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Focus and Bob FM

The apparent success of Austin's KBPA radio station raises some interesting questions about the principle of focus.

KBPA is one of many Bob FM stations around the US and Canada. They all play a wide variety of music from the past four decades. In fact, the Austin station proclaims, "We play anything." Most radio stations focus on a particular genre of music, such as country, hip hop, or classic rock. Along comes Bob and differentiates itself by playing anything.

Is Bob's product focused?

In one sense, it's clearly not focused. It spans the standard musical categories. Until recently, conventional wisdom said that they would be doomed because they had "no format".

But branding and focus are not just about established categories in an industry. Branding and focus are about creating new categories in the mind. If the mind can conceive it and differentiate it from other categories, then it can be a category. There is no reason to stick to established categories. In fact, you're best off creating a new one.

A caveat to keep in mind: focusing on a category shouldn't be your only concern. Focusing on a well-defined psychographic segment of the market is also important.


Roger L. Cauvin said…
You're conflating "category" with "segment". I wrote:

"A caveat to keep in mind: focusing on a category shouldn't be your only concern. Focusing on a well-defined psychographic segment of the market is also important."

The "we play anything" message appeals only to a particular segment of the market. A category is not a segment.
Roger L. Cauvin said…
Cranky, let me try to distill and rephrase your questions:

Q. Is there a psychographic segment that likes to listen to literally anything (i.e. is indiscriminate)?

A. In all likelihood, no. There does appear to be, however, a segment that enjoys listening to a subset of "anything" that nonetheless spans several of the standard musical categories.

Bob FM doesn't really play "anything". That's a code word for something like "popular hits of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s".

Q. If there were a segment that was "indiscriminate", would it be worth targeting?

A. Probably not. Lack of any discrimination whatsoever implies apathy; a lack of an urgent problem or need.

Good questions!

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