Vilified by detractors for a no-show in ABC reports for a brief period, business news magazine Businessworld gave a befitting response by first recording 10 per cent growth in circulation as per ABC audited report for January-July 2003 and then following it up with a resounding 22 per cent growth for the period July-September 2003. As per ABC audited figures for July-September 2003, the magazine was sitting pretty with a circulation of 146,532 copies. Interestingly, Business Today did not file its returns for the period while Business India had already relinquished its membership of ABC.
Sandip Ghose, Vice President, Businessworld & The Telegraph, felt the rebound was poetic justice in that the competitor magazines had taken potshots at Businessworld when it did not figure in the ABC report “for certain reasons”. In his view, Businessworld’s strong comeback had induced the competitors to fade out of the numbers-game. Officials of key competitor Business Today were however not available to comment on this.
Ghose said it was evident from the last two ABC reports that “Businessworld was well on its way to wearing the leadership mantle”. The magazine had already overtaken Business Today and Business India in the top eight metros.
Reflecting on the journey to the top, Ghose said “we grew the market with strong marketing initiatives” He attributed the success to the conscious decision not to bring out a ‘me too’ magazine and added that inspiration also came from the way The Economic Times blunted competition.
Ghose added that a carefully thought-out content plan went some distance to give Businessworld the leadership status. “As a weekly, we decided to provide topical information that is easy to assimilate. In doing so, we steered clear of purely entertaining content or academic overload,” he said.
Reiterating the strengths of the magazine, Santanu Biswas, Corporate Manager, Ad Marketing, explained that Businessworld’s superiority in circulation numbers is also reflected in the quality of its readership. “We sell more than a lakh copies in the top 8 metros,” he stated in a release, adding, “It is also the fastest growing business magazine in SEC A1, with an overall readership growth of 75 per cent as per NRS 2003 over NRS 2002.”
A prime mover of Businessworld's success is its portfolio of products--industry handbooks, books and guides, events and focused reader interaction forums.
Looking ahead, Ghose believes that the general interest magazine segment will thin out and that special interest magazines will reach out more. In this backdrop, he said he was bullish on advertising interest in the magazine.
But is the business news magazine segment really creating a buzz? Nitasha Narad, Media Director, Madison Media, is of the opinion that the segment is extremely critical for categories like financial services, IT, and male premium categories. But she added that “their role as an important media vehicle to reach this segment has diminished over the years.”
Narad said the prime reasons for the downslide is that “the same environment is being provided by the financial dailies and importantly the TV news channels which are faster and have much greater reach”.
She explained that the reach of magazines in the TG (for financial services) is significantly lesser than a pink paper (and therefore not a cost effective buy).
Narad cited that other emerging media options like niche magazines and telephony offer cheaper, flexible and focused targeting and a greater frequency of communication with the TG.
When asked if the ABC figures matter in the context of planning, particularly with Business Today and Business India not figuring in the ABC report, she said, “Circulation figures are critical to making publication choices at the overall level. At the operating level, however, readership figures are more important than circulation as readership figures are a clear indication of the exact number of people you are reaching out to.”
“It would be ideal to have circulation figures but any planner can make media decisions based on readership data if the circulation figures are not available,” she said.
The stage is set for Businessworld to attain an even more exalted status in the business news segment, but challenges indeed galore as the media landscape undergoes tectonic shifts.