November 16 and the compact daily, Mail Today, will be seen celebrating its first anniversary. Marking the runup to the big day, Mail Today recently rolled out an advertising campaign, projecting and profiling the quintessential reader of the compact.
afaqs! engaged Suresh Balakrishnan, chief operating officer, Mail Today, in conversation to find out the major learnings and achievements of the compact and its expansion plans in the near future.
Balakrishnan says, "We entered the market with our Delhi edition and it has taken us a while to firmly plant our foot in a market largely dominated by big newspapers such as TOI (The Times of India) and HT (Hindustan Times). Now that we have settled down and gained readers' and advertisers' confidence, we are exploring opportunities to get into new markets."
Suresh BalakrishnanAccording to Balakrishnan, the dynamics of the print medium have been changing pretty rapidly in the last few months. At the moment, a number of cities emerge as potential markets ready for a compact such as Mail Today. With the opportunities, competition multiplies too, what with DNA announcing its plans to get into Bengaluru and Mumbai Mirror setting its sight on some new cities.
Taking these changes into account, Mail Today is minutely assessing potential markets and finalising its strategy to step into new regions with full preparedness.
In Delhi, the compact claims to have a circulation of 130,000 copies, which is inclusive of 90,000 paid subscription copies and 20,000 copies that are paid, but discounted (distributed to hotels and educational institutes). The rest are complimentary copies.
Balakrishnan clarifies that Mail Today has never made any claims of taking on mightier newspapers. The USP of Mail Today has been its size and the fact that it caters to a new set of readers. Infrastructural developments and rapidly growing cities riding high on Metro-like connectivity will undoubtedly see the growth of the compact, which positioned itself as 'The Stimulating Newspaper'.
Without sharing the advertising turnover for the compact, Balakrishnan emphasises that the very nature of brands sharing space with editorial content on Mail Today speaks volumes about the premium image that the compact enjoys amongst its readers and advertisers.
For example, Jet Airways uses Mail Today as a platform to advertise only its international flights, rather than its domestic flights. Similarly, Nokia promotes its high-end handsets, such as the N90 series. There is little advertising, if any, from local advertisers.
Talking about image and positioning of the compact, Balakrishnan explains, "The launch campaign was meant to spread the word about the entry of a new brand in the market. Advertising was product led - differentiated, reflecting in statements such as 'Paper Tiger that Bites' and 'Newspaper Takes a Turn'. The recent campaign makes an attempt to capture the image and profile of the readers who are gravitating towards the compact and those who are already hooked on to it. It is consumer oriented with punch lines, such as 'I'm Not Fair But I'm Lovely' and so on."
He also believes that in the coming months, all major publications will review their plans of launching new editions or entering new markets, all thanks to the rising newsprint costs. Even the suggested increase in advertising rates by the Indian Newspaper Society will not be of much help because the move will not result in increasing the profit margins of newspapers. He finds this to be a big crisis, because newsprint accounts for 60 per cent of the costs of running a newspaper.