Rajan Bhalla, Head, Corporate Marketing & Magazines, HT Media Ltd, talks about the essence of Brand Brunch, its milestones and future plans
Q] How has the journey been for Brand Brunch since its launch in 2003?
Quite exciting. Brunch has established itself as a distinct, high-quality lifestyle magazine for young, upwardly mobile Indians. Today, Brunch is one of the strongest differentiators for brand HT with its share of readers on Sundays which consistently reflects in our reader surveys. Brunch weekly boasts of a readership of 31.53 lakh across the country (based on IRS Q1, 2012 data). This makes it a market leader in the lifestyle media space in India in terms of reach.
Q] What have been the key landmarks in this journey?
Brunch was launched in 2003 with a single pan-India edition; in 2004 we launched a separate edition for Mumbai. Some of the most renowned experts write on entertainment, technology, food, fashion and health in Brunch. Over the years, we have refreshed the brand several times to keep it current. With the launch of Brunch Q in 2010 as a newsstand magazine and our recent foray into events, we are extending the brand across multiple platforms.
Q] What defines Brand Brunch?
Our ability to deliver on our brand promise ‘The Damn Good Life’ each week.
Q] What is the strategy behind the new avatar? How has the response been post the makeover?
The recent makeover was done post a customer research undertaken in May, 2011. We did not want to drastically change the content as the current set of columnists are extremely popular with readers but raised the bar on design, presentation and added new features. The new masthead and layout give Brunch a contemporary edge, while some of the new content like our recent series on India through the decades are designed around meeting reader expectations on features.
Q] How are Brunch Q and Branch Dialogues contributing to build brand equity for Brunch?
The fifth issue of Brunch Q, which has been rebranded, is out on the stands. We have renamed the product and taken a leap in terms of content and design; presenting substantial, intelligent content. With Brand Q, it is a quest for good life. We did struggle initially in convincing readers that Brunch Quarterly was not just a repackaged version of the Brunch Weekly, but with four issues behind us and a strong promotional campaign we have succeeded in establishing the magazine as a distinct product. Brunch Dialogues, our maiden event property, was launched in March in Mumbai, we were simply overwhelmed with the response. Brunch Dialogues are conversations on Indian Cinema led by Brunch columnist and well-known journalist Vir Sanghvi, the event is linked to the brand philosophy of being ‘intellectually satiating’ as well as ‘fun’.
Q] How has the readership of Brunch evolved over the years?
The Brunch Weekly readership is tied to the readership of Hindustan Times and has been growing with the mother brand. Today, HT is the leading newspaper in Delhi/NCR and the second largest read daily in Mumbai, so Brunch has a very strong presence in these two largest markets of India .We are also very strong in Punjab, specifically Chandigarh and Ludhiana, and growing in Kolkata. With Brunch Q, we are entering new markets, attracting a wider set of readers including non-HT readers.
Q] What is the road ahead for Brunch?
I see Brunch as a brand straddling multiple platforms including TV as the fit is appropriate. On the Bollywood platform, we are launching a mega property and looking at the digital space.
Q] How does the HT magazine business give traction to the business of the group?
The HT magazine business is small but a strategically significant part of the overall Group. We have a rich legacy with our monthly children’s magazine Nandan and socio-literary magazine Kadambini’s loyal base of readers in the Hindi heartland since the 1960s. Our products have emerged as strong differentiators for the group, be it Brunch or Anokhi or now Brunch Q. HT Magazines was carved out as a separate business in 2010 and is one of the fastest growing divisions of HT Media; we have nearly doubled our turnover in two years of existence.