One of the most frequently cited examples of print success is the Bhaskar Group. Such has been the group’s success in Jaipur and Gujarat that is studied by various market observers.
India’s premier management institute – IIM, Ahmedabad – has brought the Divya Bhaskar case under the microscope, pointing out reasons why the number one in the market – Gujarat Samachar – should still be a reason for worry, while Divya Bhaskar’s Executive Director, Bharat Kapadia, argues why Divya Bhaskar is already on the road to the top.
Presenting the case, IIM-A’s Dr Piyush Sinha mentioned the Bhaskar formula first. He began, “The Bhaskar formula was already seen in Jaipur, but Gujarat was a completely new terrain. Ahmedabad has two newspapers that had already carved a niche and were happy to play the game against each other, and many times, together.”
Sinha pointed out that where Bhaskar was faced with the question of where would growth come from in a duopolistic newspaper environment, it was this very nature of the market that provided the answer. In any duopolistic market, the consumer is taken for granted, consequently s/he gets bored with the content and seeks a newcomer.
“Newton’s Law actually makes sense here – there is loyalty, which plays the role of inertia, then there is customer value based offer, which serves as force, and finally competitor reaction – equal and similar,” observed Sinha.
He added that it was Bhaskar’s strategy of consumer research that ignited dissatisfaction, built a connect with the reader and finally was even used to show gratitude – all in all, building relationship with the reader that would establish the brand strongly in the market. He noted, “In two of Divya Bhaskar’s entries, the Gujarat newspaper market itself expanded by 50 per cent, as per the NRS.”
Even as this was a very positive outcome of Divya Bhaskar’s entry, there are limitations as well that need to be seen. “Touching a large customer base and providing a ‘wanted’ offer gave instant market share through sole as well as duplicate readers, but on the flip side, when one harnesses market potential very fast, saturation is reached, competitor’s copy new things quickly and many a times, readership is not achieved at the cost of the incumbents,” explained Sinha.
The bottomline, hence, is that the incumbents can bounce back easily and the advertiser is faced with another set of dilemmas. Making a specific reference to the Gujarat case, Sinha said that despite the Bhaskar success in the market, players like Gujarat Samachar and Sandesh were still top of mind recalls.
There was no major difference in the number and profiles and consequently, the advertiser portfolio of Gujarat Samachar remained better, Sinha said, adding “When asked about an ad, Gujarat Samachar gets a higher recall, even when the ad appeared in Divya Bhaskar alone!”
Sinha concluded by pointing that the only way for Divya Bhaskar to be able to overcome these perception realities was by behaving like the leader and not the challenger. “In short, change the rules of the game by building of non-transactional relationships,” he stressed.
Bharat Kapadia brought in the Divya Bhaskar point of view here, establishing that the paper was indeed well on its way of creating non-transactional relationships. Kapadia reminded that in the key markets of Ahmedabad, Baroda and Surat, Divya Bhaskar led by 6.1 lakh over Gujarat Samchar and was double that of Sandesh, as per NRS 2005.
He added, “Divya Bhaskar is aware of the social role it plays and that success will come only by further building and strengthening the connect with the reader, and we undertake various activities to ensure that we are achieving this.”
Citing recent examples, Kapadia pointed more about the 360-degree route that the publication had undertaken time and again. Divya Bhaskar has been in any case involved with various social activities like health camps, camps for the senior citizens and so on, but on its second anniversary, it had done a series of activities, which received “overwhelming” response from the audience.
“Whether it is contests for children, cookery shows inviting housewives in the audience or just seminars – the turnout has been multiple time over expectations and implies the reach that the paper has with the readers,” insisted Kapadia.
He was clear on one count – Divya Bhaskar had tried to be the people’s paper, which was why the group was confident to attain the number one position on the overall level. “Then, even I would like to believe Dr Sinha when he says that it is difficult to disposition the number one player,” he said tongue-in-cheek.