The Indian magazine business has managed to attract attention of various international corporations that look at India as a key market for the growth for their brands. Axel Springer has been one such company. Ralph Buchi, President, Axel Springer International sees India as a key market, where the Axel Springer journey has only just begun. In a conversation with exchange4media, he stated, “In the next 5-10 years, our revenue in India would be a large part of our international revenues.”
The Axel India Experience
Axel Springer International has three activities in India already that it executes with its partnership with the India Today Group. Giving a brief background, Buchi recalled, “Our joint venture with the India Today Group was the initial point of our car magazine Auto Bild India. That was a very good start to learn about the market, and it also allowed us to understand our partners better and if we see an opportunity together in the future. Needless to say the relation with Aroon Purie and his team has worked very well for us, and Auto Bild turned into well-established magazine here.”
On the basis of the success that the magazine was seeing, over a year ago, Axel Springer turned its attention to the digital space to ensure a future, together with India Today Group, in this country. “It was a natural move to be on the car market online, as we already had a successful car magazine to look at,” explained Buchi, and added, “In Europe, we had to work in developing our presence on the online classifieds field. This was not a journalistic activity of a media company but it was becoming core to business, as it was advertising. The classified advertising market was traditionally very dominant in newspapers, but today it has moved to the digital space. It was one of our core competencies, and our idea therefore was to analyse the market situation in India regarding classified online site, and see if there was something to do.”
Axel Springer and India Today Group then decided together to take majority stake in car site CarWale.com. “And we succeeded in convincing the founders, Mohit Dubey and his team, to stay in the company. That was crucial because we needed the genius of the founders. We are more than happy with this because it has turned into an ideal combination of a leading classified site and the content we can provide through Auto Bild. And seeing the growth in the sector, we are confident that CarWale.com would have become a force to reckon with in this sector,” remarked Buchi.
India to contribute more to Axel Springer’s revenues
Buchi reminded that at present, Axel Springer’s investment in India is still in the first stages. He stated, “It is still a relatively small investment, and hence not a huge contribution to our overall revenues at present. But it is absolutely within the business plan and we expect it to grow significantly within the horizon of the next 5-10 years. We did not invest in India to optimise our profits in the next two or three years. We invested here with a long term approach, because we believe in the country, we believe in its market growth and in the people here. And we get along very well with the culture and with our partners here.”
Buchi’s formula to grow in India would continue to be about bringing the experiences that Axel Springer has had in other markets, to India. The company wants to adapt it to the Indian market and culture with the help of its India partners.
“We have other plans to further grow in India. We perhaps will not bring in our brands but our know-how in certain segments and then see how best that can be manifested in India whether through collaborations or acquisitions. In the next 5-10 years, our revenue in India would be a large part of our international revenues. We are not at the end, but at the beginning of our journey here in India,” concluded Buchi.