Taking stock of ‘new’ print players’ performance in Delhi

Taking stock of ‘new’ print players’ performance in Delhi

Author | Puneet Bedi Bahri | Thursday, Nov 20,2008 6:40 AM

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Taking stock of ‘new’ print players’ performance in Delhi

The last one year saw the launch of print titles like Mint, Mail Today and Metro Now in the Capital with much fanfare. A year down the line, have they been able to deliver their initial promise? Are they on track with their revenue returns and expansion plans? To what extent have they stood up to the established players in the competitive Delhi market? exchange4media finds out from industry experts.

Achieving numbers both in readership and advertisers

On whether the ‘new’ print players had impacted The Times of India in any way, Ravi Dhariwal, CEO - Publishing, BCCL, told exchange4media, “All these newspapers are a fraction of what The Times of India or Hindustan Times are. These new players have a different set of readership, but have in no way affected TOI in terms of readership or advertisers.”

Nilanjan Shome, Chief Marketing Officer, HT Media Ltd, said, “Mint has been able to create a niche for itself and has been able to position itself as a highly differentiated business vehicle by capturing a fair amount of top-end readers. While Mail Today and Metro Now are relatively smaller newspapers and are increasing in multi-usage homes, they still need to settle down. Whether Hindustan Times has been hit by these newcomers – not in any way as these papers belong to a different segment.”

Pavita Puri, Group Brand Head, The Express Group, maintained, “These papers are essentially local publications aimed at small, niche audiences and are unlikely to impact the readership of a national, multiple edition, mainstream paper like The Indian Express.”

Explaining why there has been a significant drop in the readership of Indian Express and how they plan to stay ahead with all these new entrants in the market, Puri said, “As far as readership surveys are concerned, we believe that there is a growing need to re-evaluate the same. The IRS is perhaps losing relevance with papers like us, who appeal to a more discerning reader, and thus, mere SEC classification is insufficient for any analysis. Besides, the nature of their questionnaire also leads to huge research avoidance and respondent fatigue. In this regard, we are closely reviewing the NRS proposal, where they hope to address many of the above concerns.”

Commenting on Mail Today achieving numbers in terms of readership, its CEO Suresh Balakrishnan said, “As part of its launch strategy, Mail Today reached existing English newspaper reading Sec-A households only. The current readership of Mail Today would largely come from existing readers, who have either topped up their read or moved to Mail Today. Given that our focus is only on Sec-A, we visualise very little new readership creation through us. Our readers are an evolved set.”

Sidhant Khosla, Director, Corporate Group, Bennett, Coleman and Co Ltd, and CEO, Metropolitan, said, “Metro Now has been planned for most readers as a paper that is taken in addition to their general english daily. The paper serves a differentiated need for a different take on the daily news and hence, has its own share of readership. So, readers have not ‘shifted’ as much as reallocated some of their newspaper reading time to Metro Now.”

Citing numbers, Sandeep Bhushan, COO, Mint, said, “IRS R2 data has shown that Mint has 1.4 lakh readers daily in Delhi and Mumbai (our Bangalore edition was launched after fieldwork started). We launched last year with the premise of bringing clarity to business – delivered through jargon-free language, editorial analysis, global outlook and design that helps today’s time starved reader access his areas of interest. Our 23 per cent readership share in such a short period (IRS fieldwork started merely four months after launch) makes us a very strong No. 2 player and validates our promise to our readers and advertisers.”

Bhushan further said, “The numbers are starker because in this supposedly ‘habit-driven’ category, 80 per cent of our readers do not pick up another business daily. This makes Mint a critical reach vehicle for the top-end business audience. Mint has had both new readers into the category, and readers who have shifted from other business papers. More important is what is common to them – first is their profile, Mint readers are ahead of the category across socio-economic parameters such as SEC or psychographic surrogates such as ‘Internet accessed yesterday’; second, is their quest for credible news and analysis that lets them take the right business and professional decisions.”

Entering the competitive Delhi market

Mail Today’s Balakrishnan told exchange4media, “With a focused launch strategy and an extremely differentiated product, it was not difficult for us to build readership numbers. Using ITG database in select areas of Delhi/ NCR, we sampled our product for four months to our target group. The same database was approached a month later for one year subscriptions. Parallel to which, we ran a door-to-door exercise in select areas to get subscribers outside our database. With this twin pronged approach, we managed to reach our subscription target within three months of launch. On the advertiser front, we already have 409 advertisers on board within a year. For any new media brand, and especially in Delhi, it is a great achievement.”

BCCL’s Khosla pointed out, “It was not easy. Primarily because the differentiated need had to be moved from latent to real need. Advertisers have found that the paper now delivers response to advertising and volumes are improving.”

Mint’s Bhushan maintained, “Our 100,000-plus readers in Delhi alone prove the fact that when there is a differentiated product that readers truly need, no market is too tough to enter. We strongly believed that we had what the consumers needed – credible and unbiased editorial, global exposure though our exclusive partnership, analysis rather than jargon, and design that stands out – which made the highest profile readers pick up Mint as their business daily of choice.”

He added, “The product was strongly supported by ATL communication at launch, sustained BTL through Mint’s events and partnerships, and high quality circulation support from the HT team – which gave us a strong presence at airports and other premium locations such as corporate parks.”

On the revenue front and expansions

On terms of revenue both Mail Today and Merto Now seem to be on target. Bhushan informed exchange4media, “Mint has 25 per cent odd volume share of the display advertising in the category. This is a result of a very clear advertiser proposition of reaching the top-end business audience, and a design and reproduction that creates impact for the advertiser. With our readership building aggressively, we are poised to grab an even larger share of the pie.”

On plans to launch Mail Today in Mumbai, Balakrishnan said, “The launch in Mumbai is on the cards, and currently we are in the process of finalising our plans.”

Khosla, on the other hand, said that there were no firm plans to expand Metro Now beyond the NCR.

On expansion plans, Express Group’s Puri said, “There is hardly any room for expansion as The Indian Express already offers the most comprehensive coverage of the country. Besides, with 23 editions available to our advertisers, it is unmatched by almost any other mainstream English daily.”

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