What goes around comes around too. While the 80s saw the launch of many magazines, rise of the magazines, and increase in circulation, 90s saw the trend being skewed towards newspapers. The new century sees the television rule, but editors predict that the next half of the decade will belong to magazines.
At the Indian Magazine Summit, editors of prominent magazines converged to discuss the transition and the ‘ups and downs’ the industry is facing today.
Setting the agenda for the seminar, Jacob Mathew, Deputy President INS and Executive Editor, Malayala Manorama, said, “The Indian magazines are in transition. General interest magazines will soon lose interest if they are not truly outstanding. Niche magazines are cliché and it’s the specialised magazines, which will succeed in today’s market.” Mathew felt that it had become essential for magazines to cater to specific interests of the reader.
Aroon Purie, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, India Today Group, raised the concerns being faced by the magazine industry. “Indian magazines are just too low priced compared to the international market and highly dependent on the revenue from advertising.”
He added that it was time there was a shift in the magazine industry from advertising-driven revenue to subscription-driven revenue, which was the business model working well abroad.
Purie stressed the need for the magazine industry to focus on quicker distribution methods at lower cost. “The magazine industry has huge potential to grow and the task truly is to identify the opportunities,” he added.
On the first session of the seminar on “editorial challenges and opportunities for magazines”, the editors debated whether content ruled over other operations in this industry.
The forum comprised Prabhu Chawla, Group Editorial Director, India Today Group; Ashok Mahadevan, Editor, Reader’s Digest; Paresh Nath, President, Association of Indian magazines and Editor and Publisher Delhi Press Group; and Sanjoy Narayan, Editor-Business Today. The panelists had a consensus on how magazines should keep their focus on the ‘written word’ and stay away from ‘dial-a-quote journalism’.
The second session on “the changing business model as seen by English Language Publishers” was less heated than the first as they all agreed on how brand building and event association could help the magazine leverage in connecting with the end consumer offline.
The panelists said that it was essential for the magazine industry to get compelling content and then reach out to the consumer. Unlike other brands, marketing a ‘mind brand’ was far more different, they pointed out.
The panelists for this session included Pradeep Gupta, CMD and Publisher, Cybermedia Group; Ashish Bagga, Chairman, Periodicals and Magazine Committee INS and Publishing and Executive Director, India Today Group; Anurag Batra, Editor-in-Chief and MD, exchange4media; and Maheshwar Peri, President and Publisher, Outlook Group.