The Hindustan Times Group is getting bullish about its Hindi daily, Hindustan. Plans are afoot to roll out the Varanasi edition around July 20, 2001. This will be followed up with the launch of the Bhagalpur edition in August and the Kanpur edition by the year-end. The newspaper has five editions currently - Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi and Muzaffarpur.
The objective of this launch spree is two-fold, says, Rajiv Singh, general manager, media marketing, Hindustan. "This will help advertisers realise that Hindustan is a serious paper. The bigger idea is to break the stranglehold of Dainik Jagran in UP and thus capture the UP-Delhi-Bihar belt for Hindustan."
"Hindustan will take another five years or more than that to even come close to what it is claiming," scoffs Alok Sanwal, brand manager, Dainik Jagran Group of Publications. "There are four very well established publications in UP. Right at the top is Dainik Jagran with a readership base of 85 lakh; then there is Amar Ujala, which has 64 lakh readers, followed by Aaj and Rashtriya Sahara at the third and fourth positions respectively. So, in my view, Hindustan is actually competing with Rashtriya Sahara, and if they do really well, then maybe with Aaj."
However, Singh believes that capturing the market is not going to be a very difficult task because Hindustan has a captive base already. "As per the latest NRS report, Hindustan is among the top 10 dailies as well as among the top five Hindi dailies today. This is indicative of the daily's growing popularity," reiterates Singh.
"Readers' demand for Hindustan is a consequence of the relaunch that happened last September (September 15, 2000)," explains Varun Kohli, joint manager, media marketing, Hindustan. While the Delhi and Lucknow editions were relaunched, the Patna edition was repackaged. "And the results have been very encouraging. The sales figure for Delhi city alone, which was 46,000 copies before the relaunch, have gone up to 1,16,000 thereafter. Similarly, the overall sales of the Delhi edition has increased from 1,00,000 to 1,75,000 in the same period."
A corresponding increase has been recorded in the Lucknow edition as well. While the city sales have jumped from 18,000 to 34,000 copies, the edition sales have gone up from 86,246 to 1,10,000. As far as Patna is concerned, according to the IRS 2001, Hindustan commands a 90.6 per cent market share of the total market of 3,42,000 readers, adds Singh. In the whole of Bihar, it has a 77 per cent share.
The changes brought about in the paper were a result of a research conducted by IMRB to find out the lacunae in Hindi dailies. "There were a couple of things that were brought to our notice," remarks Singh. "We found that generally all Hindi dailies lack depth in content. To an extent, these dailies were cut off from the local issues and, most importantly, the youth were not able to relate to these dailies." He adds that most of the issues plaguing Hindi dailies were born out of the misconception among these newspapers that the mindset of a Hindi reader is different form that of a metro or an English reader. "Which is not the case. His need for information is as legitimate as his counterparts - be it a metro reader or an English reader," points out Singh.
Keeping these factors in mind, Hindustan made some changes to plug the holes and introduce some value-added services. "Apart from reengineering the content, we introduced a section on fun, entertainment and sports," points out Singh. "In fact, Hindustan was the first Hindi daily to launch two sports and two business pages. Moreover, the last page of the paper is in full colour. However, these pages are present only in the Delhi and the Lucknow editions. To get the youth involved, a four-page section to provide vocational guidance called 'Nai Dishayen' was introduced and it comes every Tuesday with the Delhi and the Lucknow editions. Again in May 2001, we introduced a matrimonial pullout called 'Jeevan Sathi'."
But aren't all these changes modelled on the current look and style of Hindustan Times, the English daily? "Yes, they are, but you will be surprised to know that most of the big Hindi dailies have started aping us. I need to point out here that our fun and entertainment section is not frivolous. Frivolity is an attribute associated with some of the other publications in the region. For example, one of them carries glamorous pictures on the first page itself. Whereas Hindustan is beyond glamour, it is a better enabler of knowledge in a holistic way." The publication has also spun off Hindustan City on the lines of the HT City.
With all this in place the marketing team of Hindustan is gunning for a 35 per cent share of the Rs 300-crore advertising pie in the combined markets of UP, Delhi and Bihar. "We have successfully drawn the attention of advertisers. For the first time in the history of Hindi dailies, a full issue of the Lucknow edition was branded by Four Square to create some noise around the launch of Four Square in Lucknow. If a big company like Godfrey Phillips India considers Hindustan to be the right launch pad, and seems vindicated by the decision, we can rightfully claim that we are a newspaper that is being seriously considered by advertisers," states Singh.
© 2001 agencyfaqs!