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IRS 2009 R1: Maharashtra and Gujarat markets analysed

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IRS 2009 R1: Maharashtra and Gujarat markets analysed

In an attempt to go beyond the analysis of topline data,, in association with media analysis firm Stratagem Media, presents IRS 2009 R1 INSIGHT. Today’s Insight focuses on the Maharashtra and Gujarat markets. Reported by Cassandra Serpes. Data analysis by Stratagem Media.


As the largest market in the country, Maharashtra can certainly present challenges to marketers/ media practitioners. Save Mumbai, the rest of the state is predominantly Marathi speaking. This article examines the Marathi print sector and attempts to demolish a myth or two, providing answers to questions like “Is Urban Maharashtra saturated? Where is the growth coming from and who’s making the moves?” or “Which is the third largest read Marathi paper? Could it be Loksatta, or MT or Sakaal or some other?” or “Can the top 2 or 3 dailies provide adequate coverage in the state?”

On the other hand, the high profile Gujarat market witnessed some action in the print media sector for the few years after the launch of Divya Bhaskar. About two years ago, the TOI Group bought a stake in the Sandesh newspaper group – whose flagship was Sandesh, the third largest daily in the state. This part of our feature is about Gujarati dailies, and attempts to explore anything that’s different among the three papers.

Scope & Methodology

Today’s feature of ‘IRS 2009 R1 Insight’ compares the lead players in Maharashtra across demographics, as well as in Gujarat.

To put it in perspective, there are as many as 18 newspaper titles in Marathi that account for a readership (AIR) of 17.5 million, with the top 2 players accounting for almost 10 million readers. And hence, the cut-off for inclusion in this article has been fixed at 1 million readers, which results in the inclusion of six dailies.

In the case of the Gujarat market, as per IRS 2009 R1, there are as many as eight newspaper titles in Gujarati that account for a readership (AIR) of 10.5 million, with the top 2 players accounting for almost 7 million readers. And hence, the cut-off for inclusion in this article has been fixed at 3 million readers, which results in the inclusion of three dailies.

Sightings – Maharashtra Market:

In the Maharashtra market, we see that most of the publications have seen a growth in readership. Lokmat leads this market with an AIR of 6,789,000, which is a 2 per cent growth as compared to the last round. Daily Sakal has also seen a growth from an AIR of 3,858,000 in IRS 2008 R2 to 3,876,000 in this round. Punya Nagari has seen a 9 per cent growth in its AIR figures, which now stands at 2,423,000, while Pudhari has seen a 10 per cent growth in its AIR figures, which is now at 2,148,000. Loksatta, Maharashtra Times and Deshonatti have seen a 1 per cent, 3 per cent and 5 per cent drop in their AIR figures, respectively. Navakal has risen by 7 per cent with an AIR of 757,000.

Sightings - Gujarat market:

In the Gujarat market, Gujarat Samachar leads with an AIR of 4,762,000, which is a 0.8 per cent increase over last round’s figures. Divya Bhaskar is the second largest publication in the region with an AIR of 3,434,000. However, the publication has seen a 3.8 per cent decline in its figures. Sandesh stands with an AIR of 3,391,000, which is a 5 per cent decline, while Saurashtra Samachar has seen a 1.8 per cent growth in its AIR figures, which now stands at 280,000. Gujarat Mitra and Darpan have seen the maximum decline of 8.9 per cent in its AIR, which now stand at 216,000.

In Maharashtra, the publications have done fairly well. Speaking on Lokmat being the No. 1 publication in Maharashtra, Jwalant Swaroop, Director – Advertising & Business Development, said that it was the focus on the smaller regions along with intelligent content and understanding the needs of the people which had led Lokmat to its position.

Swaroop added, “Maharashtra is one of the largest states in the country. Earlier, when Maharashtra was spoken about, there was a huge focus on Mumbai. Other cities were not being focused as much, not even growing cities like Pune. We at Lokmat created a readership across segments, because these markets were important, and now, these markets have transformed. We have been performing and delivering sales in these regions.”

He further said, “We have focused a lot on these markets and have become a relevant media vehicle in the region. This is due to a number of factors like the good industrial climate and agricultural income, among others. Also, targeting the various sectors have brought in more customers, which is all because of the education in these regions.”

