Day two of the Indian Magazine Congress, held in Mumbai on September 23, started off with a keynote address by Dr Torsten-Joern Klein, member of the executive board and President, G+J international. While he was upbeat about the magazine industry in India, he sounded a cautious note while speaking about international trends. The two-day Indian Magazine Congress was organised by the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) in association with Worldwide Media (WWM). exchange4media Group (exchange4media.com, Pitch and impact) and Business Standard were the media partners.
Speaking about the international markets, Joern Klein said, “Magazines are losing out on young readers, circulation is declining, share of advertising is going down, and will continue to go down.”
Moving on to the Indian market, Joern Klein sounded a cautious note when he said that the year 2009 could be a rough patch for the magazines business in India. However, he also noted that unlike European markets, India had a great middle class segment, which read a lot of magazines. But within the middle-class segments there were people who might not jump directly to a magazine, and rather prefer to surf the Net first or use the mobile device for information and then use the magazine as a second medium. “The challenge lies in getting these people to read the magazine first before other mediums,” he added.
His advice to magazine publishers was, “Build up trust with the readers, form journalism values that you stick to, and these values should be independent of itself, and not influenced by any external force. Such techniques may put you in the bad books of the politicians, but that is how you build trust amongst your readers.”
He further said that in a market situation where so many licenses were being given out, it became important to have unique brand images.
Moving on to revenues and profitability, Joern Klein said that newer techniques should be found to reduce costs, and at the same time increase ad rates. “Ad rates in India are far too less as compared to the West. You hardly see a magazine with a cover price of Rs 100 here, and if you compare this rate with the magazines in the US, it hardly means $2,” he noted.
Supping up his address, Joern Klein reiterated that the tough times had begun and India would witness the brunt of the economic slowdown in the US, which was followed by slow growth in European markets as well. He advised Indian media owners to look at competitors as partners in solving industry issues. “We are all sailing in the same boat; it’s a growing market. But there are a lot of problems that need to be addressed by the entire industry,” he added.