HT sharpens youth appeal with Hindustan Times NEXT

By , agencyfaqs! | In | May 01, 2004
The Hindustan Times group has rolled out a new paper - Hindustan Times NEXT - targeted purely at readers in the mid-teens and early twenties

The pattern emerges, strong and sharp. Hindustan Times is vigourously appealing to the youth. And to that end, starting today, the Delhi-based publishing group has rolled out a new newspaper - Hindustan Times NEXT - targeted purely at readers in the mid-teens and early twenties (essentially, late schoolers, college students and non-working adults). "Hindustan Times NEXT would be radically different from any other newspaper, including Hindustan Times," says Anand Bhardwaj, vice-president, marketing, Hindustan Times, giving the raison d'tre for launching a youth-oriented daily. "In India, the tyranny is that a single newspaper tries to reach a diversified audience, and as a result, lately, there has been a decline in the newspaper-reading habit among the youth, especially after the satellite and Web revolutions."

Unlike a typical newspaper, Hindustan Times NEXT would not feature hardcore political issues, nor would it have serious business or finance-based news. The focus, instead, would be on content that interests the youth. "An extensive research done three months ago has helped us decide on the product, and the research indicates that young readers in Delhi are saying no to politics and hardcore business news," Bhardwaj explains. The paper, which would start with 14 to 16 pages (as there would be fewer advertisements in the initial issues), would be divided under three broad subjects. The first section would include current affairs, national and international news, city news and sports. The second would feature the kind of information young, urban readers find interesting - news and articles on technology, gadgets, nature and wildlife, academics and careers. The third section would be fun and entertainment-oriented, with news from the world of fashion, movies, television and music.

Bhardwaj adds that the look and content of the front page will be kept flexible. "The headlines would include any topic be it from lifestyle, politics, international news provided the headlines are hot enough," he says. Put differently, it means the declaration of the Assembly election results would find space on the front page; news of a politician joining a party or forming a new one won't. The editorial style that the new paper will follow would also be different, as research suggests that the younger generation is interested in shorter articles and news capsules. Hindustan Times NEXT would, in fact, have a separate editorial team, headed by old HT hand Vipul Mudgal. In his previous assignment, Mudgal was the resident editor of Jaipur, and his last assignment also involved editing the Hindustan Times School Edition.

Priced on par with the Hindustan Times (at Rs 1.50), NEXT is being aggressively promoted on all forms of media. In fact, over the last week, the publication has been running an outdoor teaser campaign featuring young girls and boys holding up a banner that reads 'What Next?'. For the record, Hindustan Times' empanelled agency O&M India has done the creative for the new edition.

Bearing the masthead Hindustan Times Next, the new daily is a brand extension of the existing Hindustan Times brand, Bhardwaj points out, adding, "We want to leverage the brand value of Hindustan Times and not create a separate brand." Considering the new edition will be a standalone paper - and not one that is bundled in with the main paper, which ensures visibility and some amount of 'sampling' readership - the fate of Hindustan Times NEXT remains to be seen. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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