to the mounting pressure of rising newsprint costs on the print industry, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) recommended that its member publications hike their advertising rates by 30 per cent. Therefore, starting November 1, the Outlook Group has decided to hike its advertising rates for select magazines by 7-10 per cent. It's close rival India Today also increased its ad rates by 9 per cent last week.
Magazines are bearing the brunt because they use imported, glazed or coated paper. Though the INS has recommended a 30 per cent hike, the Outlook Group has decided to go in for a marginal hike because it realizes that such a steep increase midway through the financial year would be tough on their clients, says Selvaraj.
The full page advertisement rate of its flagship brand Outlook has been revised from Rs 4,50,000 to Rs 4,90,000; that of Outlook Hindi from Rs 1,25,000 to Rs 1,35,000; Outlook Business, from Rs 2,65,000 to Rs 2,90,000; Outlook Money, from Rs 2,10,000 to Rs 2,30,000; and Outlook Traveller, from Rs 1,50,000 to Rs 1,65,000. However, there are no increases in the ad rates of Outlook Profit, Outlook Lounge, Marie Claire, People and Geo.
Justifying the decision, Selvaraj says, "This increase will, of course, put a little pressure on the advertisers. But unlike many other prominent companies, we don't hike the rates whenever we want. In fact, this is the first time in the history of our group that we are hiking ad rates. We request the fraternity of advertising agencies and clients to understand our predicament and support us."
The ad rate hike will be accompanied by increases in the cover price of many magazines. From the October 13 issue, the cover price of Outlook will go up from Rs 20 to Rs 25. Outlook Hindi, which was revamped in September and made a monthly magazine, will cost Rs 15, instead of the current Rs 10, from December onwards. And from the November issue, Outlook Business will be sold for Rs 20, and not Rs 15.
Selvaraj explains, "Outlook Traveller and Marie Claire are already at a slightly higher price, so there was no point increasing their rates. Outlook Lounge is distributed for free at airports; therefore, revising the price is not applicable. And as far as People and Geo are concerned, they are new and need some time before we think about taking any such step."
The group is confident that the price hikes will not have a major impact. "More than 50 per cent of our base is through paid-up subscriptions. In the past, we have seen that our TG is not price sensitive on such a marginal increase and we do not see any impact - barring a fractional one - on newsstand sales," he asserts.
For the record, the Outlook Group, a leading Indian media house, has launched various publications in addition to its flagship brand, Outlook, the weekly news magazine. These include Outlook Money, Outlook Business, Outlook Traveller, Outlook Profit and Outlook Lounge. The group has also entered into international alliances and now publishes licensed editions of Marie Claire, Geo and People in India, besides handling the marketing, distribution and advertising of Newsweek and the distribution of Businessweek.