Ranjeet Kate, Director, Times Language Business, writes about the seven ways for national dailies to gather momentum in regional markets.
Look Global, Think Glocal, Act Local: The tried and tested maxim for any MNC launching a global offering has been Think Global, Act Local. For a thought product, however, one needs to think local as well. The front page lead must be the local crime, but the Moradabad businessman surely wants to know how the S&P downgrade impacts his brass exports earnings in dollars. When it comes to form, the front page is the packaging. Forget tinkering with appearance, being a stunning looker is the key differentiation for the newspaper brand! Design is a key component of newspaper product value and many language newspapers have gone in for re-design to stay in tune with younger readers. Also, the smart design of the brand could reflect what really touches and affects local people.
Gentleman Ban Gaya Raju: When ‘Acting Local’, embrace all the laughter, lore and logjams of the place. Newspapers have to connect at all levels with their readers - emotional, transactional and aspirational. Retain core brand values but do not shirk from rolling up your sleeves to get the streets cleaned, leading the dance in all festivals and celebrations. Of course, speaking up helps. Another aspect is hyper-localisation of each edition. The city- upcountry edition splits are a thing of the past. The city can itself do with 2-3 splits driven by hyper-local advertising while the outside of the city copies necessarily must cater to different district news through changed news pages in different splits.
Local Response: A big chunk of the investment in machines, men and paper should be recovered locally. Newspapers being a local medium, this is, of course, logical. However, it’s not just the money we are talking about, it’s also the connect - the response that local advertising gets from the paper - that makes the edition truly a darling of the masses. It’s the true barometer of success in the market. Put enough strategy and resource behind this even if the moneys may first appear small. It is only after this hurdle is crossed that one can say ‘finally arrived’.
Leveraging Aspiration: Thanks to the ‘other’ big media, difference in aspiration levels between cities and towns are rapidly shrinking and in many aspects, just not there! In 2009, non-metros accounted for 73 per cent of urban consumption expenditure. Digital camera ownership is equally split between metros and non-metros. Skoda dealerships in non-metros are thrice the number of the top eight metros.
Aspiration must be served King Size and the ‘Bollywood, Lifestyle and Gadgets’ package in the newspaper must be as loaded for the hinterland as for the metros. The advertising to support this special content is also there – 37 per cent of mobile phone brands that advertise in print have distribution in 1-2 states only – therefore, regional print is the preferred option.
Ascend, Ascend: Migration is driven by better education and job opportunities. And we see two kinds of migration happening - the primary set is from the ‘Bharat’ to the regional hubs – Dehradun, Meerut, Ludhiana, Mangalore, Ranchi or Aurangabad; and then the other set is to the metros – either directly or going via the regional hubs.
Education is one of the largest categories of advertising (TAM AdEx) especially for regional newspapers. The recent launch of job-oriented titles also underscores this trend. The newspaper must be the showcase of all opportunities that exist for the reader to succeed – be it national, regional or local.
Re-align Organisation: The national strategy of a brand needs clever and careful transliteration in the local markets. This task requires people who may be living in regional towns but can connect with national concepts. Training of the local ad sales team is therefore very critical. The team needs to educate regional/ local clients about brand building concepts.
Critical Mass: The success of regional print lies in the inexpensive mass reach provided across a state or socio-cultural region. Any print player must acquire enough size in a region or state, else national advertisers will happily give you a miss. Planners have a strong association of geographies and newspaper brands, and yes, also a limited memory to register the ever-growing number of titles! If one wants them to open their wallets, better have a clear, appealing and relevant story to tell.
(Ranjeet Kate, Director, Times Language Business.)