With the Government easing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms for print media, international magazine brands have made a bee-line for India, making market more competitive for national titles. Apart from non-news magazines, a segment that has seen intense competition from foreign titles is women-centric magazines. As experts believe, while the entry of international titles has widened the advertisers’ portfolio for women’s magazines in India, they have also taken away a huge chunk of the ad-pie that national women magazine brands used to enjoy. exchange4media finds out how media planners and publishers view the future of women’s magazines in India.
With the changing status of women in India and ever growing awareness level, the engagement of women with magazines has grown rapidly the country. However, in recent rounds, the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) has reported decline in readership for most of the women’s magazines.
Premjeet Sodhi, President, The Collaborative, explained that for advertisers, women centric magazines have always played the role of ‘engagement’ with the consumers for specific categories. “The hyper-choice which is now available in many women-centric categories has created a higher need for brands to very finely segment consumers into niches. These magazines allow the brands to address a variety of such niche segment,” noted Sodhi.
As international titles hit Indian newsstands in glossy look with rich colour and content; national magazine brands also renovate themselves to remain in the competition. But do international magazine titles, because of their brand value, attract more advertisers than national titles?
Tilt of Advertisers: International vs National
While a section of experts believe that global advertisers do prefer international magazine titles, in any territory, because of their familiarity with the magazines in international arena. Mohit Joshi, Executive Director - North at MPG, has different opinion to share. Joshi noted that it is not necessarily that advertisers get attracted towards international brands than national. “It is a function of the brand and the TG that we are targeting. A Sarita and Grihashobha cannot be substituted by any other foreign magazine as they have their own loyal domains,” noted he.
Meanwhile, Anant Nath, Director, Delhi Press said that the advertisers are confident on regional magazines because they give them higher eye-balls, attention and value for money.
It is pertinent to mention here that English language magazines attract 5-7 per cent of advertising revenue that the print medium generates annually – the mass focus still remains on national and regional magazines.
Nath who publishes women’s magazine Grihshobha and Sarita, stated that from readers’ point of view, there is no impact of international brands on the regional or national brands at all. But he accepted, “International magazines do compete with us in advertising space as ad revenue is being shared by them also.”
Surbhi C Murthy, Associate Vice President, Allied Media, believe, that national magazine those have goodwill and familiarity in country like Femina, Grihshobha, Vanitha among others continue to be fairly popular however the popularity may not reflect in numbers, all the times.
Amid declining readership trends, the good news is that the advertisement pages in women’s magazines have not reduced. Suresh Selveraj, Publishers, Marie Claire, noted, “Competition in the domain is very intense and to grab the ad share is getting tougher. But every magazine has found their own niche even in this segment too. And hence, the volume of advertising in the women- centric magazines have grown year of the year.”
In the same lines, Joshi stated, “There is a clear role that women’s magazines play in the communication mix and hence have always been patronised by the advertisers for the relevant brands.”
Fighting ‘Out of Home’
With newspapers coming up with weekly women supplements, special magazine editions and dedicated pages on fashion, beauty, lifestyle, cooking among others; women’s magazines competing beyond their domain too. Besides, Sodhi noted as the television continues to be a leisure-time-guzzler in India. As increasingly more time being spent out-of-home by females; slowly but surely internet and mobile are also eating into the time of women. All these changes are bound to impact the time spent and affinity for magazines. “As is evidenced in the readership studies – the incidence of regular readership is declining though the variety of readership is certainly going up,” noted he.
Nath of Delhi Press, believe that the role of magazines is undergoing a change with the explosion of new media. “Magazines are becoming more of a information guide for women now and not just being observed as source of entertainment anymore,” he concluded.