Suddenly the regional press has woken up to the virtues of tying up.
Recently Chennai-based The Hindu extended its alliance with Andhra Pradesh-based Eenadu to offer advertisers greater reach and entered another pact with the Kannada daily Udayavani in Karnataka. The all-India circulation of The Hindu is 8.69 lakh, of which AP constitutes 2.13 lakh. According to the ABC figures for January-June 2001, Eenadu (the Telugu daily in AP) is the No. 1 regional daily with a circulation of 7.68 lakh.
Everybody is getting what he or she wants. For media buyers, such a tie-up mean column space at a lower cost. The Hindu strikes a presence in those areas where it is not as strong as in Chennai. And the regional paper can shed its perceived downmarket image.
The strategy, say analysts, is to offer greater reach at lower prices in a time of recession when advertising budgets are taking a hit. In times of recession, one of the first to lose out is the print medium, which feels the pressure as media planners opt for the more 'visible' medium - television. Says Atul Phadnis, media director, Starcom India, "In these times, only those who innovate can charm the media buyer."
Offering a package makes sense. While some criticism has been raised that only The Hindu will benefit, the reality is likely to be the other way round. The potential for growth, propelled by greater literacy, is the largest in the regional market. For example, Hindi newspapers such as Dainik Jagran and Dainik Bhaskar have launched several editions in the last three years.
What the regional language papers lack is the elite image that the English press has. The extent to which they are seen as downmarket varies from state to state. Thus, in a state like Uttar Pradesh, the line between readers of the vernacular- and the English-speaking elite is fairly sharp, while it blurs in states like Punjab and in the south. Yet it exists. This is where tie-ups with English papers, aimed at SEC A, and SEC B, help, aver analysts. Marketing heads concur.
After the tie-up, the Andhra-based Eenadu has seen advertisements of products, which are perceived as 'upper class', pouring in. Says I Venkat, director, Eenadu, "Language publications in general do not get the so-called English-only advertisers like lifestyle products, office automation etc. With this tie-up Eenadu has got some such advertisers. The flow can only be better in the coming weeks and months." Eenadu has sought to stress the point through a series of advertisements, across national magazines, which sell the theme that the buyer of Mercedes Benz cars or Swiss watches need not be English speaking.
For regional papers, the leap from being a "regional" to a "national" brand becomes easier through such tie-ups. It is a goal that regional publications have been assiduously pursuing for some time now. Papers like the Dainik Jagran in Hindi, Chitralekha in Gujarati, and Eenadu in Telugu have poured money in building national brands. The tactics to boost circulation have been similar to that of the English papers in the eighties - cutting down on the costs, effectively tying up with other players so as to boost circulation, and wooing more and more advertisers.
For all practical purposes, the real gainers from such alignments could be the regional press. At first glance, in a country where an English speaking elite of less than 5 per cent of the total population dominates the rest, it would seem that the English press is dominant. Influence wise it could be, but in the numbers game, the regional papers beat the English press hands down.
Nothing proves the power of the regional press more than the reach of Malayala Manorama, the second-most widely circulated paper in the country, after the English language Times of India, according to the Registrar of Newspaper of India (RNI) report 2001. The ToI has seven editions and a combined circulation of 16,87,099 copies (1.69 million copies). Malayala Manorama has eight editions and a combined circulation of 12,08,001 copies (1.21 million).
Juxtapose this against the size of the market and the paradox will be clear. Kerala has 1 per cent of the total area of India, and 4 per cent of Indians know Malayalam.
© 2001 agencyfaqs!First Published : November 23, 2001