One of the interesting sessions on day two of the Indian Magazine Congress 2006 dealt with the age-old problem of the right distribution strategy peculiar to the magazine industry – whether to go for the subscription model or the newsstand model.
For magazines, the age-old problem of the right distribution strategy peculiar to this industry, whether to go for the subscription model or newsstand model, got some though -provoking insights concluding that it is all about the right mix for the right product.
Regina Ng of Time Inc said, “It all varies from market to market. US is a subscription driven market whereas UK is newsstand driven. It also depends on the publication and varies from category to category. Even within the same category, it may vary from title to title depending on the different strategy of individual magazines. One has to think what could be the right proportion and strategy for the Indian market.”
According to Himanshu Pandit of Outlook, “Newsstands are very good for making a positive noise for a publication. Subscriptions give the profile of a reader. However, a newsstand reader is more engaged with the product. One tends to reach fastest through newsstand than through subscription-based model. However, there could be no rule of thumb applied and one has to see from category to category.”
India Today Group’s Vivek Gaur said, “Magazine is an impulse product. One has to decide his strategy according to the relevant audience one is targeting. The key thing to address is what is the cost of acquisition of targeted audience and how to monetise it. The debate should be how to make the right mix of subscription and newsstand based model rather than one versus the other.”
Reader’s Digest’s Ashish Chadda felt, “The subscription model has not been fully exploited as yet. Most people work under the assumption that subscription is on a discount price and hence, not profitable which is wrong. If you are a niche publication and don’t have much advertisers on board, then subscription model is the most viable model.”
Gaur said, “The industry is so small that it can not go beyond a point. We can’t compare ourselves with the distribution system put in place by soft drink giants like Pepsi and Coca Cola. Out options are very limited.”
“India does not have a national distributor. The Indian Magazine association should think of creating such a body,” said Ng.
Looking from the advertisers’ perspective, she said, “Advertisers are now looking more at readership figures rather than circulation figures. One time advertisers look at putting their ads in magazines following the newsstand model where as regular advertisers looking to reach the same audience again and again put their money on the magazines high on subscription model.”
“At newsstands what sells is the cover story,” she added.
While Forbes and Fortune have 4-5 per cent of their circulation through newsstands, Outlook in India has equal share, whereas Business Today has 65 per cent of its circulation coming from newsstands.
Speaking on the next session on ‘Sustainable digital strategies for content creation and deliver…,’ moderator Srikant Khandekar of Agencyfaqs.com said that magazines didn’t get enough time to establish themselves when too many developments happened during the 90s in other mediums.
“Digital media is the new way of media consumption which is throwing many challenges and opportunities to publishers,” said Deepender Sehajpal of Media Estate.
Sailesh Shekhar of HT.com said, “Magazines need to have a proactive digital strategy. Commerce will follow with the right content and loyal community base in place.”