HT-e4m webinar: ‘Genuinity is the reason Print still scores’

On the panel were Anuja Mishra, Anil Viswanathan, Rana Barua, Vikram Sakhuja, Rajan Bhalla and Rajeev Beotra

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 3, 2020 9:00 AM
HT webinar

Leading brands and media agency representatives shared their valuable insights on “The Changing Face of News & Content Consumption for Millennials”, at the e4m webinar presented by Hindustan Times on Wednesday. The esteemed panel covered various facets of the topic - from print media losing readership to digital transformation. 

On the panel were Anuja Mishra, VP & Head of Marketing (Personal Care & Hygiene), Godrej Consumer Products Ltd; Anil Viswanathan, Senior Director, Marketing – Chocolates, Insights & Analytics, Mondelez India; Rana Barua, Group CEO, Havas Group India; Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO & OOH, Madison World; Rajan Bhalla, Group CMO, HT Media Ltd., and Rajeev Beotra, Executive Director-Revenue, HT Media Ltd. The session was moderated by Neeta Nair, Assistant Editor, IMPACT Magazine,

 Speaking about the myths around newspaper circulation amid the pandemic and how HT media and the industry have created awareness among the consumers, Rajan Bhalla shared, “I think lockdown can also be broken into phases just as unlocking. The first phase of lockdown around April-May, a lot of people just didn’t know what was happening. Now we are kind of getting used to living with the virus but it was not the case during that time. There was a lot of uncertainty. The newspaper distribution got affected and very clearly there were myths about newspapers being a carrier of virus, which it definitely isn’t. The industry tried their best to educate the consumers that this is not a surface that can transmit a virus and we have also taken a lot of steps like fumigation of plants and our supply chains.”

 According to Bhalla, HT has witnessed a strong pickup from Delhi among other metro cities. “Some consumers were okay with newspapers and some were not and for them digital was obviously the next medium to resort to because not having to read a newspaper in the morning is a big challenge for some of us. So, the PDFs started floating around, which was illegal and there were different sources that gave PDFs of all the various brands, including international ones. But in due course, a lot of them started switching to e-papers. I’m very happy to say that now in the heartland of the vernaculars we are back with almost 90% distribution. And we are also seeing a very strong pickup coming from the metros, of which Delhi is leading the pack.”

 Vikram Sakhuja highlighted how millennials are consuming news since the pandemic. “It’s pretty much clear that whether it is news or content, TV is actually the ruling medium, where most numbers come into consumption in terms of reach or even time spent. In terms of pure numbers, Print would come second followed by Digital. Data sources in Digital are unfortunately very murky and not precise. So if I looked at two data sources, one data source told me it was equal to Print, another told me it was 25% of Print. So even in the kind of reporting of readership online, I think there is little bit left to make it authentic. I would say no.1 is TV, Print at the moment is at no. 2, Digital at no. 3 is catching up and on the content side, OTT is also catching up.”

 According to Rana Barua the shift towards Digital is a habit that was emerging even pre-Covid. “There was a bit of a shift that was happening. I’m talking about a bit of a link with the millennials, their behaviours and how they were interacting with news. But there’s been a shift towards consumption and the way we are consuming news because news is dynamic.”

 Explaining further about how Print has still retained its position, Barua said, “The reason why Print still scores is the genuinity and the entire genuine news that you get versus the fake news and so many scams happening in the online media in the last four months, especially during the lockdown. If we take it as a habit consumption pattern, we are naturally going to see a shift in terms of online consumption. We need to be very clear that there is a difference between behaviour consumption and what we are reading.”

 Rajeev Beotra elaborated on the progress of regional newspapers as compared to English Language papers. “It has been a sequential improvement for Print and I would say that languages have possibly seen a better resilience overall compared to English. And in languages, I would say that the industry is already operating at almost 80% of last year's volumes. I’m suspecting that most mediums including TV and Digital are possibly operating in the same volumes as compared to last year. Print is also keeping pace in terms of having arrived at a certain level compared to last year in terms of volumes. So, we are pleased with what we have seen so far.” 

Speaking about the consumption of content, Anil Viswanathan said, “At a broad level, consumption has gone up across media as people are at home and consuming all kinds of media. Consumption has gone up predominantly in TV and Digital. In that context, for most brand marketers, we go where the consumers are and we are guided at a very broad level from a reach standpoint by the kind of numbers we are tracking and all the industry benchmarks that are coming through. So, I don’t think we are making significant changes in that context, per se, in terms of priority of media.” 

 Vishwanathan also explained the difference between content consumption and engagement with content in the context of the millennials. “Looking at engagement in the context of millennials, you find that there are some media where engagement is far more enabled and possible, and that's resulting in them spending more time than having a better quality of engagement, that’s also validated through the responses to our activities. So it’s kind of a hybrid situation where they might be consuming content from somewhere and coming somewhere else to engage with it. So the element of engagement is important. I think the two things that have dramatically changed is the ability for a brand or anybody to ‘speak to me first on a one-on-one basis’ and the ability for me to engage back or give my feedback. I think these two did not exist in the classical situation.”

 According to Anuja Mishra, the need of the brand is to interact with the consumers with empathy. “I think the first quarter when the pandemic struck, Print advertising definitely did go down and that was an uncertain period for marketers. That was also a peak season for many categories, the onset of summer, particularly for soaps and so on. TV is definitely where the larger chunk of money has always been, it has certainly reserved that chunk, but of course, Digital did benefit in that quarter. Specifically, the need of the brand is to talk to the consumer with a far higher empathy and connect to the needs of the consumers during Covid. For hygiene categories, there was a sudden rise in advertising, which was way higher than what we have seen in the last couple of years. It was really important then to not just look at the reach but giving as much authenticity and giving consumers the chance of interaction and hearing them out. In that context, I think Digital has clearly seen acceleration in the last few months.”

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