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Indian Express to launch 1-buck 'Sunday Express'

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Indian Express to launch 1-buck 'Sunday Express'

Touting "a clear unfulfilled need for more reading material on Sunday" and using worn-out ''entry-pricing'' strategy, Indian Express is set to launch ''Sunday Express.'' The newspaper, pitched as a weekend news-magazine, is expected to hit stands on 17th February. While Sunday Express promises good content, will its marketing and packaging support this interesting initiative?

Before we look at the odds, a quick run down on the product. Planned as a 28 pager, the newspaper would have three basic sections; Sunday Express- 16 page main issue, Eye Express- 8 page magazine and Sunday Newsline- a 4 page pullout covering the ''local pulse.'' Taking on from where HT left, the size would be a narrower 33.2 cms wide. Readers can expect some international fare from Wall Street Journal, LA Times and Washington Post.

Now lets examine the odds. Surely, it is up against tough competition especially in Delhi and Mumbai. The Sunday Times of India (magazine Sunday Review is bundled along)- is read by over 13 lakh readers in Mumbai and 10.6 lakh in Delhi. Corresponding figure for Indian Express read only 2.2 lakhs and 68 thousand. In HT, they have another goliath to fight against. HT has 11 lakh readers in Delhi and is aggressive for readership share in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, where Indian Express is a leader. This would prevent Indian Express in reaching out to potential targets and sample the new fare. And conversions follow sampling. (All readership data is as per IRS 01R2).

This implies that marketing and promotions could play a critical role in success (or failure) of this initiative. Is Indian Express ready?

However, the potential for the product does exist. As brought out by the Indian Express presentation, people consume more media on Sundays- both TV and Press. International newspapers, thus, carry more content and advertising on Sundays. More advertising, closer to the purchase period, makes sense and is the basic tenet of Recency theory.

Therefore, if people consume more media, and thus are more open to more options, Sunday Express @ Rs.1, may get a trial. But only if they are able to reach out to readers and give them a compelling reason. What Indian Express has to perhaps remember is that purchase pattern of a newspaper is very different from a typical FMCG. A reader doesn''t decide every time he buys a newspaper. The decision may well have been made years ago and the newspaper hawker may still be acting on that. So informing readers (another difficult task since the key local medium- newspapers would not accept ads from a competitor!) and convincing hawkers to supply the newspaper could well be the clincher.

Not to say that newspapers cannot achieve high market share (or readership share) quickly. Dainik Bhaskar and a few others have proven that astute planning on the ground, innovative marketing and right product can get market acceptance.

Will Sunday Express, then, crack it? Well, we''ll keep you informed.


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