyle channel in the middle of a pandemic and how the legacy of Zee helped them with Zee Zest.

Zee Zest is a new lifestyle channel that has been launched by the Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited. The team plans to build it as a 360-degree platform wherein every show broadcasted on television will be amplified using digital and social media platforms. The website is to be used for catchup of TV content with digital-first originals and trending stories to support and extend the scope of the channel’s reach online. These efforts are being backed with a mobile-first design strategy. The social handles will drive new ideas for brands to engage via content publishing.

Amit Nair, Business Head, Zee Zest tells us more.

Could you share your experience of launching a lifestyle channel amidst the pandemic? How did the situation impact your launch strategy?

We focused on curating content which is aspirational, stress-free and helps satiating one’s curiosity. We wanted the audience to get a variety of content across the range of lifestyle and hence brought in the best of shows around food, travel, lifestyle, home improvement, and culture. The pandemic did not affect our launch strategy as we are very process-driven and the systems and people came together to deliver all on time in full.

Going forward, how do you plan to position and market the new channel? 

The idea will be to focus on broad basing our offerings in terms of original content and use that as a base to promote the new brand. There are several exciting ideas and initiatives planned both on TV and Digital and will see a gradual roll out in the coming months. From digital-first content to opening up of international markets we expect a lot of action happening with Zee Zest.

What would be the persona and USP of Zee Zest? How do you expect these aspects to transition and evolve in the next few months as new normal becomes a reality?

The identity of the brand is of high energy, desi cool twist and to UnLimit one’s life through its offerings. These are early days for the brand but we will continue to evolve in terms of needs and expectations of the consumer.

Could you tell us about your key target audiences?

Zee Zest is bringing some of the biggest names in international lifestyle content seasons exclusively to India. The content is, therefore, an encapsulation of travel, lifestyle, home improvement, food, wellness and culture. The lifestyle genre is beyond the limit and hence, Zee Zest serves as a platform for brands to reach a focused SEC A target audience through the channel. Zest is a channel that appeals to the adventurous, experimental, imaginative and who are exploratory in nature.

What are some of the key content-related decisions that were taken for Zee Zest that you wouldn’t have expected in pre-COVID-19 times?

How to shoot content: Usually, studios are booked but this time for the comfort of crew and talent we shot them in actual bungalows that we then dressed up to make it theme-appropriate.

Subject Matter: Look at Food Veda where we do a deep dive into the Ayurvedic principles of cooking with Chef Kunal Kapur. The nascent trend of eating natural, being cautious about hygiene and keeping the beneficial essence of each ingredient by not overcooking it – all have been addressed by this show. The messaging is subtle and ancient Science has been simplified to the viewer so that it can be actually be adapted and followed.

Topicality and Youngsters in the Kitchen Trend: The impending festival all lead us to create Meetha Toh Banta Hai… a showcase of the best of Indian Mithai. We also launched a young face with it to connect to the Trend of youngsters visiting the Kitchen more often and experimenting, helping their friends and family. The average age of Chef/Host on Zest speaks to the young demographic of India quite powerfully

Food Shareability, Group Chat: Food Discovery was a major Trend during this phase and India’s 50 Best Dishes again taps into current trends of group chat, group share with cuisine having a very high shareability. This is a ready reckoner of the Best Dishes from across India selected by 3 groups of people – Chefs, Food Aficionados and Bloggers/Fans. It was a fun way to engage with different opinions that wanted to express in the tough situation we all were in and still are.

Best of World while Being at Home: The travel constraints imposed by Covid-19 meant people wanted to see other popular international Faces, Places, People, Destinations with different cultures — our acquisition slate comprising of Jamie Oliver, Anthony Bourdain, Cook Like an Italian, Far Flung with Gary Mehigan, MasterChef Australia – you name it and the best of International Food and Travel Storytelling is on Zee Zest. It offers Diversity of cuisine, communities and their culture.

How has the pandemic affected the TV industry and how do you think the experience will shape in times to come?

We live in an age of multiple entertainment choices. A consumer is subscribing to OTT platforms and is hooked on to the TV as well as both have their unique offerings. This co-existing period has taught us that each platform caters to different content needs and consumption occasions of the consumers. Digital platforms are not cannibalising television viewership and TV’s mass reach is unparalleled. With Zee Zest, we are using a dual strategy to reach consumers across both platforms, further making it an attractive proposition for advertisers.

From a business perspective, what are some of the key challenges you think Zee Zest would face in 2021?

Till the world goes back fully to normal there will be challenges. However, understanding and adapting to evolving audience requirements post-COVID-19 is a very important aspect that we want to focus on. We will make sure we design our offerings on-air, online and on-ground to suit the demand in the market.

Being a part of a bigger network is bound to come with advantages as well as challenges for a new channel. Could you help us understand how things stand for Zee Zest in this regard?

All channels face challenges whether new or old. At ZEE, we take business decisions considering all our cluster channels and focus on how each can benefit from the steps taken. When Zee Zest launched, the other channels in the family extended promotional support across mediums. Zee, with decades of experience, brings great consumer insights and thus provides inputs for newer channels to follow. The consumer is the king and we will invest to build a diverse portfolio of original shows and the best of acquired content to keep the audiences engaged.

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Jagruti Verma
Jagruti is a mass media student in search for all things perfect. A lover of stories, book worlds and signs, she can find magic in almost everything she sees, reads and writes. Follow her on Twitter @JagrutiVerma

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