Bucking the trend: Magazines that have launched during the slowdown

Bucking the trend: Magazines that have launched during the slowdown

Author | Puneet Bedi Bahri | Thursday, Apr 09,2009 8:07 AM

Bucking the trend: Magazines that have launched during the slowdown

Even as quite a few publications have either closed down or deferred launch plans, there are some that are bucking the slowdown trends and hitting news stands in a planned manner. These include RPG’s ‘Open’, Pathfinder Publishing’s maiden title ‘Career’s 360’, ‘Technology Review’, ‘Harper’s Bazaar’, Delhi Press ‘The Caravan’, Images Group’s ‘FNL’ and ‘Salon’, and Gill India Communications’ ‘What Women Want’, and ‘Lifestyle Living’.

exchange4media finds out from these new entrants how to make the most of the slowdown and launch and survive in tough market conditions.

Launching despite the slowdown

Umesh Kumar, Publisher, RPG Publications, told exchange4media, “We had planned out the launch almost a year ago, and when we undertook a review in December 2008, we decided to continue with our plans. As a group, we are committed to pursuing our growth and investment plans despite the present challenges. We believe we must continue investing now so that we are better positioned to ride the boom when it happens. Our other group companies, too, are going ahead with their investment plans – for instance, Ceat has gone ahead in putting up a Rs 700 crore radial plant in Gujarat. So, we are going for growth and are prepared to invest in the future.”

Commenting on the reasons for going ahead with the launch plans Anant Nath, Director, Delhi Press, said, “We had been planning the launch of the two magazines – ‘The Caravan’ and ‘Live IT’ – for over an year and it did not make sense to hold back the launch since we had already invested a lot of effort in developing the magazines editorially. Since both these magazine have been completely developed in-house, they are not encumbered by the financial implications that an internationally licensed publication has. Most of the magazines whose rollouts have been withheld would have been such licensed publications, where usually the investments are on a larger scale and, therefore, it becomes critically important that revenues start trickling in from the beginning.”

Pradeep Gupta, Chairman and Publisher of CyberMedia, said, “CyberMedia and MIT’s ‘Technology Review’ entered into a relationship in July 2008 to bring MIT’s Emerging Technologies conference as well as ‘Technology Review’ to India. The two international offerings needed about 6-8 months to put together and it was logical for us to launch them as scheduled.”

He further said, “‘Technology Review India’s inaugural issue came out in March 2009 to coincide with EmTech India 2009 and we shall have the regular monthly issues starting June 2009 as planned.”

Giving his expertise, Mahesh Peri, Publisher, Outlook Magazine, said, “The plan is a very tight and robust one. Education and careers are slightly recession proof and I felt this was the best time to launch the magazine as there is a dire need for such a magazine in bad times.”

Advantages of launching at a time like this

Commenting on the advantages, RPG Publications’ Kumar said, “Unlike other established brands, we were perhaps better optimised and cost conscious from the word go. Also, the current situation has allowed us to hire good resources at more reasonable salaries. As against other brands, we are in the investing phase, and given the pressure on current players to bring down their Pos, we have a distinct opportunity to invest sensibly and build our circulation and readership base quickly. From advertisers’ perspective, we are creating a media vehicle that singlemindedly focuses on SEC A1+ audience, thus minimising wastage for brands that are eyeing this segment. Given the current economic slowdown and marketing budgets coming under pressure, our advertiser proposition becomes even more attractive.”

Delhi Press’ Nath noted, “Since there are fewer launches in such a lean phase, it becomes easier to make your mark on readers and advertisers alike. Not that advertising is easy to attract when budgets are being cut, but then the cost of marketing the magazines are also much lower and in an environment that is far less cluttered than in a boom time. Editorially, for home grown publications, downturn could actually be a better time to roll out. It gives the edit team more opportunities to really experiment and develop the magazine and prepare it as a strong product for the next boom cycle.”

“When the going is good, even a sub-standard editorial product can attract good advertising and there is a fear that the edit team might live under false beliefs of success. In a downturn, on the other hand, the edit team is working under the challenge that only a strong quality editorial product will succeed and attract those hard fought readers and advertisers. Therefore, that added reason to put all that more thought and creativity in developing the magazine,” he added.

Gupta said, “CyberMedia sees ‘Technology Review India’ and EmTech India becoming the most-respected source of features, analysis and news on emerging technologies and their impact in India. While India has many polished technology magazines in specific verticals, it lacked a thought-leader publication and conference on the innovation economy and breakthrough technologies. ‘Technology Review India’ and EmTech India will fulfill this need as India takes its place among the first rank of entrepreneurial nations driven by technological innovations.”

Peri, added, “We had easy access on the news stands. There was no clutter in launches and we got all the space required. From the audience perspective, we are giving them a product that they need the most in these times.”

How they went about the launch

Kumar explained, “We have very critically reviewed all our cost structures and ensured that every single penny invested is linked to returns, albeit with a long term perspective. Moreover, we have re-aligned our business plans with the foreseeable market conditions, thereby putting us in a better state of preparedness to meet any challenges.”

While Nath was of the view, “The important thing is to work in lean budgets with a tight control on spending expenditures. We made sure not to be overambitious with our marketing plans and revenue expectations, and worked with more pragmatic projections.”

Gupta added, “‘Technology Review’ comes with the 109-year heritage and strong linkages with research at MIT. A well-regarded magazine with superior content gives us the confidence to attract advertisers at a time when they are getting selective in choosing advertising options.”

Peri, quipped, “Nothing specific, just that the plan was tightened to face a prolonged sluggishness in the market.”

Market response so far

On the market response, Kumar said, “It has been just six days since the launch. On the circulation side, our first offtake reports are very positive. We are seeing a much higher offtake from more upmarket locations and organised retail stores like Crossword, Landmark, Spencer’s, etc. We have received overwhelming product feedback suggesting that readers are seeing ‘Open’ as a magazine with international and contemporary look and feel, with content that is very different from any other magazine in the same genre.”

“On the advertising side, we’ve had very encouraging response from advertisers like Toyota, SBI, luxury real estate brand like Total Environment, etc. Similarly, other premium brands have shown remarkable confidence in the product and are beginning to see this as a potent medium to reach out to the affluent and evolved Indian,” he added.

Gupta, too, claimed that the response from both readers and advertisers had been good.

“The response has been absolutely fantastic. It just proves that when you try to create a product around the fundamental needs of the audience, it works,” added Peri.

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