With the Government allowing 26 per cent FDI in general interest publications and 74 per cent FDI in special interest publications, the market was thrown open for the launch of ‘niche’ magazines. The Government’s latest move, allowing Indian editions of foreign news and current affairs magazines, will further open up the market. But can the Indian market sustain so many magazines? Are there so many readers?
Before dwelling on these questions, a look at the new titles that have hit Indian newsstands in the last one year – ‘Dare’ from CyberMedia, aimed at budding entrepreneurs, priced at Rs 30; men’s lifestyle magazine ‘FHM - For Him Magazine’ from Next Gen, priced at Rs 60; two city-specific magazines ‘Time Out Delhi’ and ‘Time Out Mumbai’ from Paprika Media, an Essar Group company, both priced at Rs 50; ‘Brides Now’ from Ogaan Publications, priced at Rs 50; ‘Vogue’ India from Condé Nast with Living Media as its distributor; monthly men’s lifestyle magazine ‘GQ’ India, also from Condé Nast. There are more waiting in the wings.
According to industry experts, the Indian magazine industry is the fastest growing in the world, worth $409 million in 2007, representing a y-o-y growth of 15 per cent. In comparison, the global magazine publishing industry grew 3 per cent to reach $103 billion in 2007. Advertising is the main contributor to the magazine industry with a current share of 74 per cent.
Increased exposure to global trends and changing Indian mindsets has created a market for specialised international titles. But the launch of so many titles has also resulted in tough competition amongst magazine publishers.
A lucrative market
Nikhil Rangnekar, Executive Director, India – West, Starcom Worldwide, observed, “In a way yes, the print industry is seeing the launch of niche magazines at a much faster pace than any other genre. I think the reason for this is that niche magazines are simpler to launch and source content, and being niche players, they are not really running after large numbers. A niche magazine in India typically has a circulation of 75,000 to 1 lakh, which is not difficult to achieve.”
He further said that a niche magazine targets audiences interested in a particular genre – be it technology, music, entertainment, automobiles, lifestyle, etc. And typically, the advertisers that they got were from categories related to that niche, for example, lifestyle magazines got advertisers from fashion, apparels, sunglasses, purses, perfumes, etc., which were perceived as lifestyle categories, Rangnekar said, adding, therefore, it was not difficult to get advertisers who were interested in those kind of relevant audiences.
“At Starcom, we practice a philosophy called ‘Passion Group Marketing’. It essentially means identifying the various passions among a given demographic target audience, forming groups of consumers with the same passion and then leveraging the groups through activities around the passion. For example, if one identifies techies as a relevant passion group for a brand, then activities on TV on relevant shows, sponsorship of columns in print, website activities, events around new launches, etc., apart from plain vanilla advertising in these vehicles can be planned to drive mileage for the brand,” Rangnekar explained.
He added, “Therefore, our belief has been that fragmentation and the popularity of niche media vehicles can actually benefit a brand if leveraged in the right manner. I think, with growing options in terms of interest, passions, hobbies, etc., we will see more niche magazines catering to those interest areas being launched in future, and they should also be able to find the right advertiser partners. Finally, there is an increasing understanding among marketers of innovators and brand advocates as critical audiences for brands, and the different ways and means of leveraging these audience segments. I believe niche magazines can play a big role in targeting these audiences.”
According to Kunal Jamuar, GM, Madison Media, “With increasing literacy and affluence, with our sheer size, our market is definitely one of the most lucrative markets in the world for any media vehicle. Given our increasing access and appetite for all kinds of products/ information, we definitely would be a market that players would want a piece of and hence, the spate of launches.”
Commenting on the threat to the niche publication market, he said, “Niche magazines are exactly that – niche. However, even a niche in a market like ours would be larger than mass in a lot of other countries. Coupled with the need for media owners to create their presence in India, I don’t see a situation where there is a major threat to publications in India. I would expect some cannibalisation, but the market would also grow for these niche publications.”
“These are early days yet, but I see a definite growth pattern emerging for the niche magazine market. Unfortunately, large scale readership surveys neither do justice to this segment nor are they agile enough to catch the trend in this sliver of audience. Hence, while some figures may be available for a handful of publications, I don’t see numbers driving the growth of this segment as much,” Jamuar added.
Speaking on advertisers being active for the niche magazine market, Jamuar said, “Definetely luxury and finance related products. Also, depending on the niche the publication operates in, specialist products of that category.”
Rajneesh Chaturvedi, National Director - India, MEC Access, felt, “There is a media fragmentation that is happening. The benefit of media fragmentation is that it helps advertisers or clients find the correct TG. Earlier, you had one or two options, but now you have customised magazines catering to particular TGs. Therefore, niche magazines help in better targeting, for example, an automobile client will prefer to advertise in automobile magazine, similarly lifestyle magazines will get lifestyle clients, and so on.”
He further said, “It has just started, and will typically take a few years to settling down. In an existing market, new entrants definitely strengthen the fact that media is increasingly becoming fragmented.”
Govt nod to Indian editions of foreign news and current affairs magazines