Standard (BS) launched it first Hindi business daily in New Delhi and Mumbai on February 16. Within 10 days, it came out with Hindi and Gujarati editions in six cities in India. The Hindi editions were launched in Lucknow, Chandigarh and Bhopal, and the Gujarati editions, in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Rajkot.
In March, two more editions of the Hindi daily will be launched - in Patna and in Kolkata. This will add up to seven Hindi editions and three Gujarati editions for BS.
The Financial Express initiated the foray into language business dailies when it launched its Gujarati edition in 1991. The other English business dailies were content to bide their while till last year. The Economic Times (ET) launched ET Gujarati early in 2007. Jagran Prakashan entered into a joint venture with TV18 and announced its plans to publish a Hindi business daily in December 2007. But first BS, and then three days later, ET launched its Hindi edition in New Delhi in February. The Jagran-TV18 JV is yet to launch its Hindi business daily.
Akila Urankar, president, Business Standard, says, "We have been planning the Hindi and Gujarati editions of BS since over a year now. It's just that we did not announce it officially in public. For the Hindi business edition, New Delhi and Mumbai form a crucial market. We could have concentrated only on these metros for the launch of the Hindi editions. But our research there indicated that these metros, however crucial, are cosmopolitan in nature and the Hindi heartland lies elsewhere, in other markets in the country. Therefore, we decided on the strategy to address these markets at the same time as the metros."
A senior media planner from the industry points out that the strategy is helpful for organisations that want to make a mark before stronger and better established players enter the market. For instance, ET in English has a better brand equity and readership than the English BS. Therefore, if ET plans to launch a Hindi edition, it would be better recognised in the market than a BS Hindi edition. Therefore, rather than wait for a market leader to launch Hindi editions in potential markets and block all possibility for lesser contemporaries, it is best for the latter to be present in those markets before the former comes in. This strategy facilitates a hassle free entry into markets for players that are not market leaders.
Once the entry is achieved, the success of a paper obviously depends on the quality of content it delivers, irrespective of whether it is the market leader or not. Therefore, if BS Hindi has richer content than ET Hindi, it may well beat the market leader in the Hindi business daily segment. The market has to wait and watch to see which vernacular business daily holds greater potential.
Officials at ET Hindi maintain that it's better to become king of one market first than to spread haphazardly to various parts of the country. ET is not planning to launch another Hindi edition for at least a few months. Officials from the Jagran-TV18 JV would not comment on when their Hindi business daily would be launched.
So far, BS Hindi is claiming a circulation of more than 100,000 copies, including the Lucknow, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Delhi and Mumbai markets.