Even as regional print markets continue to drive growth for the Print domain, Shailesh Gupta, Director, Jagran Group opines that the current publication-agency relationship must evolve from its transactional nature to partnering with print to deliver brand results
Q] The next phase of growth in the Indian Print industry is coming from the regional press. Southern states reaped the benefits earlier and now the northern 7-8 states are reaping the benefits of growing markets. How do you see the trend in the coming months?
There are macro factors that are pushing the importance of regional markets, which in turn are attracting attention from marketers who in turn have found regional press geared up to deliver to audiences. This heightened marketing activity is further fuelling consumption growth. Therefore, over a period of time we see a virtuous circle being created. Amongst the macro factors are the obvious ones like increasing purchasing power, urbanization, nuclearization, literacy, rising aspirations, increasing brand consciousness, infrastructure growth, a young demography, and the rise of the local economies.
With the markets attracting greater attention, regional press too has geared itself to deliver to audiences. Significant investments have gone into enhancing quality of content. Another important aspect of the regional landscape is that dialects change every 25 km. So, content customization has played a big role in the growth of language media. We at Jagran alone produce over 200 sub-editions, each customized to the region it talks to. Significant investments have gone into improving efficiency in the delivery of newspapers. Printing facilities have been strategically set up to cater to diverse markets.
Moreover, the language press has engaged with its readers at a very large scale. The language papers today engage with audiences across strata – sometimes playing mentor to them, sometimes playing the activist on their behalf, sometimes being the thought leader, playing the role of a change agent, creating a platform to voice their opinion, and so on.
And all of this heightened marketing activity further fuels consumption growth. Therefore, the regional story for print continues to remain strong.
Q] Readership is a function of circulation and related to the population in a particular zone. Many newspapers push their circulation up but if they do not have the first recall, then readership does not reflect. What according to you is the importance of readership pull and recall along with circulation numbers?
Both these metrics have their own value. Readership gives us a lot more in-depth information on profiles, product linkage and cross media habits, while circulation gives us a sense of the depth of geographical coverage.
Q] The hike in newsprint prices has made a major dent in the financials of print publications. How has Jagran Group tackled it so far?
We’ve gone through newsprint price hike challenges in the past as well, and handled them pretty well. There are a few cost control measures that are undertaken, and it has also given us the opportunity to relook at optimizing our efficiencies. Overall, it’s a part of the business cycle, and our actions are guided by the situation at hand.
Q] What does the Print industry expect from advertisers and media agencies?
The expectation is that the industry must look at leveraging the power of Print better. The current relationship must evolve from its transactional nature to partnering with Print to deliver brand results.
Print’s unique ability to localize and customize along with mass reach is what makes it an important part of the media mix. Print has its innate core strength that continues to keep it relevant. There is impact, there is reach, there is this ability to customize and the ability to communicate detail. Print gives the ability to the reader to select - the reader can choose to give his attention to a piece of communication or reject it, unlike TV which intrudes and where the time is not in the viewer’s control. Print’s time of access - the morning is a crucial period for our cognitive senses. If the medium has the ability to set agenda for governments, then surely it can set the agenda for brands as well - all that we need is a more intelligent use of Print.
My view is that media titles that engage deeper with readers create a more compelling and powerful environment for advertising to work better. At a time when fake news conversations abound, it just reiterates the importance of a compelling journalistic environment. We must look at what happens beyond the opportunity to see – and that’s where a compelling environment and the degree of engagement makes a difference. So I think looking at the power of Print with a new lens is important.
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