To understand the environment for Hindi Newspapers in the South, let us consider two examples. One is Rajasthan Patrika, which has an edition in Bangalore and very recently came up with a Chennai edition. The other is the Hindi Milap based in Hyderabad and one of the oldest publications in Hindi in that region.
Both these papers cater to the Hindi speaking population in the respective regions. The characteristics of this population are very appealing to a lot of advertisers. Most of the population leads a high spending lifestyle. Jewellers, Textile shops, Restaurants and other entertainment oriented ads find favour with this niche consumer. K Satyanarayana, Media Director, RK SwamyBBDO, says, “Hindi publications in the South are more like a ‘homeland paper’ for the Hindi speaking population settled here. It is also an option for the advertisers to reach out to a particular group of people who have disposable income.”
Girish Menon, GM South, Group M, says, “We have advised our clients to advertise in such Hindi publications. They do so during festive seasons and have found good response. The target consumers in this niche segment belong mostly to the affluent SEC A, B segments. Though they read English newspapers, and sometimes other language newspapers, if they have settled here for a long time, it still makes a better impact communicating to them in a language and environment they are comfortable with.”
Speaking on the success of the publication in Bangalore, Siddharth Kothari, Director, Marketing, Rajasthan Patrika says, “The launch of Chennai edition itself goes to prove the positive response from Bangalore.”
But why a Chennai edition when it’s a predominantly Tamil market compared to Bangalore or Hyderbad, which leans more towards Hindi? Replies, Kothari, “The current government in Tamilnadu is promoting Hindi as a national language. More schools are adopting Hindi as a language in their syllabus. Take the case of popularity of Hindi movies, doesn't this indicate that there is no bar of language bias? The readership profile is obviously the Hindi speaking populace but we are not limiting our selves to immigrant Marvaris as may be the perception. There is a tremendous market for Hindi newspapers at government and commercial establishments. In certain organizations like banks, subscription of Hindi Newspapers is mandatory. Demand is coming from quarters like Schools, Libraries, Defense establishments etc. The content of the newspaper will certainly be national with all valuable inputs from the edition's vicinity.”
Remarking on the Chennai edition, Menon adds, “The Bangalore and Hyderabad markets have more Hindi population compared to Chennai and this may get reflected in the pricing of the advertisements.”
The population of Hindi speaking readers in the South, according to Rajasthan Patrika, is around 10 lakhs. Rajasthan Patrika, with both its Bangalore and Chennai editions, expects to cover Karnataka,Tamilnadu, Kerala and Andrapradesh. Patrika will also cover Ooty, Kodaikanal, Trichi, Madurai, Dharmapuri, Erode, Coimbatore, Vijaywada and Rameshwaram.
Hindi Milap, which is now in its 57th year of publication, has only the Hyderabad edition and is circulated in Andhra Pradesh, certain parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra. The paper caters to northerners settled there. A spokesperson of Hindi Milap states that the purchasing capacity of its readers is very high and a single household finds the necessity to invest in five television sets and a number of luxury flats. Hence, their clients have much to gain by targeting this particular consumer. While sources reveal the annual turnover of Hindi Milap to be around Rs 3 crore, industry estimates suggest that Rajasthan Patrika would aim for a turnover of about 80-90 lakh for the Chennai edition.
What is the scope for such Hindi publications in the South? Replies Menon, “Client budgets may not allow round the year advertising in these publications but I definitely see room for one publication in this segment. For the publication to carve a space for itself, it needs to market itself aggressively as the ‘voice of the community’ that the advertisers wish to target.”
Rajasthan Patrika and Hindi Milap perhaps did the right thing at right time. Limited population and two same language newspapers being more of an exception than a rule, the new entrants would definitely find it more difficult to make a mark. For the moment, the first mover advantage will greatly aid the survival of these early movers but in light of modest revenues being generated, will there be any growth in the long run?