Sanjeev Kotnala, Associate VP and National Head – Communications, Dainik Bhaskar Group, said, “We are at this strong position because we have remained focused with the readers. We do not consider ourselves as No. 2. After all, we are the only true contemporary paper to have retained the ethos of the Gujarati culture, and yet are urban, be it in our approach or the layout, it has always been reader friendly and contemporary. The paper has a connect with the readers and the constant product development makes it the best paper.”

Key Insights:

The Maharashtra market:

Reach (AIR) – Key Demographics (Urban+Rural)

As per the analysis, the wild card entry at No. 3 is Punya Nagari (PN), with more than 24 lakh readers. But Lokmat at No. 1 is larger than the next two put together (that is, Sakal and PN).

Reach (AIR) – Key Demographics (Urban)

Interestingly, the equation changes in urban Maharashtra. While the top 3 remain the same, the order of the next three gets reversed. In the urban order, Maharashtra Times (MT) is at No. 4, followed by Loksatta and Pudhari. Also, the lead that PN enjoyed over MT in the state as a whole, now narrows down to just a whisker in urban Maharashtra.

Reach (AIR) – Key Demographics (Age Group)

In the 30+ age-group, (which would be relevant for some product categories), Pudhari overtakes Punya Nagari, while MT overtakes Loksatta.

Reach (AIR) – Key Demographics (Socio-economic Class)

Even glimpse of the urban reach graph versus the SEC reach graph is enough to raise eyebrows. Although Loksatta and MT feature marginally (and relatively) better than PN and Pudhari in the urban graph, their reach shoots up considerably in SEC A. Loksatta increases its originally wafer-thin margin over MT, in SEC A, and ranks No. 3. Sakal narrows its gap versus Lokmat in this segment.

Urban/ Rural Profile

PN and Pudhari show a high contribution of readers from rural Maharashtra. And the ratio is almost exactly reversed in case of Lokmat and Sakal, whereas MT and Loksatta have the lowest concentration of rural readership.

SEC Profile

These ‘rural-heavy’ papers naturally show a very low contribution (less than 5 per cent) of SEC A readers, whereas the converse is true for the Mumbai-based papers – MT and Loksatta.

MHI Profile

The data also shows that there is a remarkable difference in the contribution of the highest MHI category to these papers. Thirty-four per cent of Loksatta readers and 27 per cent of MT readers belong to the MHI of Rs 10K plus.

Change in Readership (Over IRS 2008 R2) – All

The rural-heavy papers seem to have grown by leaps and bounds, in the six months since the last round of survey (that is, over IRS 2008 R2), whilst the “most urban” papers seem to have declined.

Change in Readership (Over IRS 2008 R2) – Age Group & Socio Economic Class

Punya Nagari’s growth in the 20-39 segment is almost twice as much as its overall growth, and in this segment, Loksatta also seems to have grown by a stupendous margin. As against an overall growth of 10 per cent, Pudhari seems to have grown by 31 per cent in SEC A, over the last six months.

The Gujarat market:

Reach (AIR) Key Demographics – (Urban + Rural)

According to the IRS, Gujarat Samachar (GS) leads Divya Bhaskar (DB) by almost 40 per cent in terms of total readership, whereas Sandesh lags behind very marginally by just about 1 per cent.

Reach (AIR) Key Demographics – (Urban)

The ratios, however, change significantly in urban Gujarat. While the order remains the same, DB catches up a little bit and Sandesh falls behind considerably.

Reach (AIR) Key Demographics – (Socio Economic Class)

GS takes a greater lead over Sandesh in the SEC A (a key affluence indicator), and even over DB in SEC AB.

Urban/ Rural Profile

The urban profile of DB is superior to that of GS or Sandesh, but it does not translate to an advantage in terms of SEC (which is an urban parameter).

SEC and MHI Profile

Sandesh lags behind the other two in terms of contribution of SEC A readers as well as from the MHI Rs 10K plus segment.

Change in Readership (Over IRS 2008 R2)

Among the three dailies under consideration, GS is the only one that is seen to have grown, but that too very marginally (0.8 per cent) over the last round of the IRS 2008. The other two have lost readers by a few points. On the other hand, Divya Bhaskar shows a stupendous growth (of 26 per cent) in the SEC A segment.

(Led by Sundeep Nagpal, Stratagem Media Pvt Ltd is an independent media specialist company which provides media buying services to advertisers and ad sales support to leading media houses. For the latter, its range of services includes data analytics, sales/ behavioural training and price structuring.)


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