Even as newspaper publishers in India are still experimenting on way to customise their offering to reach a targeted audience, one of the most recent business ideologies has been of taking the youth-centric route. In the decade gone, newspapers not only launched supplements and editions for this TG, but they also adopted modern style with effervescent colours, layouts and next-gen lingo. While, some of the experiments were prolific; many turned out to be a “fiasco”.
Quite a few attempts have been seen to attract this elusive TG. In 2004, HT launched HT Next; in January 2011, Amar Ujala announced the launch of Yuvan in Uttar Pradesh, a youth-centric newspaper. Standalone attempts such as E-sense Entertainment’s Yuva were also seen as early as 2008. The list of mainline players attempting to reach the youth includes the likes of Hindustan, NaiDunia, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, Navbharat Times, Prabhat Khabar and even some English newspapers beginning with The Times of India and Hindustan Times.
Some players continue to work hard to make a mark on the youth TG. And some have already realised it is not easy – Yuva was quick to turn magazine format and Hindustan dropped its youth supplement from Bihar.
Does the ‘youth centric’ position work for newspapers to attract readers and advertisers?
A youth-centric theme can work
According to industry experts, youth are multi-taskers and manage huge volumes of information at any given time. The approach to youth-centric properties, from an advertiser standpoint, hence is two-pronged – one that would still be attracted by the jargon ‘youth centric’ itself, and the other that delves deeper to create properties which connect and engage the youth. One obvious challenge, however, comes in the measurement of these offering. Much depends on these supplements and editions showing separate readership and circulation figures.
From the publishers’ view, there is still hope. Alok Sanwal, Editor, i-Next, believed that while in a conducive environment the youth route could work, the industry still needed to focus on the youth segment with more specific strategy.
Adding to this viewpoint, Aman Nayar, Brand Manager, Navbharat Times, noted that when a paper had a youth-centric positioning, it was not just the demographically young, but the psychographically young also that could get hooked. He cited, “Like Nike is worn not just by 18 year olds but also anyone in his 40s who is still active and young-minded. So, the progressive father will pick up and read the paper his son loves to read. Advertisers obviously love this young-minded TG.”
But is the attempt to get this young-minded TG also making way to media plans?
In or Out?
Rajiv Gopinath, COO, Madison Media, remarked that youth-centric newspapers were being considered in media plans as at a low cost and very specific TG in a specific market could be reached through them.
Mohit Joshi, Director-North, MPG India, agreed and added, “However, dailies as a format have much higher cost per thousands (CPTs) and hence, the other mediums become more cost effective, unless it is a tightly geographically targeted plan.”
Sushma Jhaveri, Senior VP, Carat Media India, on the other hand, said that currently there weren’t too many youth centric newspapers in media plans. She remarked, “Earlier, JLT or JAM used to be part of media plans, but those kinds of products are not there in the market today.”
For these experts, there are some clear guidelines that can lay the foundation for a successful youth-centric product. The post-1985 generation has its own lingo, its own mannerisms, shorthand and mixture of languages that make it unique. Rajiv Gopinath advised, “An acknowledgment of the uniqueness of this target and using the same in a newspaper product can gain acceptance in this TG. But a superficial approach will result in failure.”
Experts also believe that the biggest threat youth-centric print faces is the Internet. Jhaveri observed that if youth newspapers were able to differentiate their content significantly from what was available on the Internet, the products would gain.
Mohit Joshi voices the section that asks for reinventing of youth-centric newspapers. He cites the examples of magazines to illustrate his point.
The media scenario in the country is changing rapidly and new media – mobile, Internet and social networking – has become the youth mindset’s natural habitat. Add to that, the growing reach of TV and the challenge for newspapers is multiplied. But from getting the youth on board for editorial or initiating a free subscription model supported by advertising, there does seem to be a list that if media owners followed, youth-centric newspapers can ensure attention of their target and hence, a place in media plans.
Customised papers: Time is right, more focus needed – Part 1