How Dainik Jagran cracked the readership code

Sanjay Gupta, CEO of Jagran Group, on the successful IRS results and their strategy going forward

e4m by Anjali Thakur
Updated: Jul 15, 2019 8:20 AM
Dainik Jagran

With a readership of over 7 crore, Dainik Jagran has cut a niche for itself in print media. In the quarter ended March 31, 2019, Jagran Prakashan Ltd reported a 12.50 per cent increase in consolidated profit after tax to Rs 70.61 crore, thanks to a steady growth in ad revenues. A key factor that led to ad sales and eventually a healthy balancesheet was a consistent readership growth. Having emerged as the clear leader in newspaper readership in Q1 IRS 2019, the Hindi daily seems to have cracked the readership code. But how? Perhaps, by taking competition in their stride.

So after the successful IRS result, how does the Hindi daily plan to keep the numbers increasing? Sanjay Gupta, CEO, Jagran Group, tells us that they want to keep their focus on doing good journalism that makes Dainik Jagran a compelling choice for the readers. “Our effort and endeavour has always been to continue to do better journalism,” he says.

Unperturbed by the digital wave that has impacted print business adversely, for Jagran, it is business as usual. “There’s no digital vs print battle. We believe that digital complements print. Additionally, digital news dissemination has just added another dimension to news consumption. More people are consuming more news, and spending more time on news. Digital news consumption is filling in the gaps during the daytime with updates and news as it happens. The mornings and evenings are heavily dominated by print and TV,” says Basant Rathore, Senior VP -Strategy, Brand & Business Development, Jagran Prakashan.

So, does the brand have any in-house preference? How do they strategies traffic and content split between digital and print to ensure both stream of readers stay on their platforms?

“For us, the only preference is to excel in both digital and print. This was well ratified at the Global Media Awards by INMA where Dainik Jagran won the first place trophy for Best Idea to Encourage Print Readership, and Jagran.com won the first place trophy for Best Idea to Encourage Digital Readership. We were probably the only media company to have achieved this feat at this global competition. Print and digital work closely– each of us leverage each other’s strengths and work towards creating a superlative experience for our audiences,” explains Rathore.

Dainik Jagran garnered a Total Readership (TR) of 73,673,000 in Q1 IRS 2019, compared to TR of 70,377,000 in IRS 2017. Dainik Jagran’s Average Issue Readership (AIR) stood at 20,258,000 in Q1 IRS 2019, a marginal increase from 20,241,000 in IRS 2017. The publication has more than 400 editions and sub-editions.

“The IRS has shown encouraging trends for newspapers over the last two rounds. Between 2014 and 2017, newspaper readership grew by about 11 crore. The readership numbers grew by another 1.8 crore between 2017 and 2019 Q1,” Rathore adds.

In order to gain more readerships, Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar has roped in Salman Khan as their brand ambassador. So, is Jagran also planning to do something similar and does roping a celebrity help in gaining readership?

“No, we don’t intend going the celebrity route. Our brand building efforts are based on the core fundamentals of our content philosophy and based on seven key social concerns that we deeply value. Our brand voice emanates from there,” Rathore states.

Localisation of news has been one of the key strengths of the group. Talking about it, Rathore says, “Every medium has its own strength, and there’s no face-off situation that one sees. Language press is unique, given the role it has played over a period of time. We invented the ‘local’. We customised our content for every 30-40 km and brought in local content. In doing so, while we democratised access to content, the local news consumers also became the local newsmakers. We created the local grassroot economy. It was now possible for an entrepreneur in a small town to advertise in the pages of the newspaper that had news of that particular town. Therefore, the fundamental strength of language press lies in its deep grassroot connects. This strength is unique and difficult to replicate by any media. It is on the back of this strength that language press has grown and will continue to do so. Print has the unique ability to localise and customise along with mass reach. This is what makes it an important part of the media mix. Over recent years, we have seen largely TV-led categories engage very strongly with print.”  

Meanwhile, media buyers believe that it’s the general bend of the industry towards regional that has given Jagran an edge over the others.

According to Ashish Bhasin, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network Greater South and Chairman & CEO of India, the general trend is that regional readership is growing much faster than English in India. “And within that, the stronger regional newspapers are actually getting even stronger. There's a bit of a consolidation happening. Unlike the rest of the world where print readership is falling, I feel that in India, at least for the next three to five years, it'll probably continue to increase,” says Bhasin.

He adds, “Jagran is a very strong publication, and has traditionally been strong in the belt that it operates in. Newspaper readership is a habit, so it becomes a long-term association for the reader. If it is a good product and has been there for many years, it becomes a habit. Jagran is a good product, and, therefore, it is not a surprise that it continues to be a large and growing publication in that context.”

Jyoti Bansal, CEO, PHD Media, feels that two things that really make Jagran stand tall are their neutrality and ethos of being true to their readers. “They engage in multiple ways with consumers to make a real difference to their lives, even if it is in small ways. Content that is relevant to the readers and evolves with emerging trends & needs has been instrumental to their continued success. As also leading change from the forefront in line with the nuances of the markets they operate,” Bansal says.

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