As National Readership Studies Council (NRSC) readies to present its latest readership update - NRS 02 today, competing research body Media Research Users Council (MRUC) claims victory by bring out 'the first national study in the country based on the latest Census (2001)' - IRS 02 soon.
Chairperson, technical committee, Roda Mehta believes that using Census 01 baseline data for readership and product penetration estimates will significantly change the current mediascape. And she backs her belief with a paper, shared with exchange4media.
"In a sampling exercise, Projections are only as good as the accuracy of universe base. If the universe base estimation is out dated, the readership projections will be erroneous," cautions Mehta, pointing out the significant changes in population that the latest Census 2001 has recorded. Since readership surveys like IRS are projected on the Census population baseline, changes in the baseline data can significantly alter readership and product consumption estimates.
The IRS paper, amongst other things, highlights two key shifts recorded by Census 01 over 91 data. One is the changes in total population itself, which has grown by 22.5% to 102.7 crores, as per Census 01. Factoring this exact growth is significant, given that 1% of population is equal to over 1 crore population. Says Mehta,"The other study is based on an estimation of population growth rates in this decade (2001-1991) as recorded in last decade (1991-1981). This obviously is gross estimation. Now that we have the latest Census data, it is flawed to use such estimates."
The other point made in the paper is the impact of growing urbanization on town classification. According to Census 01, large towns have become larger by aggregating mass from smaller towns. So the number of towns with more than 10 lakh population has moved up from 23 cities to 35 cities. More specifically, amongst the metros, Mumbai population has grown by over 30% in last decade while Delhi has grown by a whopping 52%. Chennai and Calcutta have increase less dramatically by 18% each. Using these new estimates will obviously impact the product and media consumption data. "I see Delhi and Mumbai centric media vehicles like Hindustan Times and Times of India gain from this shift in population," says Mehta.
MRUC and Mehta believe that 'Town creation and de classification' would also impact the media consumption trends. As per Census 01, 942 new towns emerged in last decade while 324 towns were declassified (urban status changed to rural). And as many as 418 new towns, were formed in Tamil Nadu alone. Chuckles Mehta, "In absence of this real data of new status of towns and villages, one may actually be sampling a town (earlier classified as village in Census 91) for rural estimates!"
While the detailed IRS report is not out, it would be closely analyzed and perhaps compared with the other study - NRS. NRS would however reach market earlier. NRSC and its research agencies are presenting the highlights of the NRS 02 in Mumbai today. According to MRUC, IRS's media consumption data is expected to be out in next 2 months. Some of the delay can be attributed to integration of Census 01 data into the new software and projections. "The research agency NFO should be complimented for an outstanding job. Given that they were appointed as late as last August, they have not just completed the field work but gathered the stratified Census data from respective centers," say a satisfied Mehta.