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Print needs to build its local muscle: Rahul Kansal

23-July-2012
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Print needs to build its local muscle: Rahul Kansal

The Indian Newspaper Kongress (INK) 2012, held on July 20 in New Delhi, put the spotlight on newspapers. Organised by exchange4media Group, the annual event aims to understand what the future holds for the newspaper industry, as stakeholders contemplated on how to bring about further growth for the medium. INK 2012 was presented by Dainik Jagran. Business Standard was the print partner.

A migration of revenues is happening from big cities to smaller towns, largely because of a saturation-like situation building up in the big cities, observed Rahul Kansal, Executive President, BCCL. According to him, this is not because people in Mumbai or Delhi have stopped buying newspapers, but because the buying power in smaller towns has increased.

As for The Times Group, 20 years ago, they had chosen to be at the “top end of the pyramid” to dominate the metro-residing, English-speaking consumer, in terms of target audience. It was a period when many brands were launched - like telecom brands, mobile phones, costly refrigerators targeting the top of South Delhi, South Mumbai audience. “At that time that strategy worked for us,” he said. Progressively, the benefits of development percolated to the next tier, and then clearly, it became evident that the advertising pie, in proportionate terms, had been moving downwards to smaller towns.

Synergising English and metro strengths to develop new regional strength
Market indices indicated the growth of regional advertising, which had picked up well in the last two years. For The Times Group, the strategy was to partner with strong regional players and, to take their national newspapers down to small towns. They had been aggressive in launching editions in Patna, Ranchi, Indore, Bhopal, Nagpur, Nasik. “We would be looking at synergising English and metro strengths to develop a new regional strength,” he said. TOI Group has the bandwidth to do straddle both ends of the spectrum, and “collaborations, tie-ups may be the answer for the benefit of both”.

Going more local to build cultural connect
About taking the national experience to the regional level, he said that a national brand like TOI cannot consider itself just ‘national’, but “we call ourselves a federation organisation” where each edition tries to be as ‘local’ as possible. Going more local to build a cultural connect with the local clients, is what TOI did, explained Kansal. For example they did “celebrate festivals” well; like in Mumbai they did the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, in Bengal the Durga Puja and in Kerala it was Onam; they also took up local causes like ‘Gurgaon Shame’ in Gurgaon, after a spate of rapes in the area. “We are building down, and we see the opportunity to go to small towns, because that’s where the market growth is. Today local media has its own strength, but they have to wake up to the fact that we are getting strong there,” said Kansal. As they go along and develop exclusive readership in Lucknow, Jaipur, Indore, etc marketers will have no option but to eye them with importance.

Digitisation
He observed that digitisation initially started with people in larger towns, in tech-friendly cities like Bangalore, Pune and then it took time to filter down. He felt that currently, their language portals like Navbharat Times reveal good growth rates. “At this point of time we are new in language print, and we need to develop a strong language presence. Digitisation may follow later,” Kansal said.

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