Battlelines are drawn as Hindi dailies gear up to fight for a larger share of the market. Dainik Jagran, which currently has two editions from Punjab – Ludhiana and Jalandhar – has reduced its price from Rs 2 to Re 1. The new pricing strategy is effective from July 24, 2006.
The new price applies to the editions on Monday to Friday. Price of the weekend editions remain unchanged.
Despite several attempts, Dainik Jagran officials refused to comment on the development. In fact, they even tried to play down the price cut issue.
It may be noted here that Dainik Bhaskar had recently announced its plans to get into Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar by September 2006. The price reduction by Dainik Jagran is being seen as a move to pre-empt the stiff competition likely to be posed by Bhaskar’s entry.
What’s more, Punjab Kesari, too, is viewed as a strong competitor for Dainik Jagran.
According to Sanjeev Kotnala, Senior General Manager, Brand Strategy and Communication, Dainik Bhaskar, “Change of cover price is an individual decision of a newspaper and there are many possible reasons which may not be obvious to a superficial scrutiny. Dainik Jagran’s decrease of cover price to Re 1 much in advance to Dainik Bhaskar’s launch shows that they are feeling the heat and the threat. Their readers are not truly bonded with them and Jagran fears Bhaskar’s methodical launch process and its brand building efforts.”
He further said, “We would also like to point out that Bhaskar has always expanded the market, so well demonstrated in earlier expansions and launches, and Punjab will not be any different.”
When one player reduces or increases its price, it becomes important for other players to follow suit in order to remain competitive and this phenomenon is quite common across all the sectors of media. Offering his take on the issue, Amit Chopra, Director, Punjab Kesari Group, insisted, “Jagran’s price reduction has not impacted Punjab Kesari at all.”
Commenting more on the issue, Chopra, said, “When one or more players start offering lower price in a market it raises the readers expectations from the other players in the market (even the market leaders) to respond in some manner. Different publications have adopted different strategies in this regard. Times of India started offering Mumbai Mirror free with its paper following the launch of Hindustan Times in Mumbai. Hindustan Times itself lowered its cover price in 1993 when Times of India started offering invitation price in Delhi.”
“Punjab Kesari has always given value for money to its readers and advertisers. With or without competition, we have been innovating and offering more to readers and advertisers whether it be issuance of glossy supplements or more pages or more colour”, Chopra asserted.
Punjab Kesari will decide on their next move based on the feedback from Dainik Jagran’s price reduction. However, Chopra made it clear that the cover price of Saturday, which at present is Rs 3, would be rolled back. He said, “We see no justification in maintaining a higher cover price on Saturdays and might roll back that increase made in January-February this year.”
Whether or not other players will follow the same path as taken by Dainik Jagran is yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure that its now reigning choices before the readers who stand to gain maximum advantage by having more and more choices to pick up from.