Talking about the role of elections in supplementing the growth of newspapers, Girish Agarwal, Promoter-Director, Dainik Bhaskar Group, feels that they no longer contribute big numbers for newspapers. In the last quarter, DB Corp showed a growth of 18 per cent as a company, and out of that only 3 per cent was from the elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan – all three states where Dainik Bhaskar is a big player.
Cracking FMCG clients is another thing that print players seem to have gotten right. “For FMCG, I guess one important thing that print has done in the last 10 years or so is that they have understood that the way you sell print to an automobile company or to an electronic company, print cannot be sold the same way to a FMCG company,” pointed out Agarwal. “In case of FMCG, the planner does not have you in the plan at all, so that is where you have to go an initiate the whole process, excite him enough to look into print and give him options which are so called unconventional ways of operating in print,” he added.
Flexibility of print as a medium has a lot to do with this change. “One no longer needs to do extensive internal selling to the editorial department to make an innovation work. Now, all of them have understood that it is not an innovation only for a client, it is an innovation also for the reader, because as a reader will also likes it,” added Agarwal.
Talking about the rise of the vernacular medium and the growth potential that it is showing, Agarwal said that consumption in Tier II and III cities in the last 10 years has gone up and in these cities the newspaper is majorly read in their own language, whether it is Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, etc. English circulation drops down approximately to a single digit percentage of the market share. That is why in the last 10 years the entire growth has happened in the Indian languages and Agarwal urged all the marketers and planners to look around. He also felt that it is important from a creative point of view, for ads to be developed and conceptualised for a specific language.
Agarwal also spoke about the IRS controversy, stating that you cannot say that this is what is exactly happening because you have 3 lakh people, and you can’t superimpose them to a billion of us. You can say that there is an indication coming out, so that approach needs to be corrected. “We have suggested to the MRUC to release the report internally, discuss the issues, if any, and resolve them. We are all part of the same industry; don’t try to be a judge because you are doing a survey for me. They need to understand that they are doing a survey based on my masthead, based on a fee which I pay them. If I don’t allow you to use my masthead, you can’t do a survey on my newspaper,” added Agarwal and stressed that a currency is needed to justify the numbers.
Girish Agarwal shared his views in a conversation with Bharat Patel, Former Chairman, P&G Hygiene and Health and Former Chairman - ISA at the Pitch Madison Media Advertising Outlook 2014 event that was held in Mumbai on February 19, 2014.