One aspect that took up a lot of time and thought and resulted in healthy debate and discussion was the cover price. Opinions differed on whether it should be Rs. 50, Rs. 100 or a magic number in between.
Consensus, that party-pooper, decided on an in-between – Rs. 50, with a rider – that it would be an introductory price.
A few months later, the performance of the product on the newsstands has given the Forbes management the confidence to end the introductory offer and the cover price is now Rs. 100.
And that is fabulous news.
No one will be more relieved at the decision than the ad sales team at Forbes India.
Quick back of the envelope calculations suggest that the change in cover price will result in an increase in revenues of anything between Rs. 2 crore and Rs. 4 crore, depending on the number of copies being sold on the newsstand (which I am not privy to).
That’s a considerable sum, reducing the pressure on the ad sales team considerably. This additional revenue gives them a lot more negotiating power, allowing them to hold on to rates that deliver healthy yield. The numbers will not be in as yet, but if the newsstand sales are not affected significantly by the increase in cover price, Forbes India will breathe easy – getting the confidence to speed up plans to launch more Forbes offerings.
I have, for long, been a supporter of high cover prices, calling for an end to the dependence on advertisers as a means to keep newspapers and magazines afloat. A high cover price immediately suggests confidence in the editorial proposition; if the product is weak editorially, the high price would never be accepted.
Good newsstand sales numbers for high priced publications also send positive signals to advertisers. It would suggest that the publication is being read by consumers who see value, by consumers with high purchasing power, by consumers who are likely to buy a defined basket of products and services. This, too, is a relief for ad sales teams trying to define their readers.
When The Times of India launched the Crest edition, I was disappointed with the low Rs. 6 cover price. The opportunity existed for a Rs. 10 newspaper, I felt, especially if it was only a weekend newspaper. Hopefully, the Forbes India example will give The Times of India some food for thought.
So it should for all others in the publishing business. The opportunity exists to explore higher cover prices. Autocar India, a sister title to Campaign India, has profited greatly from their last increase to Rs. 100, as has their competitor, Overdrive.
As pressure from advertisers and from media buying agencies increases, one way of dealing with this is for publishers to up the ante as far as editorial quality is concerned – and subsequently up the cover price.
Like I said, keep track of Forbes India’s progress. It might help you chart your own course as well.