i next to venture into merchandising

By Dhaleta Surender Kumar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | February 03, 2009
The bilingual compact, i next, is all set to launch a youth-oriented merchandising division

i next, the bilingual tabloid from Jagran Publishing Group, is planning to roll out a merchandising division by the first week of March.

According to Alok Sanwal, project head and editor, i next, the division will retail apparel, stationery and souvenirs.

The target group for this division, which hasn't been branded yet, is consumers in the age group of 18-25 years, who are either undergraduates or are in the first year of their professional life.

The & #BANNER1 & # apparel sold by the division will carry the i next logo and some interesting catch lines based on the compact's promotional campaigns.

The merchandise will be sold through three routes - online, Jagran distribution centres, and shop-in-shop. Besides, Sanwal says, "We'll also experiment with a fourth route, by customising products for various college events and cultural functions."

Consumers across the country can buy merchandise online through credit cards. Jagran distribution centres and shop-in-shop centres will be restricted to the nine cities where i next's printing centres are located. These are: Lucknow, Kanpur, Meerut, Agra, Varanasi, Allahabad, Dehradun, Patna and Ranchi.

For shop-in-shop distribution centres, the division will tie up with large retail chains. Sanwal stated that i next has already tied up with "two large suppliers of stationery" for the merchandising division, but he declined to disclose their names.

i next was started as an experiment in December 2006. It uses English words in the Devnagari script freely. Initially, for a couple of months, it used both the Roman and the Devnagari script in its body copy. However, following feedback from the readers, the Roman script for English words was restricted to the headlines.

According to Sanwal, the compact, which was primarily targeted at the youth, in the age group of 18-25 years, has been received well by 25+ women, too. "Surprisingly, for us, men in the age group of 25-40 years, too, have taken up i next as an alternative reading opportunity," he adds.

Amongst the men for whom i next is an alternative read, 80 per cent are Hindi daily readers and 20 per cent read both English and Hindi newspapers.

All editions of i next are priced at Re 1.