In a span of a few days, Pali, a small district in south Rajasthan, saw the launch of two independent newspaper editions - one from Rajasthan Patrika on April 28, the other from Dainik Bhaskar on May 2. For Patrika, the Pali edition was its fifteenth, while Bhaskar rolled out its ninth edition from the state.
The agenda behind launching the new editions is clear - to capitalize on the three-lakh-plus population inhabiting the area, whose demands were hitherto being met by the Jodhpur editions of the two papers. Transportation time from Jodhpur to Pali is roughly two hours, which meant that the morning papers would reach the reader at Pali not at the conventional time of 6.00 or 7.00 am, but a good while later. "It is to cut this transportation time that we decided to launch an independent edition from Pali," admits Girish Agarwal, director, marketing, Dainik Bhaskar. "What counts in the business today is not only how accurate you are with your news reports, but also how fast you can reach the reader."
Which is why both publication groups have reworked their distribution strategies, set up independent printing units at Pali, and also put their respective editorial teams in place to ensure readers gets their copies - comprising all the latest news and developments in the region - on time. The Pali edition of Dainik Bhaskar consists of 16-20 pages to Patrika's 24 pages, circulates at 36,000 copies to Patrika's 49,000 copies, has four supplements to Patrika's five, and is priced at Rs 2.50, which is on par with the cover price of rival Patrika.
Apart from addressing the time factor, Agarwal points out that the idea of launching the Pali edition is also to increase penetration in the region. "After a certain point in time, the big centres in a state or region cease to grow," he explains. "You then have the task of looking at the smaller centres for growth." Indeed, the philosophy of focusing on smaller centres has virtually been a guiding principle for Bhaskar, with the group launching a couple of independent editions from small areas over the last year or so.
For instance, Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, which is a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Indore, saw the launch of an independent edition last year. Till the launch of the Ujjain edition, it was the Indore edition that was feeding Ujjain. So was Mehsana in Gujarat, which was being fed by the Ahmedabad edition, till the group set up a separate printing unit at Mehsana last year to cater to the needs of readers in north Gujarat. Similarly, Bhaskar is toying with the idea of launching an independent edition from Sagar in Madhya Pradesh, while it intends clubbing Bharuch and Narmada in Gujarat with the forthcoming Baroda edition, rather than distribute copies of the Surat edition in those areas. "Bharuch and Narmada are closer to Baroda, so it makes sense to club those areas with the Baroda edition rather than insist on a presence with the existing Surat edition," Agarwal reasons.
Patrika, meanwhile, has set its sights on tapping Hindi-speaking markets across the country, apart from consolidating its position in Rajasthan, informs Amitabh Sharma, senior marketing manager, Rajasthan Patrika. "We launched an edition in Chennai on the first of February this year, and Pali followed next," he says. "In all, we have 11 editions in Rajasthan, and four out of the state. So, as far as we are concerned, the potential to tap the market further does exist." © 2004 agencyfaqs!