exchange4media has covered how in less than two months’ time, no less than four major dailies newspapers had launched localised editions targeted at the National Capital Region (NCR). What has prompted this beeline? How sustainable is NCR as a market for newspapers and how long before it reaches saturation point? Questions are many, exchange4media seeks out the answers.
Recent years have seen as number of well-off people migrating to the NCR from Delhi as well as from other parts of India. Moreover, NCR has also been a preferred destination of rich NRIs. The region has also seen several large corporates setting up their headquarters. Thus, the NCR has emerged as a lucrative market for several industries, including newspapers.
Among the dailies that have increased focus on the NCR market are Hindustan Times, NavBharat Times, Rashtriya Sahara and Hindustan. Hindustan Times launched its Gurgaon edition in July 2010, while NavBharat Times came up with local edition with eight pages dedicated to local Gurgaon news on August 1, 2010. Rashtriya Sahara and Hindustan have launched eight-page local pull-out issues for readers in Noida. And from August 1 onwards, Faridabad and Ghaziabad are also being served by NavBharat Times’s local editions.
The economic slowdown of 2008-09 had forced several newspaper players to cut down on the number of pages dedicated to local news. Now, when new local pages are being added to the newspaper, it looks like re-launch of those editions.
Sharing his views with exchange4media, Rajiv Gopinath, COO, Madison Media Infinity, pointed out that NCR was witnessing huge growth in job opportunities, increased urban migration and large number of housing projects coming up. “All these have attracted huge investments in transport infrastructure in the form of Metro and bus corridors. The sheer size of literate and affluent population in the NCR and scope of future growth has wooed many newspapers to this market,” he noted.
Another interesting aspect that Gopinath shared was, “With such a large area and the development of good transport infrastructure, cumulative travel time of commuters bodes an excellent opportunity to tap into this idle time. Most newspaper players are coming in the tabloid space, creating niche afternoon and evening segments.”
Amita Karwal, Executive Vice President - North, Karishma Initiative, felt that going with local editions also gave the newspapers a better representation across all pockets of the NCR and added that they could offer a competitive advantage in terms of reach and coverage to clients in the education, retail and real estate sectors.
Newspapers are also seeking the attention of young readers in the NCR. Uday Mohan, Vice President, MPG, pointed out, “There is a huge upsurge in the number of young professionals staying and working in the NCR, and they are heavy consumers of news as a genre. There has always been a latent need to know more about what’s happening in their own locality. Till sometime back, this gap was being filled up by a lot of local players catering to specific pockets, which is now being filled up by the mainline newspapers,”
NCR – A bigger market than Jaipur & Nagpur
According to the IRS Q1 2010 results, the NCR market is bigger with deeper penetration than Jaipur and Nagpur. However, unlike Jaipur and Nagpur, the NCR has got equal penetration of Hindi and English readers in key categories.
In terms of electronic products, the purchase power in the NCR is higher than some popular markets. For example, microwave penetration in the NCR is 270,000 households, as compared to 65,000 and 116,000 households in Nagpur and Jaipur markets, respectively. In the automobile sector, NCR leads with 566,000 households in car or van penetration, much ahead of Nagpur and Jaipur markets, where this penetration is 142,000 and 280,000 households, respectively.
According to Karishma Initiative’s Karwal, “With the availability of such localised options, we will see a trend of marketers test marketing their products in key pockets like Gurgaon, which has a high level of affluence and purchasing power.”
She further said, “Newspapers are targeting the affluent population, which is willing to sample a second paper in their homes. These papers will attract advertising revenue from local real estate companies, schools and other educational institutes and the hospitality sector.”
The compact nature of the NCR has led to a boom in out of home entertainment opportunities such as multiplexes, shopping complexes, youth hangout places and cultural centers. This, in turn, has led to increase in spending on leisure and lifestyle related activities. “Cashing on this trend, there will also be an emergence of local entertainment and lifestyle clients, who will now find a platform to reach targeted consumers easily,” Karwal pointed out.
According to MPG’s Mohan, the targeted advertisers would be the local level retailers, multi brand outlets who would have a limited geographical catchment area and limited budgets and would not have otherwise been able to be present on the mainline dailies earlier.
Readership profile – Hindi or English?
Most newspapers are targeting dual-readership of Hindi and English in the NCR market. A large number of households tend to buy two newspapers in both the languages. Karwal pointed out, “In terms of absolute numbers, Hindi readership has a 65 per cent share of the newspaper market, but when we look at the growth, the pattern is completely skewed towards English newspapers. English papers have seen more than 45 per cent growth, while Hindi readership has been more or less stagnant. This is in keeping with the growth in number of affluent homes. The SEC A segment has a 20 per cent share of the total homes, which is way above the national average of 11 per cent.”
Gopinath of Madison Media Infinity noted that the reach of Hindi publications was 27.5 per cent, while English publications’ reach was 24.3 per cent. “This is a duopoly market for English publications, with Hindustan Times and The Times of India sharing the pie,” he added.
Karwal observed that in the last five years, readership of newspapers had grown by 13 per cent. While English newspapers had grown by 34 per cent, Hindi newspapers had shown less than 5 per cent growth.
In geographical terms, the NCR market size is 1,500 sq km, bigger than Mumbai and Greater Mumbai put together, which measure at 700 sq km. The population of NCR stands at 48.6 million, while NCT (Delhi) has a population of 18 million. It may be noted that Delhi’s share is only 37 per cent in the total NCR. With such a huge opportunity in the NCR market, more newspaper launches can be expected in the near future.