Day 2 of INMA, 4th Annual South Asia Conference began with a key note address by Outlook Group’s Maheshwer Peri on the topic ‘Niche Opportunities for Newspaper Publishers’. Held on November 9-10, 2010 in Delhi, the Conference theme this year is ‘Redefining the newspaper business’.
Peri began his presentation by talking about the 11 publications from the Outlook Group spread across various niches. The various publications of Outlook target travel, lifestyle, business, stock market, women, etc. However, moving on to the newspaper industry, he pointed out that such niches hadn’t been built upon. Newspapers in India haven’t been able to leverage on the supplements or niche publications that they come out with.
Talking about newspaper supplements and niche products, Peri said that the newspaper owners should ensure that the “same passion and ethos should flow into their niche product with which they bring out their main product”. A niche product should be as credible as the main product so that the advertiser will see it and take notice of it.
Magazines, he pointed out, thrived on niche and the essence is to “discover and target filtered audience. It is also important that publishers create journalists and journalistic expertise for each niche”. Citing the example of a publication from the Outlook Group stable, he said, “Career360, amongst other publications, has created a dedicated team on educational journalism. In order to create successful niches, one has to keep readers in mind, not the advertisers.”
According to Peri, “The true test of the niche would be if people buy newspaper for the niche.” Thereafter, he gave several examples of international niche properties of newspaper which has done exceptionally well. These magazines/ supplements have been able to allure top-end advertisers, who do not usually advertise in newspapers.
‘How to Spend’ a supplementary magazine of The Financial Times was a niche product and did so well that it won the Magazine of the Year Award in 2004, leaving top magazines like Forbes and Fortune behind. The ad-edit ratio for the magazine was 35:65 per cent. The WSJ magazine from the Wall Street Journal, too, is an example of an excellent niche property which is targeted at women. The move to include this magazine along with the regular newspaper saw a boost in readership numbers amongst women. Top end advertisers like Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Armani, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger, Hublot, Rolex, Rado, etc., could be seen advertising in these properties. All of these magazines have a separate editorial team for these niche products. Other examples of niche products from international newspapers are The Sunday Times magazine, NYT magazine, Washington Post magazine and Der Spiegel.
Peri also pointed out that most of these international niches followed a strict calendar, which their Indian counterparts had probably failed to do. “Special issues are ‘calenderised’ and planned well in advance,” by top publications. Peri expressed the hope that the Indian publishers will probably take a leaf out the book and produce quality niches. Areas around which a lot can still be done are food, health, jobs, religion, travel, etc.