As I was preparing for this article, I laid my hand on a study by McKinsey Global Institute. The study highlights the trickle-down effect of India’s consistent economic growth that has had a tremendous impact on the development of Tier II and Tier III cities of India.
It also suggests that by 2030, India will have 68 cities with more than one-million population and 91 million households will be middle class, up from 22 million today. These cities will account for almost 70 per cent of the total GDP with the major part coming from the Tier II and Tier III towns. These economic trends predict a tectonic shift in the way that marketers think of reaching out to consumers. There will be more focused attempts to reach out to these consumers in the interior parts of India. And this would amount to more dependence on regional media in the days to come. With rapid increase in literacy rates, regional newspapers will play a significant role in this. In the last three years – from 2008 to 2011 – the total readership of Marathi and Hindi newspapers has grown at a rate of 10 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively, while English readership has seen a decline of 4 per cent in total readership. This clearly proves the potential of the regional print market and its increasing importance in the marketer’s scheme of things.
Here are seven reasons why regional print will continue to grow in the coming days:
Deep penetration in local markets: Regional newspapers have the capacity to penetrate deep into their respective geographies, which is impossible for the English newspaper to tap. This allows marketers to carry their communication and products to the booming Tier II and Tier III towns, which they need to target, but cannot through English print media. This gives a huge leverage to the regional newspapers vis-à-vis their English counterparts.
Focussed region specific editorial: Armed with a deep understanding of the region, the regional newspapers’ editorials are much closer to the consumers than the English daily. Also the comfort of reading your preferred content in your own language can’t be substituted.
Higher readership per copy: Regional newspapers have a comparatively higher readership per copy. Thus, smaller increase in circulation leads to greater increase in readership. Since the English newspapers are more focused on metros, with more nuclear families, their RPC is far less compared to the regional dailies.
Addressing the needs of local ad market: As the Tier II and Tier III cities of India develop, the local advertisement markets will see a growth spurt. Regional print will be in the best position to cater to their needs. More and more players are coming up with split editions and city specific supplements to meet the local advertisement demands.
Trustworthiness of Print as a platform: Most print titles in these markets, operating for many decades, have been opinion-shapers. Therefore, they have developed a relationship of trust with their readers which other media envy.
Low base of Internet users and dearth of regional language content on digital platform: Though access points to digital content is increasing at a rapid pace, we still don’t have enough content in local languages to drive usage of the Internet. Therefore, regional print is the main source of their content needs today.
Politics is local: While television news channels can cover national and state news, it is the local print which captures the nuances of local politics and its impact on people’s daily lives. The local MLA, councillor, panchayat, magistrate are the local VIPs and their movements are reported by the local print alone.
(LS Krishnan, Chief Executive Officer, Sakal Group.)