Growth is a single-point agenda for the Maharashtra-based Lokmat Group of Newspapers. Which is why after 10 editions of flagship brand Lokmat, it has embarked on an eleventh one in the district of Nanded in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra.
The edition will be launched by May-June this year, says Jwalant Swaroop, director, advertising, Lokmat Group of Newspapers. The targeted circulation is one lakh copies.
Currently, the Aurangabad edition feeds Nanded, which is located by the Godavari river in the eastern part of Maharashtra near the border of Andhra Pradesh. Trading is an important activity in the region, and the city serves as a major trading hub for the surrounding areas.
The Nanded edition will consist of about 20 pages, that is 16 pages of the main issue and four pages of the supplement that will run everyday. The cover price is likely to be competitive, though Swaroop says that a figure is yet to be arrived at for the edition.
The Lokmat group has a differential pricing mechanism for its editions with the cover price varying from Re 1 to Rs 3.50. The group is known to be aggressive in terms of its pricing and does not hesitate to kick off a price war if the situation demands.
2004 was spent in the consolidation and relaunch of editions in Kolhapur, Akola (both for brand Lokmat) and Nagpur (for Hindi daily Lokmat Samachar). Swaroop claims that the print run of the Kolhapur edition of Lokmat is 1.65-lakh copies, while Lokmat Samachar stands at 2,01,876 copies (for Nagpur, Akola and Aurangabad) and English daily Lokmat Times has a print run of 27,102 copies in Nagpur and Aurangabad.
The total circulation of flagship brand Lokmat, according to the ABC, is 8,84,411 copies (Jan-June 2004). Readership, according to IRS 2004 (round 2), is 72.84-lakh. Rival Sakal, on the other hand, has a circulation of 7,83,093 copies, while readership is 49.34-lakh. The papers, for the record, stand at the no.1 and 2 positions in the state.
Despite this, Swaroop says that the group has had to contend with some "misleading claims" by Loksatta (from the Indian Express group) in an ad released by them in the Outlook dated January 24, 2005.
The ad, he says, claims that Loksatta is the "undisputed leader in Maharashtra" based on figures of the NRS 2003. "The papers used to draw a comparison are Sakal, Saamna (from Bal Thackeray's Shiv Sena) and Maharashtra Times. We have not been included at all. We've lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and will take it up seriously."
Meanwhile, sectors that are active in Lokmat in terms of advertising are consumer electronics, office automation products, automobiles, travel, educational institutes etc. Swaroop says that revenues have jumped by about 25 per cent with more editions. More advertisers are likely to come on board now. "We have a few more cities on our map. So just wait and watch," Swaroop concludes.
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