The great Indian consumer is an ever-changing community and a reflection of the change comes vivid on all the facets of the media industry. Be it in attitude, products, services, media vehicles or drivers of these vehicles in form of content, lifestyle awareness is fast coming up as a necessary component in every sphere and recent launches indicate that the print segment is not spared at all.
Taking a closer look at the print scene, one would understand that the market never had a dearth of lifestyle publications. With the ilk of Society or India Today Travel Plus, already there are quite a few players in the market. Even though these magazines have made their place, it is not a very dominant one, especially not in media plans.
However, the launches of English magazines like Pink and Blue and Time Out or Hindi ones like Bhaskar Group’s Aha! Zindagi indicate that more players are ready to try out the lifestyle arena. And, speaking to media experts it is clearly understood that they have every reason to be interested in the lifestyle segment.
Putting things into perspective, Sandeep Goel, Business Director, Maxus, shares, “If you observe the scene, you will notice that everything that is lifestyle-oriented is in the middle of a boom. From HLL to BPL – every category has a niche, upmarket product. There are lifestyle stores, lifestyle cards and all these offerings are attracting audience.”
Adding to the rationale, PRP Nair, Vice President, Media Direction, RK Swamy/BBDO, expresses, “Lifestyle awareness itself has increased. People want to have a better lifestyle and be in touch with the trend. The coming of specialised products and services is a reaction to this change. Gone are the days when you could bring home one magazine and the family’s needs are satisfied. The tastes and preferences even within the family are changing.”
Experts believe that in comparison to the growth in lifestyle segment, lifestyle magazines are somewhat behind. “They are not just back but they are back with the content,” says Goel, “Over the years, television has shown more lifestyle than print. In more ways than one it has fuelled the growth to a level where players are ready to handle standalone products.”
Goel observes, “If we take the learning from the TV scenario, soaps are getting stagnated. The need is of a more focussed audience. When people look at NRS or IRS today, they are not just interested in numbers but in the people who are reading these magazines. This is the reason why we have specialist products.”
The general belief presently is that lifestyle magazines aim at the 15 to 35-year-old readers representing SEC AB. Most of the upmarket products are looking at this target and hence lifestyle magazines have been attracting the advertiser’s interest. “We keep speaking of segmentation in our plans and lifestyle is perhaps the most common word in media circles these days,” says Nair, “Lifestyle magazines are just a representative of this attitude.”
However, throwing a word of caution, he adds, “Nonetheless, while these magazines do provide an interesting platform, it is still too early to comment how important or permanent a place they claim in media plans.”
But what are their expectations given that most of the present players have some or other platform that too speaks of lifestyle content. What is the viability of having more products with similar content, promising the same targets?
“One needs to understand that the field itself is growing at a fast pace. Profit margins are high, the willingness to spend is high and in that sense this is the right time to be investing in this arena,” remarks Nair.
Responding to the argument, Goel adds, “Take any category you want – be it consumer durables, cars, jewellery, garments, cosmetics – all marketers are looking at the upmarket target. There are various mediums available now but you can’t get this TG with just any one of them. You need a combo. This itself gives a lot of scope. Nonetheless, it is often seen that when one idea looks like a good one, many others want to do it. You have to have the long term vision to survive here.”
Too many products but still cannot be considered really cluttered – the media is surely working overtime to throw up more options to both – advertisers and readers. Even as experts accept the new products, history bears witness that until these products give the advertisers the right numbers, they would simply continue to be the media planner’s decoration.