Sangeeta Tanwar

India Today, Outlook discontinue supplements

Rising newsprint costs and the global economic slowdown have rendered the supplements non-profitable

It appears that the steep rise in newsprint costs and the global economic slowdown are acting as dampeners for the Indian print industry. Both India Today and Outlook have discontinued some of the supplements that they were distributing free with their mother magazines, India Today and Outlook.

The India Today Group has done away with two supplements, Auto (a special feature on the automobile industry) and Pink (a health supplement). The group has also moved its standalone magazine, Spice Solo, to its earlier status as a free lifestyle supplement by the name of Spice. Spice was launched in 2005 as a supplement with India Today, and hived off as a separate magazine in mid-2008 under the name, Spice Solo.

Senior executives at Outllook were either unvailable or declined to comment on this. The officials at India Today were more forthcoming.

Though Outlook admits that the two titles have been scrapped, the executives refused to divulge any further information about the move. The officials at India Today were more forthcoming.

India Today, Outlook discontinue supplements
Speaking to afaqs! Malcolm Dhunjishaw Mistry, publishing director, India Today, says, “By and large, all the publishers are facing difficulties on account of the bleak economic scenario and the rise in newsprint costs. We have decided to temporarily discontinue two of our supplements, Pink and Auto. The lifestyle magazine, Spice Solo, which was available for sale on newsstands, too, has been withdrawn. All these titles were meant only as value adds for our readers. The important thing is that whenever the market situation improves, we will bring these titles back.”

Mistry points out that every publication has an incubation period and takes four-five years to break even. Considering that it's a bad phase for publishers across the industry, it is but rational to take some strategic business decisions. The important thing is that the publishing house will reconsider its decision when the market scenario improves.

For the record, India Today is published in six languages, including English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Bengali. The Bengali edition carries two free supplements, Manashi (for women) and Uttoron (education and careers), both of which have been done away with.

Mistry explains, “It would be unfair to compare the two markets, but while we have definite plans to bring back our English supplements at the earliest, no decision has been taken yet on the Bengali supplements.”

Magazine supplements are targeted at a niche audience in the hope of bringing a diverse and larger number of advertisers into the magazine's fold. What happens now to the brands that were attached to the discontinued supplements?

Mistry explains, “Advertisers and brands are more concerned about hitting upon their desired target audience, rather than the medium of choice. In our case, brands do not have much to worry about because the brands associated with Pink or Spice Solo can very well reach out to the same audience through our other publications, such as India Today Woman and India Today Spice as both titles are as upmarket as the ones that have been withdrawn.”

Mistry stresses that one should also look at the larger picture and not lose sight of the fact that the group’s other publications – Simplies (city supplements), Home, Aspire, Woman, Gadgets and Gizmos – are still very much in circulation.

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