The most widely quoted example of the success of a newcomer opening up a market is Divya Bhaskar’s entry in Gujarat, which changed the competitive dynamics there. The worst hit in the process was Sandesh, which dropped from the number two position to number three. Now, it’s strike-back time for the paper, as Sandesh gears itself for a relaunch slated for January 1, 2006. The new positioning is ‘Suprabhat Gujarat’.
Falgunbhai Patel, Editor and CMD of The Sandesh Ltd, is optimistic about scaling new heights after the relaunch. Speaking more on the objective behind the move, he said, “With this, there will be more acceptance from readers. Sandesh has a mission and through that, we shall strive for the betterment of Gujaratis and Gujarat.”
He further said, “After a history of 80 plus years, we felt the need to give a new look to Sandesh with some strong positioning. We have selected ‘Suprabhat Gujarat’, which is beyond just good morning. We shall provide material in our columns, which will inspire Gujaratis to do better in their respective fields and make Gujarat the number one state.”
Explaining the need for relaunching Sandesh, Patel said, “We needed to move with time to cater to the needs of the new generation.” He visualised a role for Sandesh in highlighting the upmarket profile of a Gujarati consumer, saying that while it was no secret anymore that Gujarat was identified as the most preferred destination for investment and Gujaratis were most sought after consumers who spent lavishly, there was not much awareness on how to communicate with them.
It may be recalled here that this was the very argument given by Divya Bhaskar at the time the paper launched a ‘paper-in-paper’ – Bhaskar City – on December 5, 2005. The intention there, too, was to address the changing and fast-developing Gujarati upmarket populace.
Sandesh is going all out to ensure that the paper is making a mark with the audience. The relaunch is being supported with a massive advertising campaign in Ahmedabad, Baroda, Surat and Rajkot. An event to mark and celebrate the launch has also been planned in these cities. The campaign talks about the relevance of ‘Suprabhat Gujarat’ and the role it hopes to play in the coming days.
The new look Sandesh comprises a new masthead, new layout, new style of pagination, new columns, new contributors and a focused editorial mix. The paper is also introducing 30 supplements in a month on different topics for the first time in Gujarati journalism. The relaunch happens after an eventful career graph spanning over eight decades in journalism. Sandesh is simultaneously published from Ahmedabad, Baroda, Surat, Rajkot and Bhavnagar, which enables it to cover the entire Gujarat state.
The process of expansion and modernisation started in 1982, when Sandesh introduced colour printing. Within the next eight years, Sandesh launched four new editions from Baroda, Surat, Rajkot and Bhavanagar.
After completing this phase, Sandesh went public in 1995 offering equity shares to public and thus, became perhaps the first media house to become a public limited company. The following years also witnessed rapid diversification into financial services, energy generation, FMCG, real estate and import of precious metals.