There is a spurt in advertisers from FMCG category in print media: Varghese Chandy

Varghese Chandy, VP-Marketing & Advertising Sales, Malayala Manorama, on current readership trends, hopes from the festive season and challenges faced by the print media

by Neethu Mohan
Published - Aug 20, 2019 8:29 AM Updated: Aug 20, 2019 12:57 PM

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Varghese Chandy

Malayalam daily Malayala Manorama bagged the 7th spot among the Top 20 dailies, according to the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2019 Q2 data. In the regional segment, Malayala Manorama topped the list with 9758000 Average Issue Readership. The daily has added more than 14.7 lakh readers since IRS 2017.

Last year they launched a campaign titled New Kerala Street featuring actor Dulquer Salman to promote new readership.

In conversation with exchange4media, Varghese Chandy, VP-Marketing & Advertising Sales, Malayala Manorama, talks about today’s market, hopes from the festival season and challenges faced by the print media. 

 What is your assessment of the current Kerala market? Who are the new advertisers coming in to Print?

The Kerala market as of now, as everywhere else in the country has been stagnant. This is applicable not just for the print media, but for every media. In addition to the de-monetization, GST, and macroeconomic issues, the Kerala market had the additional problem of the floods, last year.  In my opinion I don’t think anybody has moved away from print media, maybe they would have apportioned their spends to various other platforms.

On the contrary, I would say there is spurt of new advertisers from FMCG category to the print media. Speaking about the new category of advertisers, I would say, e-commerce is relatively new category of advertisers in Kerala print media. E-commerce won’t be new category in the rest of the country. Since logistics issues has been sorted for major players like Amazon, Flipkart etc, they are coming in a big way to the Kerala print media.

What is the target readership of MM? How do you define the typical MM reader?

Malayala Manorama is a large newspaper which reaches about 32 per cent of the Kerala population. Two out of three readers in Kerala read Malayala Manorama.  If a client wants to target customers in any particular segment, you will find Malayala Manorama reaching more than 60 per cent people in most of  those categories. We cater to every segment in the society.

As per IRS Q1 survey report Malayala Manorama has added more than 14.7 lakh readers since IRS 2017 and is among the among the Top 20 dailies on the basis of AIR (Average Issue Readership). What are your hopes on the Q2 report? After the successful IRS result, how does the MM daily plan to keep the numbers increasing?

 We are hoping that the same trend will continue.  We keep focussing on younger readership through various activities and even the design of the newspaper itself is modified to attract younger readers. 

As per reports, the digital media in the country is expected to overtake film entertainment in 2019 and print by 2021 to reach $5.1 billion in 2021. Do you think print media has to re-invent itself?

Every media must re-invent themselves. The print media has faced several challenges in different periods of time. The growth of Television, Cable TV were challenges to the print media and the challenges are still growing. The print media survived all these challenges, and these helped print media to re-invent themselves.

As far as Malayala Manorama as a group is concerned, we have the advantage of being present in all platforms of media. Therefore, we have the advantage of integrating our platforms to provide solutions to the advertisers. The different verticals of the media help to find  appropriate solutions to the problems of clients.

Festive season in the country is about to begin with Onam. What are your hopes from Onam 2019?

I would say we are putting all our hopes on Onam because Onam was washed out last year due to heavy floods. We believe that definitely there will be resurgence of the market during Onam and it is the best time for the revival of the market. We really hope that will happen.

Onam marks the festival season in the country, that is a time when every single client, every single advertiser focuses on Kerala. We believe that there is going to be revival of the market during Onam.

 In order to gain more readership, Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar has roped in Salman Khan as their brand ambassador. Does roping in a celebrity help in gaining readership?

Not sure whether a Bollywood star as your Brand Ambassador is going to increase your readership numbers. It can definitely add to the wow factor. For instance, we had featured Dulquer Salman in Malayala Manorama’s campaign. The tag line of the advertisement was ‘Puthiya Vayana, Puthiya Keralam’ (New Reading, New Kerala).

I don’t think you can link readership increase to a person. It will help in engaging with a younger group. But you have to do much more after that. You also need to act at grass root levels. An advertisement or a brand ambassador helps in grabbing eyeballs of the readers. But you got to work to ensure that the attention attained is converted to numbers.

What are the big challenges you face today?

Every category in the country is currently facing problems. The biggest challenge, according to me is the macroeconomic factors in the country and we are hoping that will be sorted. Once that is sorted then things will be smoother for all other platforms.

Now, for the print media per se, the migration to the online platforms is a challenge. We plan to overcome this challenge or increase the readership in the coming years by looking at ways and means to engage the readers. The biggest advantage of an online media is interactivity and engagement factor.  We have plans to inculcate readership habits in youngsters which we are rolling out. We plan lot of activities with schools and there are special sections in the newspaper for the students.

Those are all showing results and probably that is one of the reasons why you haven’t found any significant loss in circulation or readership of Malayala Manorama.

 

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