It’s been almost three years since Hindi business dailies from leading media houses hit the newsstands with much fanfare. However, most of them have not been able to go beyond the translated versions of their English editions. Industry experts believe that the Hindi business dailies have not been able to tap the Hindi markets where they are present in and advertisers, too, have failed to recognise the importance of this niche segment of the newspaper industry. When a larger part of the industry considers the Hindi belt as a huge market for newspapers, exchange4media finds out from industry players and media planners as to why this segment has failed to take off and whether the situation can be salvaged.
Business Standard launched its Hindi edition in February 2008 in the Delhi and Mumbai markets. Akila Urankar, President, Business Standard, admitted that the Hindi business dailies have not tapped the market fully yet, but added, “The Hindi business newspaper market has a huge potential to grow in certain pockets of the country. However, whether each one has tapped the market that they wanted to will differ with each player.”
Meanwhile, Business Bhaskar, the Hindi business paper from Dainik Bhaskar Group, which too was launched in 2008, claims that it has been able to attract readers. Yatish Rajawat, Editor-in-Chief, Business Bhaskar, maintained that there was a huge demand from readers for a Hindi business daily that was customised to their needs. He added, “National English business dailies have not been able to fulfill this need of Hindi readers. Firstly, because they don’t reach out to most of the markets that we operate in, and secondly, their products are not customised according to the needs of the markets.”
While Rajesh Jain, MD, Prachar Communication, too, agreed that this segment really could not take off well, he added, “Hindi business segment of newspapers could not reach more than the specified pockets. There are still a large number of small towns that are unexposed.”
When contacted, officials from Economic Times refused to give any statement in this regard.
Thumbs down to translated avatars
The biggest drawback perhaps is that some of Hindi dailies are mere translated versions of their English editions. Surbhi C Murthy, Deputy GM, Allied Media, felt that most of the Hindi business newspapers were a sub-set of the mainline English business newspapers. “We have maximum number of population of Hindi readers and real business lies there. But, unfortunately, Hindi readers don’t get the minuteness of journalism in Hindi business dailies, which eventually could not attract the readers,” she pointed out.
On a similar note, Rajawat of Business Bhaskar, said, “While we respect our competition, the other two Hindi business dailies are translated versions of their English editions and have not been able to customise their offerings according to cities or centers of trading.”
While, English business newspapers compete in their own domain, Hindi business newspapers have to compete with Hindi newspapers, which carry business news. “People in small towns hardly know about Hindi business dailies. The terms being used in Hindi business dailies for analysis are not easy to understand for small town readers,” noted Allied Media’s Murthy.
When asked whether advertisers had been able to use this domain effectively, Urankar of Business Standard replied, “Not at all. All advertisers mention that their next round of growth is going to come from the Ties II towns. The Hindi papers do well in some of these markets and business papers reach their targetted group. I don’t think the advertisers leverage the fact that they can reach this group at a small cost.” Contrary to this, Jain of Prachar Communication believed that because these business opportunity publishers had not served the advertisers as well as agencies properly, advertisers were not attracted to this domain.
Compared to this not too happy scenario for Hindi business dailies, quite a few new English business publications are set to hit the newsstands by the end of this year. According to industry sources, Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL) would soon launch a weekly business newspaper. Recently, Anant Media (publishers of Tehelka) entered into a partnership with Chandigarh-based Alchemist Group, which publishes Financial World.
Hindi business papers need to pull up their socks fast to tap the market. The readers are out there, what is needed is the ability to understand their needs cater to them in a better way and not be mere translations of news that cater to a totally different target group.