Bucking slowdown trends, RPG Publications’ ‘Open’ magazine is set to hit the stands today. The feature and current affairs weekly magazine has an uphill task to carve a niche for itself and survive in a market that is increasingly seeing a squeeze in advertising rupees. exchange4media tries to find out from some key media planners whether it is really a good time to launch a new magazine like ‘Open’.
‘Open’ is targeting metros with an initial print run of one lakh copies. RPG Publications is the newly-floated print media venture of the RPG Group, one of the largest business groups with presence in key sectors of the economy and a turnover of $3.25 billion.
‘Open’, which will be available on newsstands, has outsourced its distribution to IBH. The magazine will be also available on all key airlines, 5-star hotel rooms, hospitals, bookstores, Barista café shops, and golf clubs.
Good product, but a tough time to launch
Commenting on ‘Open’s launch, Anita Nayyar, CEO, MPG, India, told exchange4media, “It is not a great time to launch the magazine. The news and the current affairs space is already cluttered. The existing magazines are going through a tough time and are downsizing. The print industry is anyways bleeding because of the high news print cost. At the same time, I am sure they must have done some amount of research before launching.”
On similar lines, Chirantan Chandran, Partner - Client Leadership, Mindshare, Delhi, said, “Market wise, I don’t think it’s the best of times to launch as the advertisements are down and the advertiser is very calculative on his spends. Though I am sure they have done good research before stepping into the market. Also, launching just before the General Elections would give them a good kickstart.”
On the competition, Chandran said, “Till the time the magazine comes out in the market, it is difficult to comment on which genre it will fall in and compete with. We will be able to decide only once the magazine is out.”
Commenting on the product and whether it’s a good time to launch, Mona Jain, Head of Strategic Investments at India Media Exchange, said, “It is a fantastic magazine, but the timing is not really good for the launch. The market situation does not look very good as the product will not get the price it deserves. Also, there will be a lot of negotiations in every deal.”
She further said, “‘Open’ is a general interest magazine and will currently give competition to or may squeeze the advertising pie of magazines like Outlook, India Today, Businessworld, The Week, etc.”
Explaining the pros and cons of entering the market when it is in the grip of an economic slowdown, Umesh Kumar, Publisher, RPG Publications, said, “The disadvantages are obvious. The advantage is that entering at this point brings down our entry cost, besides it also gives us an opportunity to build our brand. Since we are a focused product, the wastage from an advertiser’s perspective is minimal as our product reaches the SCCA 1+ TG. Therefore, ‘Open’ should be a good choice for advertisers.”
He further said, “Also, while other brands are under pressure to bring down their print order and circulation at this point in time, it gives us a chance to build our numbers quickly.”
A new sales model
‘Open’ is the outcome of an extensive consume research work and insights mining. The magazine has adopted a new sales model and will ensure that the product gets sold only on basis of the rich product experience and not on the basis of the freebies on offer.
Nitin Garg, Head - Marketing, ‘Open’, said, “In the new sales model, ‘Open’ will send a personalised offer to these cherry-picked consumers, giving them an opportunity to experience the product free of cost for four issues. This exclusive offer is not for everyone. Once they accept it, ‘Open’ will deliver four weekly issues at their convenience and take their feedback after they have read a minimum three issues. Post these four weeks, they will have an option to continue receiving ‘Open’ from their newspaper vendor by paying the cover price on a monthly basis along with their newspaper bill. ‘Open’ will facilitate this transition.”
A differentiator in the clutter
“Thanks to infinite number of websites, more TV channels than we can possibly hope to watch, and more and thicker newspapers, every potential magazine reader knows so much already, and immediately, and often interactively. So, what they expect or want from a current affairs and features magazine today is profoundly different from what they were satisfied with in the past. That’s where we thought ‘Open’ would come in, as a next step in evolution,” explained Sandipan Deb, Editor of ‘Open’.
The magazine will have 60 pages of editorial content and 10-15 pages of advertisement initially. ‘Open’ is modeled on the lines of ‘Time’ and ‘New Yorker’.
Delhi-based advertising agency, ‘Shop’, which is headed by Freddy Birdy and Naved Akhtar, is the creative agency for ‘Open’. “Outdoor, cinema and buzz market on ground are the areas that we are looking at present. Moving forward, digital will be the main focus,” Garg said.