Time and again industry experts have mulled over how to overhaul magazine licensing in order to deliver flexibility and authenticity simultaneously.
Giving an insight into how the India Today Group manages its magazine bouquet, Mala Sekhri, COO, Lifestyle Magazines and Music Today, India Today Group said that her group cherry picks brands. When the group had started venturing out, its magazines were called publications, but now they are called and perceived as brands, which marks a tremendous shift in perceptions of viewing the magazine business.
According to Sandra Gotelli, international publisher and Head of Licensing, Mondadori, the flexibility parameter in today’s magazine business is very important. She added that being one of the last players in the licensing arena, she has a different approach towards granting of license, and if it works one way, life will not be easier for both the partners (that is, licensee and licensor). She further mentioned that while in 2009, where events used to be part of the license grant proposal, the proposal now includes everything – from website to social network to tablets, etc. “In the future any media could be a possibility,” she observed.
Indranil Roy, President, the Outlook Group remarked that marketing investment continues to be a challenge and stressed that flexibility should exist from the licensee to the extent of publicity only.
For Joanna Alexandre, Head of Licensing and Syndication at Immediate Media, partnerships are important. She added that the finances should be kept in place before hand.
Sekhri made a very relevant point when she addressed the issue of “forgotten magazines”. She mentioned how some owners launch a magazine and then forget about it; the magazine is created just for creation’s sake. This creates a trust deficit between the licensor and the licensee and therefore, the regular players encounter problems while seeking rights, she added.
Agreeing with Sekhri, Alexandre said that the publisher now needs to act maturely as initially the license used to be granted only for the main magazine, but now it is also for the supplements, digital, tablets, and so on.
Meanwhile, Roy maintained that time is evolving and nobody can predict the nature or future of magazines. So, if one has to ask for supplements today, tomorrow the publisher might even need licenses for the complements. Alexandre added here that the licensors in some cases feel guilty to give away too many licenses to too many products. She said that publishers switch to digital either to make money or market themselves. But from the reader’s point of view, it is the quick access and instant decision which marks the shift.
The industry experts have diverse views when asked about their wish list for the future. While Alexandre stated that communication within partners is very essential, she was also vocal and stood for publishers slating budgets for everything. Gotelli, on the other hand, mentioned that brand extension is her future focal point, while also stressing that new revenue streams should be leveraged. Roy emphasised on creating bigger market and inventories for the future.
Mala Sekhri, Sandra Gotelli, Indranil Roy, and Joanna Alexandre were expressing their views at the 7th Indian Magazine Congress on the agenda of “licensing”. The two-day conference was held in Mumbai on February 14 and 15, 2013.