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Reader’s Digest winning strategy: reconnects with its readers

28-June-2005
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Reader’s Digest winning strategy: reconnects with its readers

Reader’s Digest (RD), which has a 50-year heritage in India and is one of the best-read English magazines in the country, has strongly reconnected with its readers. The fruits of the quest, which began a few years ago, gave results when RD was recently adjudged the Best Marketer of the Year at Emvies 2005, sharing the award with Sony Entertainment Television (Indian Idol).

Stating the reasons on the win, Ajay Shukla, Publishing Director, RD, said, “The strategy to achieve our objective was very clear. The campaign platform which thus evolved was ‘Reconnect’, Reconnect with life, Reconnect with Readers Digest.”

The marketing challenge, which led the magazine to introspect the need for a change, was when it felt the need to focus on new segments. The strategy clearly to be with the time was to then drive circulation up among the young, target the 25-35 age groups (without alienating the existing 35 yrs + readers). Develop a campaign platform and channel mix consistent with TG, which included new acquisition routes such as website, e-mail, text messaging (SMS), inbound and outbound telemarketing.

“The result focus for us was grow circulation by 10 per cent, 60 per cent of the growth to come from new channels and ROI target at 175 per cent. And the solution thus was evolved to execute a consumer promotion and branding exercise to meet the positioning objectives. The key target audiences for the campaign were: Readers Digest magazine prospects (Push them to “Subscribe now!”), current subscribers (re-enforce the brand essence and relevance), lapsed or past subscribers (rekindle the relationship) and advertisers and media planners (secondary target audience). And we achieved phenomenal results through this campaign,” stated Shukla.

As a resultant the overall revenues grew by 18 per cent between Jan-Dec 2003 and Jan-Dec 2004, advertising revenues were up by 28 per cent YOY and contribution grew by 29 per cent between FY 03-04 and FY 04-05. “We have introduced new levels of innovations in the Indian Publication space like E-DM, personalised interactive sweepstake based promotion, First of its kind web initiative, Tested & established e-DM as a cost-effective alternative to conventional DM channels for customer acquisition and mobile messaging and telephone orders for subscription,” added Shukla.

A significant development for RD took place in Oct 2003, when Reader’s Digest in India changed hands from the Tatas to the India Today Group. Under the current arrangement the business P&L is controlled by India Today Group who is the licensee of RDA Inc, USA. RDA Inc provides editorial content and design, brand, knowledge pool, best practices and know-how for product line extensions. By December 2003, the magazine had reached a paid circulation of over 468,966 and a reader base as per NRS 2003 of 3.2 million, achieving a business mix of 87 per cent through subscriptions and 13 per cent through news-stands.

The formula of RD, which has stood the test of time, is now more cooler and is the one which will be here to stay and speak with the generations to come.

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