The Maharashtra-based Lokmat Group of Newspapers has not only banked on an aggressive strategy of launching editions, especially,
in the case of flagship brand Lokmat, it has also attempted to improve the distribution of its publications.
One reason for this is the sheer pressure of competition not only from players within the print medium, but also from allied media such as television.
The group has 11 printing units in the state and is set to launch its twelfth unit in the Nanded district of Maharashtra.
"The reason for this," says Rishi Darda, executive director, Lokmat Group of Newspapers, "is due to the increase in the print order in the region. Marathwada (where Nanded is located) is huge and currently, we have two printing units at Aurangabad and Latur. Nanded will take care of the additional demand emanating from the region, which is why the launch."
Alongside, the group has also been focusing hard on upgrading technology, installing better equipment and machinery and is presently working on improving its printing facilities at Aurangabad, Pune, Kolhapur and Nagpur.
Circulation of Lokmat according to the July-December 2003 period of ABC is 9.08-lakh copies, while the Hindi paper Lokmat Samachar stands at 1.75-lakh copies and Lokmat Times, the English paper, circulates at 27,102 copies respectively.
The group, says Darda, has no immediate plans to increase the number of editions of Lokmat, which are 13 in all at this point. However, Lokmat Samachar and Lokmat Times will see a gradual increase in editions from the present figure of three editions and two editions, respectively.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the group has relaunched the Kolhapur edition of Lokmat on August 20. Due for some time now, the relaunch was preceded by a market survey to understand the needs of readers, says Darda.
The initial print run of the paper was 59,000 copies, which should pick up over time, Darda says. The group has adopted a variable pricing model in Kolhapur, with the paper available at an invitation price of Re 1 on weekdays and Rs 2.50 on weekends.
An average issue comprises 20 pages on weekdays, with the tally going up to 24 pages on Sundays.
What is worth noting about the Kolhapur relaunch is that it is tied in to the group's strategy of focusing on its weak areas, which include Mumbai and Pune as well.
Lokmat trails behind leaders Loksatta in Mumbai, Sakal in Pune and Pudhari in Kolhapur, and the gameplan, Darda explains, is to try and become number one in these areas. "That is our main priority at this point - to look at those centres where we are not the leaders."
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