The entry of two major international magazines – ‘Lonely Planet’ and ‘Condé Nast Traveller’ – in India has shaken things up in the travel magazine market. While Lonely Planet hit newsstands on January 29, 2010, Condé Nast Traveller’s India plans were announced recently. And already the competitive aggression is showing its claws.
Commenting on ‘Lonely Planet’ India edition, Tarun Rai, CEO, Worldwide Media, which has launched the magazine in the country, said, “We seem to have shaken up the travel magazine market with the launch of ‘Lonely Planet’ magazine. Some publishing houses have hurriedly announced plans to launch their own travel magazines. They are welcome, they cater to specific niches and none of them has the broad appeal and credibility that ‘Lonely Planet’ magazine has with the affluent, upmarket reader. ‘Condé Nast Traveller’, for example, caters to only a small niche of retired people.”
Rai further noted, “We expect around 70 per cent of the total revenue of the magazine from ad revenues and the rest from subscription and newsstand sales. ‘Lonely Planet’ has also a very strong global digital site. The Indian magazine content will find its way there too. We are also exploring providing our content on mobile phones.”
A few days back, in a conversation with exchange4media, Nicholas Coleridge, Vice President, Condé Nast International, had said that competition was not so much of a worry for them in India. “I love competition. ‘Condé Nast Traveller’ would be helped by the fact that ‘Lonely Planet’ travel magazine is coming out from the BBC. ‘Lonely Planet’ is a backpacker’s magazine, so it is not the same readership as ‘Condé Nast Traveller’. But all those 18-20 year-old backpackers who swear by ‘Lonely Planet’, once they don’t need to walk around permanently with the backpack and are able to afford hotel rooms with locks, then they can start reading Traveller,” Coleridge had said.
And if this word joust is anything to go by, we have surely not heard the last of it.
The game will become more interesting
While the two international magazines find their way about in the Indian market, exchange4media spoke to some media planners to have their take on what the entry of these two international biggies mean for the market here.
Surbhi C Murthy, Deputy General Manager, Allied Media India, explained, “It seems that in-bound travel will increase in India, but I don’t see much rise in out-bound travel. So, market for magazines is available. Because of recession ‘Condé Nast Traveller’ had a bad year. Internationally, ‘Lonely Planet’ is a well established magazine, but in the Indian market we will have to wait and see how it works. These are niche magazines that attract only niche audience. One point of worry for these magazines is that many lifestyle magazines also carry the same content like travel magazines, and those are working well. ‘Lonely Planet’ and ‘Condé Nast Traveller’ both are different in their own ways. But I am sure that game will become more interesting once ‘Condé Nast Traveller’ launches in the Indian market.”
When asked whether there was scope for more travel magazines in India, Mohit Joshi, Executive Director - North, MPG, replied, “Yes, there is scope for new travel magazines in India. Take the instance of the television scenario, already more than 450 channels are available and yet new channels keep getting added in each genre, and all manage to do business. Same is going to be the case with specialist magazines, each will find their niche and their specific readers, though the numbers are always going to be low (numbers anyways are not the evaluation parameters there).”
International presence of magazines does help the brand establish in new markets. However, according to Joshi, “It depends from case to case. There is no clear mantra for the success of international magazines in new markets. Finally, the product has to appeal to the reader. An international brand name helps give it a headstart, but finally it is the content and the quality that will sustain it.”
It may be noted that there are already quite a few magazines for travelers in the Indian market – Budget Travel, Discover India Magazine, Gourmet Travel, Outlook Traveler, Travel Plus, Wanderlust, etc. Clearly, the introduction of international travel magazines in India this segment will increase competition for the already existing Indian publications.