The Business of Business Dailies: A Marketer’s Perspective

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 2098 , Published on 13 June 2012
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A business daily has an important role in the life of an MBA graduate. Come placement time and the subscription of these dailies zooms ahead like a Ferrari on the racing track, on other days the poor pink colored paper lies in the corner of some shelf unopened, crisp and covered in dust. At least I can say that is the case with most of us, respect for those who respect the paper.

Choosing the business daily is a matter of prestige for some, simplicity and clarity for others and unbiased reporting for many. These swinging trends have been witnessed and tracked by many in the business and after being associated with a media company for the past few months I do understand it a lot better now.


An interesting aspect of this business is that, going alone by the revenues of the sales of the main product, all publishing houses would have sunken within a few years of operation. A business daily (or any other daily for that matter) sells for a lower price than its cost. For every copy of newspaper that is circulated, the company actually makes a loss. With the advent of online mediums and their gaining popularity, the pressure to lower the price is on the rise. So, what is the revenue model of the product?

The answer is simple and probably you have guessed it already. With almost 24 full sheets full of content available, which have the power to hold the attention of the premier customer for at least a few minutes, all that is required is placing another product in between the content. Well, is someone losing because of it? I believe, none. As long as the content’s quality is uncompromised and the user has the choice to ignore the added advertisement, the game sounds fair.

So, advertising is the name of the game for the newspaper industry, more so for the business papers as they have the elite clientage: people in the top bracket, the highest earners and the decision takers. This makes this category both exciting and challenging. Advertisements themselves are of various categories like display ads, tenders, notices, audited/unaudited financial statements (a compliance by SEBI which mandates all listed companies to share their quarterly results with shareholders by publishing results in national daily). But today, with advertisers having multiple mediums (television, print, online, radio, hoardings, events) and thousands of choices (number of channels, slots, types of newspapers), getting a fair share in a market for anyone is tricky.

Even though the space is large, yet the competition is very stiff. With growing pressure to reduce product prices and rising inflation, the competition is fierce than ever. The competition has led to reduction in yields (price charged per square centimeter of newspaper space) throughout the newspaper segment. On the brighter side, focus is now to increase the volumes by roping in newer clients and proposing larger advertisement spaces. However, this tradeoff between yield and volume needs to be kept balanced to ensure not to lose reader’s interest. Thus newer opportunities are being sought by marketers to get in revenue and inflate the top lines.

Such searches have lead to various innovative ideas like events, book launches, summits, expos and many such activities. The basic idea behind these activities is to bring in business houses to collaborate with the newspaper for mutual brand building and profits. Media acts as a facilitator to bring like minded people together under one roof to share ideas and discuss issues.

Such events have been very popular lately generating huge corporate interest and also proving to be money spinners. Mint luxury summit, Times Property expo, Leadership summits a few such popular examples for the case. Surveys and awards have also been received well as they help in engaging business groups and building relations. But no business comes easy, and credibility and innovation are the pillars for this model. Give one of these key elements a miss and the whole concept would fall apart.

Managing a newspaper brand today is like managing an amalgamation of various brands comprising of the main daily, the various supplements and the events. The challenge of the business is come in every day with an empty cart, make blocks out of imagination and build a castle out of nothing.


Figure 1 : The State of Mind of a Business Daily

With the increasing penetration of internet in the country, the online medium is also being explored and tried to be monetized. Though these are early days for the internet model in India, it is rampant in the west and has cannibalized the main print brand to a large extent.

Know Thy Product: Pick your Business Daily!

The business daily segment in the newspaper business is dominated by five major players. These players nearly take up around 100% of the market share across India. The total number of registered newspaper dailies in the country is 82222 which comprises of English, Hindi and vernacular language dailies. Being noticed, read and respected in this segment is a distinction that the following business dailies hold. Here is a synopsis of the premier brands in the Business daily segment.

Business Daily

Basic Positioning

Publication/ Editions

Reader

ship

(All India)

Supplements and Events

The Economic Times

Leading Business daily in India. Largely content is news oriented and opinion is derived from the masses point of view.

Times Group,

11 Editions

790,000

Brand Equity, Corporate Dossier, ET Travel, ZigWheels, ET Realty, ET Wealth, Investor's Guide

The Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence

Mint

Clarity in Business. Focus on opinions and not just news. Tie up with the Wall Street Journal, New York.

Hindustan Times Group,

9 Editions

258,000

Indulge, Lounge, Mint Money

Luxury Summit, Clarity for Thought Conclave

Business Standard

Known as the CEO’s newspaper. Highly valued for its editorial content and strong reporting ethics.

Business Standard Limited,

12 Editions

162,000

Investment - The Smart Investor

Management  -  The Strategist

New Economy - Ice World

Leisure, lifestyle, Enterprise and Motoring -  BS Weekend

Financial Express

FE is an expert in international business and financial news. Oldest financial newspaper in India, has a tie up with economist of London

Express Group,

11 Editions

117,000

Advertising: Brandwagon

PSU Power, FE@Campus, eFE, Investor, Commodity Watch Personal Finance and Corporate Review; FE Profile, FE Edge, FE Gadgets

Hindu Business Line

Very popular in South India, it boasts of a staff that consists of reporters and researchers and is the only newspaper having a research bureau.

Hindu Group,

14 Editions

32,000

Advertising : BrandLine

Leisure and Lifestyle : Life

Online Medium : eWORLD

Investor Guide : Smartbuy

The Future: Will newspaper Industry survive In India?

Print media in the west is declining at a rapid pace owing to the dominance of online medium as a channel. However, unlike the western countries, print media in India saw a growth of about 2%. Though not huge, this growth symbolizes stability in business, which is a good sign for future. This behavior in India can be attributed to the following reasons:

  • Increasing levels of literacy in India
  • Limited broadband access and lack of infrastructure facility
  • Though there has been a dip in the readers in age group of 25-35, the 40+ age group hold the category
  • In India, traditionally the reuse value of newspapers is high (for packing, serving food, recycling), so the average Indian does not mind paying a few cents for the newspaper

Thus, it looks like, what has been a problem for the print media for a long time in its fight for profitability will help it survive the online media invasion in India. Low price will prove to be the key tool against the internet and should help the survival of the print in the future. However, the marketer’s hat need to keep spinning out new ideas to keep the category interesting and engaging!

This article has been authored by Pragati Sangal from MDI Gurgaon.


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