Regional will continue to score over English print in the South, say experts

While experts say that English has not yet reached a saturation point, advertisers have begun to recognise that their brand positioning is not compromised by reaching out to regional readers

e4m by Deepa Balasubramanian
Updated: Feb 17, 2014 9:04 AM
Regional will continue to score over English print in the South, say experts

As per GroupM’s recently released AdEx 2014 Report, ‘This Year Next Year’, print media is estimated to grow at 8.5 per cent, as against the 2013 estimate of 4.6 per cent, owing to growth in regional print publications across the country. The report projects AdEx growth at 11.6 per cent.

To gauge the AdEx scenario in print media in the South, exchange4media spoke to a cross-section of print players.

According to Narendra Kumar Alambara, COO, Sovereign Media Marketing (SMM), “There is no such thing as vernacular and national publications. To me, there is local (including Hindi) and English. Given that nine of the Top 10 dailies in the country are non-English publications, the contribution of vernacular will always be far greater.”

Sunil Rajshekhar, Director, Bennett Coleman & Company & CEO, Times VPL noted, “Local publications have traditionally performed well in all Southern states, except in Karnataka and to some extent in Tamil Nadu, where English publications have been comparatively vibrant. Gaining greater legitimacy with advertisers from FMCG, retail, automobile and telecom sectors, clients are increasingly looking at this segment.”

He further said, “This is in no way indicative of English print having reached a saturation point as much as it reflects the growing recognition amongst advertisers that non-English readers do have large disposable incomes and the willingness to spend. More importantly, advertisers have also begun to recognise that their brand positioning is not compromised by reaching out to vernacular readers. With this attitudinal shift, the future for print continues to be bright as vernacular and English publications will complement each other.”

Suresh Srinivasan, Vice President, The Hindu, pointed out that on account of a weak economy, high inflation and an uncertain political scenario, growth in 2013 has been slow, especially in the latter half, and this trend is likely to continue for the next six months. “Auto and real estate, which are the key sectors for print, are not doing well. Only after elections will clarity emerge. On account of IPL and elections, there is likely to be significant growth, although the former will largely be on TV and digital; the latter is not likely to make a big impact in the Southern states,” he added.

Srinivasan further said, “Vernacular publications are doing better than English and the trend will continue. Rising incomes, consumption in Tier II and III towns, and improvement in retail are aiding AdEx spends in vernacular dailies. The Hindu launched its Tamil daily in September 2013 and this will help in bringing cost effective options to advertisers focusing on Tamil Nadu. Print will see cautious optimism in 2014.”

Agreeing with this, SMM’s Alambara also said, “Smaller markets are showing greater aspirations and an increased appetite for brands, endearing them to advertisers and vernacular publications.”

He further said, “There are more than a few vernacular publications in most linguistically-defined markets. However, there are always new entrants into this space given its growth potential. TOI’s entry into the Bengali and Gujarati space is a prime example of this, as is The Hindu’s Tamil foray.”

Meanwhile, Pravin Menon, National Head, Ad Sales, Vikatan Group remarked, “Mainline print should do well, especially if offers and sales continue in the next six months.”

Impact of IRS
Experts believe that the industry faces far greater challenges that need to be tackled, including losing revenues to other media forms (television, digital, etc.), ability to rationalise the advertising rates, controlling production costs  and maintaining reader interest. However, they believe that the latest IRS results will not have a major impact on print for the next six months.

Menon said, “Regional political parties will spend on regional publications and they know where to put their money for reach. Clients and agencies who understand local markets will continue to spend on regional magazines/ newspapers, even if the current IRS numbers do not support the publication.”

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