IMC 2009: stop talking about economic cycles, it is just a cycle: Chris Llewellyn

Recession or no-recession, magazines in India will continue to increase in numbers despite many experts having spelled doomsday for print as a medium in the past. This was the point that Chris Llewellyn, President and CEO, FIPP stressed on in his special address at the fifth edition of the Indian Magazine Congress (IMC).

e4m by Rishi Vora
Updated: Nov 6, 2009 7:40 AM
IMC 2009: stop talking about economic cycles, it is just a cycle: Chris Llewellyn

Recession or no-recession, magazines in India will continue to increase in numbers despite many experts having spelled doomsday for print as a medium in the past. This was the point that Chris Llewellyn, President and CEO, FIPP stressed on in his special address at the fifth edition of the Indian Magazine Congress (IMC).

The two-day IMC 2009 is being held in the Capital on November 5-6. Worldwide Media is the presenting sponsor, while Chitralekha and Cannon are the associate sponsors. exchange4media Group (exchange4media.com, impact and Pitch) is the media partner.

Quoting Publicis Group’s Maurice Levy, Llewellyn said, “Levy had said ‘Do not expect a recovery’. However, when compared to the rest of the world, Asia fared better. Yes, Asia slowed down, but didn’t experience slowdown. Based on the August 2009 census, the statistics indicate a recovery of media businesses around the world. Asia is expected to witness rapid growth next year. Even during this slowdown period, Asia saw as many as 32 new magazine launches, while in Europe, this number stood at 16.”

“So, stop talking about economic cycles, it is just a cycle,” he advised. On the magazines’ front, Llewellyn said that even in a bad economic climate, there would be many brands that would be launched, irrespective of the economic situation. He further affirmed that while it might take time for a pleasant economic environment to set in, it was certain that hey days for magazines would definitely arrive.

Referring to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report on global media and entertainment, Llewellyn noted that from a media consumption standpoint, consumers were spending more time online, which was happening at the expense of traditional media.

According to Llewellyn, there were four fundamental drivers of structural change:

1) Consumers’ media time is spent on expansion of media
2) Advertisers follow consumer attention
3) New online competitors are constantly emerging
4) Buyers (retailers and advertisers) are consolidating – reducing publishers’ power

“Advertising in the digital space is increasing. Moreover, while there were 16 million Internet users in 1995, today, a quarter of the world has Internet connections. However, in India Internet penetration is only 7 per cent vis-à-vis 22 per cent Internet penetration in China. Mobile penetration is also on the rise. Today, 85 countries are on 3G networks,” noted Llewellyn, while referring to the growing nature of digital and Internet media.

According to him, the challenge was to identify advertising models in digital media.

As has been the case in the past, a common aspect of the media business is chasing eyeballs since advertisers view that as a benchmark to invest. On that note, Llewellyn said that a fundamental change in the mindset was required for a better future for both advertisers and media owners. Predicting the growth for magazines this year, he stated that the revenues would be down by 4 per cent. On the future trends, Llewellyn said, “Bulk of media spends will be non-digital, but the momentum will be with digital. Revenues for consumer magazines in 2009 were not so encouraging, but 2010 will be worse. However, the forecast on the long run remains healthy.”

Llewellyn also presented his six beliefs that, according to him, impacted the business of magazines:

• Magazines will endear, they need to continue investing;
• Consumers and advertisers value different propositions – excite and entertain via your content and develop cross platform propositions;
• Goods brands navigate through clutter, and therefore build engagement around brands;
• Good brands build great amount of trust;
• Time and space are increasingly contracting;
• Consumers consume, create and congregate, so engage them in creative activities.

Wrapping up his special address, Llewellyn said, “Revenues will come in new ways. Performance-based advertising will come. Prepare for innovation like we have never seen before.”

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