Tinkle, the comic from the house of ACK Media, and the universe of characters like Suppandi and Shikari Shambu, now has them helping the likes of HUL (Lifebuoy) reach out to its TG. While that’s perhaps the most visible manifestation of change, it isn’t the only one. From zero, the ad revenue now accounts for several lakh rupees a month for the brand that is in ‘reinvention’ mode, informs Manas Mohan, COO, ACK Media.
Tinkle magazine counts those in the age group of 10 to 11 years as its core readers, with the bigger ‘Tinkle Digest’ also enjoying readership of ‘young adults’. While the South and the East of the country account for 60 to 65 per cent of the 4.5 lakh copies of the comic sold (on average, per month), metros account for 45 to 50 per cent. It is the smaller towns that are growing faster, explained Mohan.
He said, “We have been trying to reinvent the company for the last two to three years. We took the lead with Amar Chitra Katha and the feedback has been fantastic. For Tinkle, we will be making a huge brand push into tier 2 and 3 markets. We have lined up distribution in markets we haven’t reached yet.”
In addition, the ‘Future Group Venture’ has invested in retail branding and visibility at points of sale over the last year and a half. Time, effort and money have been invested in pushing the subscriber base over 1,00,000, he added.
The brand claims to be adding 8,000 subscribers a month, and the total at last count during this conversation was 42,000. And about 40 per cent of these subscribers are coming aboard through the brand’s online channel.
The brand claims to have 3.5 lakh registered users on tinkleonline.com. The intent is to multiply the community ‘several times over in the foreseeable future’. Roughly 10 per cent of revenue is coming from online readership, but Mohan added, “I see it growing massively.”
Tinkle saw Rs 3.5 lakh of revenue from online store Magzter, revealed the COO, a number that is steadily rising. “It’s currently largely a sampling medium that leads to subscription and sale of the print issues,” he explained.
Advertising and merchandise growth
There is a conscious push to boost subscription, but as Mohan put it, “Advertising is a big reality.” The COO claimed that the publication would claim the highest per page yield in its category.
Across ACK Media, a lot of time and effort has gone into getting the merchandise right, and it is being backed by monetary investments now, he explained. From T-shirts (at Rs 399 onwards) to mugs and a back-to-school collection, the collection is growing. e-games and online content are also being developed, increasing stickiness of the website and the brand.
Asked about the impact of English comics, cartoons and the like on reading habits of children, Mohan said, “Given our interaction with kids, we understand the process of ‘glocalisation’. There is a certain amount of global content being consumed.”
On the segment of readers who might be dropping off the radar, he said, “The overall base is growing, as more readers are coming on board. We are not so strong, for instance, in the SEC A1 segment as we are in others, and we are aware of it. But even there we see renewed interest with the online channel.”
Part of the effort has also been to expand through Indian languages. Tinkle Digest has been made available in Hindi for the last six to seven months, and has been received well, he said.
There are some things that won’t change, though. The marketing will focus on kids. Mohan surmised, “Parents are just the buyers, not the persuaders. The pull still comes from the child.”