An IIPM Initiative
Monday, March 27, 2023

The leader in the pack


MW | New Delhi, February 17, 2012 16:57
Tags : The Times of India (ToI) | ToI has 15 editions | ToI is a leader |


It’s not for nothing that The Times of India (ToI) is called an institution. It’s something you wake up to; something you think of when you say “newspaper”. Adjudged the world’s largest selling English language daily by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (India), this Old Lady of Bori Bunder today has 15 editions, starting with Mumbai, way back in 1838. All agree it‘s the only newspaper in the country today that has a national presence. Many believe it’s a marketing marvel too.
Over the years, ToI has slowly made its position stronger in regions that swore by a different brand loyalty. Whether it be in West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, or now, in Chennai.
When The Telegraph was launched in 1982, no one dreamt The Statesman’s circulation (then the highest in West Bengal) would lose a few percentages. The story seems to be repeating itself again, ever since the ToI was launched in Kolkata in 1998. As of now, ToI has thrown a challenge to The Telegraph, and according to sources in the paper, its circulation has been steadily increasing. Editorial departments of both papers are pulling out all stops to carry news and features that appeal to a larger cross-section of readers. ToI, for instance, has revamped its second page, which now carries features and issues that concern local interest on a daily basis. “Though I prefer T2 (a daily supplement of The Telegraph), I am also a regular reader of The Calcutta Times. I get a lot of Bollywood and Tollywood from them,” says Alotriya Mukherjee, a student of law. 
The general consensus among readers is that the coverage of political issues is far better in ToI. “I like the ‘Nation’ and ‘Trend’ pages of ToI. From the ‘Trend’ page I get a lot of information about the recent research on various illnesses,’ says Biplab Kumar Ghosh Mondal, a physician. 
A space marketing executive of The Telegraph, who spoke off the record, admitted they are facing tough times because of ToI. “Yes, ToI is doing really well, buttheABP Group stands on its aggressive marketing and circulation network. Since we have two major publications – Ananda Bazar Patrika and The Telegraph – it helps us offer a combined advertising rate. By leveraging this, we are increasing our advertisement revenue,” he says.
Both The Telegraph and ToI have adopted strategies to highlight their growth rate on a regular basis through hoardings at various sites across Kolkata, as well as in the districts. Apart from hoardings, both the papers are trying to grab attention by sponsoring cultural programmes and events, especially in educational institutions, to attract young readers.
It’s interesting to note that there are other English dailies that are also published from Kolkata – like Hindustan Times, The Asian Age, The Hindu, and The Indian Express – which are getting into the heat of competition.
Moving down south, ToI launched its edition in Hyderabad in 2000, with an initial print run of about 40,000 copies. At that time, Deccan Chronicle, thelocal leader, had a circulation of nearly 6 lakh. To take on Deccan Chronicle, ToI waged its usual price war. It started selling for Re 1, calling it an ‘invitation price’.In response, local player The New Indian Express (TNIE)brought down its own price to Rs 1.50. The Hindu, which had a nominal presence in Hyderabad then, also reduced its price. 
The brand leader in Hyderabad, Deccan Chronicle (DC), initially did not decrease its price. But its sister publication, The Asian Age, began selling at Re 1 in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.Later on, Deccan Chronicle too reduced its price. Apart from its trademark price-cutting strategy, ToI also provoked the English dailies in Hyderabad with advertisements that mentioned that it was the only ‘paper in a paperless city’. DC in return advertised that there was a difference between ‘a paper and a newspaper’.
Analysing the readership trend in Andhra Pradesh, Srinivas Godavari, a market analyst on media affairs, says: “ToI has captured a major market share in advertisements and gives robust competition to DC.” DC does have a good “emphasis on crime and entertainment news an d also gives substantial space for classified columns,” says senior journalist and media analyst, Krishna S Ram. 
In 1984, yet another state where this 174-year-old paper rolled into was Karnataka. To start with, The Times Group first purchased the leading Kannada newspapers Vijaya Karnataka and Usha Kirana. Perhaps the aim then was to get a grip on the market through these publications. Today, in terms of circulation, Vijaya Karnataka is the leading Kannada paper. And Prajavani, (run by the Deccan Herald Group) which was initially shaky, has consolidated its position to earn the No 2 slot. It’s interesting to note that all the language newspapers, which floundered when The Times Group entered their market, have today created a niche for themselves. 
As part of its marketing strategy, ToI, even today, gives incentives and gifts to those who can sell its brand in place of other papers.
Some readers in Bangalore also told us that they read the ToI because their hawkers insist that they should! Here’s what B K Narayan, a bank employee in Bangalore has to say: “I read The Hindu regularly and have told my hawker several times to deliver it. But every time he finds an excuse not to. Instead, he leavesToI at my door step.”
Whatever may be the reason, the fact is that while once, regional newspaper readership was considered unchangeable (aka, once a Hindu reader, always a Hindu reader), The Times of India is perhaps the most notable and leading reason why such a preassumed state can no longer be considered stable. Be it any region, any state, any demographic profile, ToI has proved beyond doubt that when there’s a will, there’s market share, and of course, the way.
Rate this article:
Bad Good    
Current Rating 4.2
Post CommentsPost Comments

Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017