Devesh Gupta
Interviews

"Our Competitors Took us Lightly": Arvind Kalia, Rajasthan Patrika

It is never easy to beat a brand on its home turf. Madhya Pradesh has been the stronghold of Dainik Bhaskar Group ever since 1958. But things have changed. According to IRS 2013, Rajasthan Patrika, which entered the state with a Bhopal edition in 2008, has raced ahead of Dainik Bhaskar Corp in the MPCG area (Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh).

According to IRS 2013, Rajasthan Patrika has 43,26,000 AIR (average issue readership) in Madhya Pradesh, while Dainik Bhaskar has 39,94,000 AIR in the same region. Now that IRS 2013 is no longer in abeyance, we asked Arvind Kalia, national head, marketing, Rajasthan Patrika, about the achievements. Edited Excerpts:

Edited Excerpts

What is your take on IRS?

We believe that IRS has done many filtration and validation exercises, which made it more relevant and accurate in reflecting ground realities. It has become more relevant for marketers.

According to the IRS 2013 figures, Rajasthan Patrika has gone ahead of Dainik Bhaskar for the first time. How did you manage it? And what was your strategy in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh?

The most prominent factor for our success is that we are covering the media dark areas. Our Bastar edition is an apt example. The region is bigger than Kerala but, surprisingly, since India's independence, no newspaper has ever had a full-fledged edition from there. Patrika was the first newspaper to publish copies from this region.

Apart from Bastar, the MPCG region is full of tribal areas where no major newspaper has gone in. Patrika not only opened its exclusive newspaper agencies, but also conducted several reader-friendly activation programmes to attract first-time readers. Our initiatives have been well appreciated by people across the MPCG region, giving a further boost to readership.

As we have said earlier, there was an imposed monopoly of a dominant media house in the MPCG area before the grand entry of Patrika. Our strategy was just to stick to hardcore journalism, which was hugely missing in MPCG.

Where do you plan to launch next?

For the time being, we are concentrating on consolidating our No.1 position in the MPCG region. Much needs to be done, especially in the rural heartland of Madhya Pradesh. Patrika has done a lot of activation programmes in remote rural areas, which makes it the No.1 newspaper in Madhya Pradesh's rural regions by huge margin. That needs to be fortified.

Why did Dainik Bhaskar fall behind in Madhya Pradesh?

They took us lightly and underestimated the strength of Patrika.